One of the loveliest spots in Georgetown is Montrose Park. But few realize it was once a private estate. This week on Lost Georgetown, GM is exploring the Montrose estate.
The area that is now Montrose Park was first developed into something other than a forrest by Richard Parrott. Parrott purchased the property in 1804 and transformed it into a private estate, with a federal style house, an orchard, and a rope factory. The rope-making is commemorated by the Parrott Rope Walk that runs down the center of the park from R St. to the playground. This is meant to reflect the long narrow workshops that once made ropes at that site. (It’s important to mention here that the labor for this rope factory was provided by enslaved workers owned by Parrott).
The rope factory burned down and Parrott abandoned the property. The estate became known as Parrott’s Woods at this point, and was a popular recreation spot for Georgetowners seeking some air. It was purchased by Clement Smith, a man who was the first cashier at the Farmers and Mechanics Bank (the bank which eventually occupied the building which is now the PNC at Wisconsin and M St.) and rose to be its president. He named the property Elderslie. In 1837 it was sold to William Boyce, who renamed it Montrose, in honor of his familial connections to the Scottish Earls of Montrose.
Although his family continued to own the property until 1911, they did not live in it after 1858. It fell into disrepair, although some tenants brought it back into shape shortly in the 1880s. Eventually, however, it became totally abandoned and derelict. Georgetowners, led by Sarah Louise Rittenhouse, successfully petitioned Congress to purchase the land and dedicate it as park in 1911.
The house was too far gone at this point and was demolished the same year.
The photo above shows the house as viewed from R St. Here is a map showing how the house stood just across the street from the Jackson School:
The house was where the Sarah Louise Rittenhouse memorial now stands (well, stood, before someone vandalized it):
Here is another angle of the house from the east side:
Finally, here is a great shot of the backside of the estate, with a Victorian garden party in full swing: