Today on Georgetown Time Machine, GM is posting a nice shot of the Montrose estate in a derelict shape.
The photo, from DCPL’s archive, is from 1891, and shows the estate’s front facade from R St. GM wrote about this property last year. This photo was in that post, but the version above is much clearer. Here is what GM wrote about the estate’s later years:
In 1837 [the estate] 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 is boarded up in the photo above and the date of the photo aligns with the period of time when it had been abandoned. (It is, of course, crazy to think that a large estate in Georgetown would be simply abandoned.)
There’s no information who the jaunty fellow is at the center of the photo. It appears he might be holding a rake of some sort. Perhaps he was cleaning up the grounds?
The photo was taken by Willard Ross, a DC resident at the turn of the century who traveled around town taking photos of various “hometown views”. He was probably attracted to the decrepit state of the estate.
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A postscript: appropriately enough, Sarah Louise Rittenhouse, who led the successful effort to establish Montrose Park, is buried in the adjacent Oak Hill Cemetery on a slope overlooking Rock Creek.
Interesting to note that Montrose House was situated close to the property line fronting R Street. The paved area of the rose garden and armillary sphere must be just about the size of building envelope.