Georgetown Time Machine: Old Dumbarton Club Vista

This week for Georgetown Time Machine, GM explores a snapshot of a lovely pool, now long gone. The photo, above, is taken from the April 17, 1932 issue of the Washington Times. The caption reads:

An unusual view in the rear of the old Dumbarton Club at Wisconsin Avenue and R St. now the residence of Alexander Kirk.

The property was featured because it was on the annual garden tour (which was only on its fourth edition that year). The article elaborates that the Dumbarton Club was “in years gone by the mecca of well known Capital tennis players.” It was open to the public for the first time that year.

(Interestingly, the Decater House on N St. was also open for the first time on this tour, and was just listed for sale.)

GM has written about the Dumbarton Club before. It was a country club that once stood at the southwest corner of Wisconsin and R and occupied the Mount Hope estate. While tennis was its main focus for much of its existence, for a short while it even maintained a 9 hole golf course (the golf course was in what became Burleith). It was founded in 1900 and lasted until 1926, when the land owner died and the heirs sold it.

GM is not sure who bought the property from the heirs, but by 1932, as the article states, it was owned by Alexander Kirk. Kirk was a diplomat who was very active leading up to and during WWII. It’s certainly a credit to him that he was criticized by Joe McCarthy’s witch hunt, which conclude that Kirk “had a very bad reputation of being a homosexual and certainly protected a lot of homosexual people”. Hats off to Kirk.

Kirk sold the estate to Evelyn Walsh McLean in 1942. When she died just five years later, a developer bought the property and broke it into three separate residences. GM is guessing that that is when the pool was removed. You can see from this aerial photo from 1951 that the sweeping vista you see at the top photo was gone:


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One response to “Georgetown Time Machine: Old Dumbarton Club Vista

  1. Thomas Neale

    Very interesting about the Dumbarton Club! Thanks for enlightening your readers. The legendary Evalyn Walsh McLean moved to R Street when she sold “Friendship,” her estate further up the hill, to the Feds, who built war emergency housing, McLean Gardens, on the site. What was obviously the main block of the mansion on R Street still has the name “Friendship” carved above the main door. At least it did last time I looked.

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