We know our readers enjoy our occasional articles on the people and places of the neighborhood’s past. You can also take a deeper dive into the history of Forest Hills by picking up a book on the subject. Forest Hills, like Forest Hills Connection, was a neighborhood project. Its publication in 2006 is now part of the neighborhood’s history, too. Here’s more on that effort from one of the co-editors.
Nearly 20 years ago, a group of Forest Hills residents got together and decided to celebrate our neighborhood by organizing a “History Day” event. We were a mixed group of people who shared a love of history, and we wanted to know more about where we lived.
It was an entirely volunteer project with someone (my husband) learning about the earliest days when an American Indian tribe quarried soapstone from Soapstone Creek.
Others dug into old newspaper clippings and photographs. Remember, this effort started years before many local history materials were archived online. It wasn’t easy.
When the day arrived in October 2004, we had a wealth of material on everything from schools to homes, to resident artists and writers, to churches and embassies. We had the cooperation of the Seventh Day Adventist Church for our displays, which covered the church auditorium. We had a special section where children could keep busy while their parents read the dozens of posters on view. Best of all, we had made friends of neighbors we had not known before.
Not long after the displays were dismantled, several of us had the idea that the material should be preserved in book form. With the help of an author who had published previous books on neighborhoods, we obtained a contract with Arcadia Press, and we were off.
Once more a call for volunteers went out. We were gratified to find that many of the people who worked on History Day also offered to help with the book. We did some fundraising to meet major expenses, but the photographers, writers and editors were all volunteers.
As the editor of the Forest Hills history book, I had the pleasure of working with many talented people, many of whom had careers in vintage photography and design, in reporting and architecture, and in historical research.
The neighborhood – like all neighborhoods – has changed and we are fortunate to have an influx of younger people as well as a large number of international residents. When I walked my dog through the neighborhood in the past few years, I frequently met many new dog walkers. I was pleased to get to know them and to answer their questions about homes, particularly the Owl’s Nest, our historic house, and other interesting architecture.
Today’s young homeowners and apartment dwellers in this time of pandemic are spending more time in the neighborhood and they are eager to learn more about where they live and who lived here before. I am very encouraged.
Though the book was published in 2006, history doesn’t grow old! You can buy the book, part of the series “Images of America” titled Forest Hills, at our neighborhood, nationally recognized bookstore, Politics and Prose. You can also order the book online for in-store pickup, or have it shipped to you.
You’ll discover the origins of Forest Hills. You’ll read about some famous residents and the scientists working at National Bureau of Standards where UDC now resides. You’ll enjoy vintage photos and recognize familiar homes. And you’ll find out about the streetcar and businesses that made Connecticut Avenue a hopping place. It’s a fun introduction to a beautiful neighborhood that has gone through many changes.