by Malachy Nugent
ANC 3F06 commissioner
Some people call it “North Cleveland Park”, others say “Van Ness” or even “Upper Van Ness”, and in a pinch it’s just “that neighborhood right between the Van Ness and Tenleytown Metros”. Most people don’t know what to call it, or even that it has a name.
But it does. It’s Wakefield.
Wakefield is the official name of the neighborhood bounded by Connecticut Avenue, Nebraska Avenue, and Albemarle Street. It was created in the 1930s, as Washington’s growing population started to spread north along Connecticut and east from Tenleytown. It was then that developer R.B. Warren bought two square miles of undeveloped land, built 100 brick homes (a step up from the wooden houses common in the area at the time), and named his new development “Wakefield.” (Source: Judith Beck Helm’s Tenleytown, D.C.: Country Village into City Neighborhood. Tenally Press, Washington, D.C. 2nd ed. (2000), pg 208)
The name stuck, and 85 years later it is still the neighborhood’s official designation, according to the DC Office of Tax and Revenue, which maintains the city’s Real Property Assessment Database.
Wakefield today remains a largely residential area, composed of single-family homes and a number of apartment buildings along Connecticut Avenue. It also encompasses Murch Elementary and DC Fire Engine Company #31, historic Grant Road, and the commercial strip along Connecticut between Fessenden and Nebraska. It is, as others have noted, equidistant from both the Van Ness and Tenleytown Metro stations, which is one of the things that helps make Wakefield “one of D.C.’s most popular neighborhoods,” according to the real-estate listing service MRIS.