The Grant Road Historic District consists of a two-block remnant of a major east-west connector road that historically led from Tenleytown (formerly Tenallytown), on the important Frederick Road (Wisconsin Avenue), east to the rural Broad Branch Road and to the small farmsteads in the larger Rock Creek area. The two-block historic district includes the road itself—an intact stretch of country lane that preceded and survived the platting of this section of northwest Washington—as well as 13 contributing resources, all dating to between the mid-19th century and 1909.
The Grant Road Historic District is significant as a surviving enclave of modest rural dwellings and the sole cohesive collection of buildings that historically formed an integral part of the larger village of Tenleytown. In 1791, Tenleytown, which began in the late 18th century as a small stagecoach stop along the Frederick/Rockville Road that connected the port at Georgetown to the rural Maryland countryside, was included within the boundaries of the new, Federal District of Columbia. Despite its inclusion in the District, Tenleytown continued to evolve and exist as a small and independent rural village until the second decade of the 20th century.
During the Civil War, Grant Road (so named during the war) gained significance as a road when a section of it became part of the military road built to link the defenses of Washington. Fort Reno, built in 1861 at Tenleytown, was immediately adjacent to this section of Grant Road. However, the growth of Grant Road as part of Tenleytown did not occur until after the Civil War as the former connector road emerged as a tightly-knit residential enclave inhabited by members of the Tenleytown community. During the 1880s and 1890s, Grant Road became one of the most densely developed streets in Tenleytown and an integral part of the village community.
Tenleytown and Grant Road enjoyed this quiet village existence for several decades. However, during the mid-20th century, as Washington expanded its residential neighborhoods to accommodate a tremendous increase in the city's population, the small village of Tenleytown became absorbed into the larger and burgeoning northwest quadrant of Washington. Despite the laying of roads and wholesale elimination of 19th-century buildings in Tenleytown (particularly in the residential "Reno" subdivision) during this period, this segment of Grant Road, though not unscathed, survived. As such, Grant Road, including its narrow and meandering path and the rural vernacular buildings along it, provides a visible reminder of the rural origins of this part of northwest Washington and a clear and palpable expression of a bygone era.
The buildings of the Grant Road Historic District date from 1860 to 1931.
DC Inventory: February 28, 2002 (effective April 21, 2002)
National Register: March 3, 2004