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The Story behind the “Florida Avenue Folly”

by Prince Of Petworth February 11, 2016 at 2:25 pm 6 Comments

FAF 2

“Dear PoPville,

I’ve been wondering for quite a while what the story is behind what I’ve dubbed the “Florida Avenue Folly” attached to the side of a house on Florida Ave. just before 16th St. It’s hard to get a shot of it due to the location and fence, but I was passing when the light was right for it today. Any thoughts?”

This peculiarity used to come up every year but it’s been a minute since someone asked. They are the remaining columns from the Henderson Manor Garden at 16th and Florida Ave, NW. In 2009 The Post’s Answerman dug up the full story. In part:

“Burnap’s 16th Street garden featured an open lawn bordered with shrubbery. A high wall faced Florida Avenue and turned the corner at 16th before stepping down to a low wall and ornamental iron fence. At the rear of the property, four Doric columns held up a hanging garden. Most striking was the intricate latticework that covered most of the interior walls.”

The garden eventually came to be called the Henderson Manor Garden, named after the castlelike mansion on the other side of Florida Avenue. By 1938, 2108 16th St. NW had been closed for a few seasons, although fetes were still held in its garden.

All that remains of his garden are four crumbling columns. Why were they left untouched? That wall might be attached to the rowhouse at 1618 Florida Ave., making it more trouble than it’s worth to remove.

Read the full story here.

FAF 1

  • AMDCer

    Interesting! Great picture of the original in the Answerman link. Thanks, PoP!

    • yeah I was trying to find a larger version of that photo but failed :(

  • ET

    I found a great article – the image is grainy however – in the Evening Star (17 Jan. 1914) about this very project. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1914-01-17/ed-1/seq-14/

    There is also another story in the Washington Times (17 May 1913) but it has no pictures that show anything useful. http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84026749/1913-05-17/ed-1/seq-8/

    • AMDCer

      Wow! The Evening Star article and photos are great – really explains what it used to look like. Thanks – I have been wondering about this for a long time.

    • Planner

      And note that the Evening Star story was written in the brief period when 16th St was being called “Avenue of the Presidents”. I believe this was one of Mrs. Henderson’s ideas, which did not catch on.

  • wpk_dc

    I really wish Henderson Castle was still there. Directly across the street from Meridian Hill Park, it must’ve been quite an elegant gateway up or down 16th Street.

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