Cherry Hill Lane Revives 1950s’ Tradition

Robert Devaney

This newspaper receives many invitations and requests for coverage from around town, the city and elsewhere. But the folks at Cherry Hill Lane and Cecil Place, close to the Georgetowner’s office, sent us an e-mail that grabbed our attention:

“On April 28, 1955, the Georgetowner ran a story entitled ‘The passing of Georgetown’s Last Slum: Cherry Hill Rises from the Ashes…’ It talks about the Cherry Hill neighborhood’s history and mentions that there is going to be a party on May 14, 1955, to celebrate the repeal of the Alley Dwelling Act and the paving of Cherry Hill Lane. The Cherry Hill neighborhood has recently been going through a similar revival, and neighbors felt it was time for another party. So, on May 12, from 6 to 9, we’re throwing a block party with square dancing like they did back in 1955.”

The people who live around Cherry Hill and Cecil held their May 12 block party and celebrated their history and their latest improvements. Between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, the little streets and homes were saved for today’s owners. “In 1955, they were celebrating the repeal of the alley act and paving Cherry Hill Lane for the first time,” said Michele Jacobson, who led the event planning. “Now, in 2012, 57 years later, we’re celebrating the repeal of the alley act (or the rowhouses on Cecil and Cherry Hill would have been torn down), the regrading of Cecil Place to stop the flooding of houses” and several public transportation and landscaping projects. Jacobson and party-goers were happy to applaud the assistance of Colleen Hawkinson, Olusegun Olaore, Meg Hardon, Rahmat Rasson and Lydia Dickens along with the public library’s Jerry McCoy for providing historical information, Tom Birch from ANC, Ray Kukulski of CAG, Betsy Emes of Trees for Georgetown, some of whom got gifts during the May 12 party. Jacobsen and organizers also thanked Jack Evans Ruth Werner, Bill Starrels, Ron Lewis and others.

The party illustrated the best of classic Georgetown: a sense of history (That old “Cherry Hill gang was tough and so were the prostitutes.”), a sense of community (help from the D.C government and a neighboring condo group and nearby business) and a sense of fun (square-dance calling by Jim Wass) -- all to make living here better.

The Georgetowner also reported about that 1955 event in 1961 and 2002. Of course, we had to be there again. So, let’s add this one to

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May 18, 2012 at 6:31 PM Lou Gatti

I still remember my first summer working for the Georgetown Post Office, back in the 60's. One day I was given the route that included Cherry Hill and Cecil Place. I had to ask directions at the corner deli ( the Rosenbergs, I think). I still remember the old Thunderbird parked at the inside corner of Cherry Hill, ( Les somebody). It was a nifty street. Years later, I parked at the bottom of Cecil Place next to the old floor store, to go to Chadwicks. It was startling at first because they had a fish tank in the window facing Cecil. Went to lock passenger door ( no power locks back then) and was looking eye to eye at a small fish. Took me a sec to figure this out. Well, there are lots of old Georgetown stories, but this is all for now....Lou Gatti

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