Who was Mr. Woodley, you’re probably wondering. Well unlike Mr. Cleveland’s eponymous neighborhood one stop past Woodley on the red line, this neighborhood was not named after some guy. It was named after a house, and one that has an interesting past with some notable people being associated with it.
So, why is it named Woodley Park? Well, a beautiful house overlooking the young federal city was built in 1801 and named Woodley House by a notable former resident of Washington, Philip Barton Key. He was the uncle of Francis Scott Key, yet himself was the anti-patriot, sticking to supporting the British during the Revolution.
He clearly picked the wrong side and after the war headed over to England where he spent some time at Woodley House (or Woodley Lodge) in Berkshire. This Woodley House received its name from a neighboring town and civil parish named Woodley. The elder Key liked the home so much that when we was back in D.C., he built his family a grand home and gave it the same name: Woodley House.
The namesake in England no longer stands as it was torn down in 1962, but the one in Woodley Park is still there. In 1950 it became the property of the Maret School and currently serves as a library and administrative building (the building is on the home page of their website).
To add to the history of this house, it also hosted quite a few notable residents, including Martin Van Buren, Grover Cleveland, General Patton, and its final resident Henry Stimson.
The next time you’re driving down the 3000 block of Cathedral Ave, take a look to your left as you pass Maret and you’ll see the beautiful and imposing old Woodley House. And, now you know why it’s named Woodley Park.