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3 Things You Didn’t Know Happened at Chevy Chase Circle

Take a trip to the far reaches of the District and learn about 3 things you didn't know happened at Chevy Chase Circle: a tragic suicide, a cricket match, and a tornado!
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We haven’t done a “Three Things…” post in a while, so let’s go to the far reaches of the District, up to the Maryland line, and talk about some things you didn’t know happened there long ago.

Chevy Chase Circle (Wikipedia)
Chevy Chase Circle (Wikipedia)

1. The tragic suicide of a local tailor

There’s always a macabre story when doing one of these posts … and this is sad and graphic story published by the Post on August 30th, 1905.

William G. Zimmerman, a tailor, of 912 Eight street southeast, shot himself through the head yesterday morning, near Chevy Chase circle, and died a short time afterward. About 11:45 o’clock Policemen Maher and Sullivan, of the Tennallytown substation, heard the sound of a pistol shot from the direction of the pavilion at the circle, and hastened to the sport. There they found Zimmerman unconscious, and rapidly bleeding to death from a bullet wound above his right temple. They summoned the Emergency Hospital ambulance, but the man was dead before he reached the hospital, of hemorrhage of the brain. The body was viewed by the coroner, who issues a certificate of suicide.

His money is to go to his widow, according to a note which he left behind. The note read:

“In the pocket of my chinchilla coat my wife will find something; I hope that she will forgive me, as I pray God will; I leave all for the benefit of my wife and children, without bond or authority. I am beyond where there is care and reset. It is better that I rest forever.”

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2. Washington Cricket Club takes on the Baltimore club

The Washington Post reported on June 16th, 1907, that a cricket match was to be held within the circle … something you’re not terribly likely to see these days.

The first of a series of eight games between the Washington Cricket Club and the St. George Club of Baltimore will take place at Chevy Chase Circle to-morrow at 1 o’clock. The local club has been practicing hard of late and expects to the the Monumental City team a hard game.

Capt. Bob Barr will use Dick Roberts and Harry Holmes, as bowlers, while William Warren will be wicket keeper.

Bob Barr in 1889 (Wikipedia)
Bob Barr in 1889 (Wikipedia)

You might not know this, by Bob Barr was an excellent Major League pitcher two decades prior to this. Way back in 1885, he single-handedly pitched the Washington Nationals (then affiliated with the Eastern Association) into the league championship. He pitched in 15 of the teams’ final 24 games, winning 14 of them, a remarkable feat. Bob Barr, Walter Johnson, Stephen Strasburg … the line of dominant Washington pitchers lives on.

Also, back then, being a baseball player was a regular job, and when you hung up your spikes, you had to find other employment since you have an Albert Pujols-like contract. After bouncing around to a number of the teams, the native Washingtonian returned to the city and was employed in the Engineering Department of the District government. Bob and his wife Fannie lived at 1816 Kalorama Rd. NW in today’s Adams Morgan.

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Bob & Fannie Bar in the 1900 U.S. Census
Bob & Fannie Bar in the 1900 U.S. Census lived at 907 Q St. NW

3. Tornado hits Chevy Chase

The thunderous sound of an approaching tornado, normally reserved for Kansas or Oklahoma, were heard in the vicinity of Chevy Chase Circle in September 1896. In the blink of an eye, the storm caused tremendous damage, as reported by the Post on September 20th, 1896.

The vicinity of Chevy Chase Circle was visited by a miniature cyclone yesterday afternoon at 5:30 o’clock which did more damage in the five minutes than can be repaired in as many days. The storm was about a quarter of a mile in width and passed between the post office and the Inn. It was heralded by clouds which entirely obscured the su and for some time complete darkness prevailed. Then came a funnel-shaped cloud moving at great speed. Big trees were uprooted and broken off, bushes and hedges were ruined, and a score of poles on the Capital Traction Company’s line between the Chevy Chase Club and Chevy Chase Inn were blown down. The wires were badly tangled, and for four hours traffic was at a standstill. Superintendent Claude had 150 men at work as soon as the rain, which followed the windstorm, had blown over, but little could be done. At 9 o’clock two cars were run as far as the circle, where they were met by horse cars connecting the Inn with the lake. Up to the time of stopping the cars little had been done, but it is announced that the cars will be running on schedule time this morning.

The storm did considerable damage to corn fields over which it passed. Outhouses were torn up and blown away, but no damage was done to the larger buildings. The country outside of the strip where the poles were blown down did not suffer at all. No one was injured.

Given the magnitude of the damage, it’s a miracle nobody was hurt. On a side note … cornfields and outhouses? Different times for sure.

Image of tornado (Wikipedia)
Image of tornado (Wikipedia)
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