Tennis, Anyone? Soon at Montrose Park

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The new tennis courts at Montrose Park. Georgetowner photo.

They’re done! The two brand-new, green-surfaced, hard-court tennis courts at Montrose Park. At least they look done. But they are not open yet. 

“An initial walk-through meeting with the contractor was held last week and a punch list was developed that is now being addressed,” Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Elizabeth Miller told The Georgetowner.    

“Once those items are taken care of — puddles of water on the courts in particular — the courts will be re-inspected with the goal of accepting the work,” stated a memo sent to Miller on Aug. 29 from the National Park Service, which owns and manages the park. The hope is to have the work completed and the courts open to the public by the end of September, depending on the weather.  

Four “Rules of the Court” signs have been fabricated and will be hung outside the court by the Park Service. “I expect/hope they will fix the typo,” Miller commented, after viewing the copy she received. The rules include: 1. First Come, Frist [sic] Served; 2. No holding up use of the courts while waiting for others to arrive; 3. Players have use of the court for 1 hour at a time when others are waiting to play; 4. Rubber soled shoes only on courts; 5. No glass containers; 6. No pets on courts; 7. No alcohol; and 8. No bikes or skateboards on courts.

A prominent private estate from 1804 to 1911, Montrose Park belonged to rope-making magnate Robert Parrott, who allowed Georgetown residents to use some of the land for picnics and meetings. It became known as Parrott’s Woods. But by the early 20th century, it had fallen into disrepair.  

In 1904, the property was offered up for sale and considered for subdivision and development. However, Georgetown resident Sarah Louisa Rittenhouse lobbied Congress to authorize the purchase of the Montrose estate for a public park “for the recreation and pleasure of the people.” Congress finally established Montrose Park on March 2, 1911. 

From 1914 to 1924, the federal Office of Public Buildings and Grounds hired a series of landscape architects to develop plans for a public park that would “keep it in character of a large country estate,” with an entrance ellipse, a system of footpaths, a pergola and a lodge. After Rittenhouse’s death in 1942, the Georgetown Garden Club erected an armillary sphere (a celestial model) in her memory near the reconstructed entrance steps. Rittenhouse is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Several mature canopy trees from the 1800s, as well as the site’s ropewalk, summerhouse and boxwood gardens, have been preserved. Over the years, tennis courts, a children’s playground and other features were added.  

The nonprofit Friends of Montrose Park was founded as a volunteer organization dedicated to helping the Park Service maintain and restore the park. An official Park Service partner, it supports Rock Creek Park through the SOLVE (Sustaining Our Lands with Volunteer Energy) stewardship program. The current president of the Friends of Montrose Park’s board of trustees is Georgina Owen Horsey.

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