LOCAL LORE: Wealth, Scandal, and Tragedy

The story of Metropolis View and Edgewood 

That chunk of land to the west of Colonel Brooks’ estate and south of the Middleton estate (where Catholic University is now) was once a 410-acre tract known as Metropolis View and owned by Washington Berry. 

Approximate location of the Metropolis View tract and Berry mansion.

Berry was the son of Zachariah Berry, a wealthy Maryland planter who is estimated to have owned over 8,000 acres of land in Maryland, the District, and Kentucky. His manor house, named Concord, still stands in District Heights. At his death in 1845 various tracts in and around DC were willed to his sons and grandsons. Washington Berry served in the War of 1812, married Eliza Thomas in 1822, and shortly thereafter moved here and built a grand home he called Metropolis View, which the Evening Star described this way: 

The original house was a large double structure, with wide halls and immense rooms on either side, the ceilings of which were remarkably high. The frescoes running around the upper parts of the walls in these rooms were excellently executed and represented the fruits of agriculture. This house was built of bricks burned on the place in a kiln erected on the plat near present Eckington.

Washington Berry became a gentleman farmer, using primarily slave labor to tend the place. He and his wife appear in the 1840 census with seven children and ten slaves. In addition to the brick mansion, there were stables, a carriage house, a barn and other outbuildings. His sons owned a tract called Bellevue, at the extreme southern tip of the District, and Berry managed their farm as well as his own.

© Robert Malesky 2017