NFCCA

Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ October 2014

History Corner(s)

Military Installation Where Whittington Terrace is Now

By Ken Hawkins

Did you know that there was once a military base in the Northwood Park section of Four Corners?  Not many people do, but, thanks to a memory shared on Facebook and the research of a young blogger, we now know that it’s true.

Cathy Yenzer, whose family owned the Esso Station at Woodmoor Shopping Center in the 1950s, runs a popular Facebook group called “Woodmoor/4 Corners.” The group has about 1,500 members — a combination of people who grew up here and relative newcomers who like to share stories and photos of the area.

One of the members who lived here in the 1950s commented that he remembered a military installation here, and asked if anyone else knew about it.  Only one or two members had dim, nonspecific memories of it.  Several of the historians of the group also had not heard of it, but wanted to know more.

Thanks to Sean Emerson, born here in 1994 and now studying history and science at Washington College, we now have a new documented chapter in our neighborhood’s history.  One of Sean’s interest is the intersection of history and geography, and he often uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and aerial photographs to do research.  He’s collected a series of U.S. government aerials of Four Corners, dating to the early 1950s.  He carefully checked his collection (which he has generously shared online) and, in a 1957 aerial, he noticed what others had missed:  the characteristic shapes and features of a military installation.  Tucked into the space just southeast of the intersection of University Boulevard and Caddington Avenue are clearly visible lines of transport trucks and, more intriguingly, the star-shaped outline of what Sean’s father, a former analyst with the National Geo-Intelligence Agency, said indicated a gun battery.


In this 1957 image found by Emerson, part of Northwood is visible at the top; University Blvd. runs top to bottom.  The single row of houses between the high school and the military installation are on Caddington Avenue.

Sean followed up with additional research about the kinds of post-war defense installations that existed in Washington and shared his findings in his blog, “Around Four Corners” on blogspot.com.  Once he established the basic facts, we searched in the online archives of the Washington Evening Star, The Washington Post, and a 1953 court-martial transcript on Google books.  We found that the site was the U.S. Army’s 70th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Gun Battalion, Position 68, Battery B, out of Fort Meade, in operation ca. 1953–1955.

Sean will be doing more research on the site at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland, but, in the meantime, check out the story and comments at his blog and the Woodmoor/4 Corners Facebook group.    ■


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