The Historical Committee during the last year has been discussing plans to redo it’s first street marker, Waugh Avenue, which contains several inaccuracies and mistakes. Readers are invited to comment to improve the next marker:


James E. Waugh, after whom this street was initially named, was a driving force behind the creation of this community. He was born on July 14, 1841 in Georgetown, D.C. and on February 15, 1858, married Rachel Sarah Victoria McKelden. Waugh began his career as a grocery merchant, worked for a time as a clerk in the Treasury Department, and then went into the real estate and insurance business.

At the onset of the Civil War, Waugh organized a company of volunteers, the Eagle Guards, for the defense of the capital city. He served as First Lieutenant and then as Sergeant under Captain Degges until the unit dissolved in June 1861. Waugh was also a member of the Masonic Order of the Knights Templar, Columbia Commandery No. 2, in which he served as Eminent Commander in 1876, and an honorary member of the National Rifles.

In 1886, Waugh, with Washington businessman David Lamb, began to buy up land east of the B&O Railroad between the Branchville and College Lawn stations to create a new suburban development. In 1888, Waugh and business partners Edward Graves and Benjamin Charlton had the land surveyed and platted under the name of Charlton Heights. In 1889, they incorporated the Charlton Heights Improvement Company (CHIC), which built a score of houses and basic infrastructure and began to sell properties.

Sales in the development were slow and CHIC failed in 1892. Waugh died of a stroke in 1895 in his Charlton Heights home near Edmonston Road.

Author: Kerstin Harper
Sources: BHHC Waugh pamphlet; Don Skarda’s History of a Small Town; Ann Harris Davidson’s Then & Now: Berwyn Heights; Library of Congress digital archive of historic newspapers

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