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Founded in the early 1890s by real estate promoter, Brainard Warner, Warner set out to create a Victorian garden community as a summer get-away for Washington’s elite. He called his creation Kensington Park.
While the town of Kensington technically sits on one-half square miles, the Kensington Post Office extends well into North Bethesda and the Wheaton Planning District. Residents within this radius generally refer to Kensington as their home, even though they may technically reside outside “The Town” itself.
The name Kensington was a tribute to the London garden district where Warner had visited while vacationing and left impressed.
Building streets, homes, churches, and even financing a newspaper and trolly, Warner was determined to see his town flourish.
By the turn of the century, Kensington had grown in stature. Local promoters advertised the town as a country suburb tucked away in the rolling hills of Maryland. It was a place “Your children will avoid the contaminating influences of city life”. Home to “people of culture and essential refinement.”
After World War II, Kensington embraced the culture of a new generation. Fascination with cars had overtaken the youth of America. The paint, the style, and the engines had everybody enthralled. Even rock and roll bands were singing about their “409”. Kensington was no different. On the western side of Connecticut Avenue, near the fire station, auto repair shops began to spring up. The street became known as Gasoline Alley and became home to the DC Dragons and the Silver Spring Ramrods, two hot rod clubs whose members souped up their Corvettes and other automobiles. The street attracted customers from all over southern Montgomery County and business boomed.
By 1980 Kensington was once again receiving accolades for it’s Victorian roots. The U.S. Interior Department listed it on the National Register of Historic Places, exemplifying a Victorian-era community. And in 1986, the Kensington Historic District was included on the Montgomery County Master Plan for Historic Preservation.
Today, residents and visitors frequent Kensington for it’s recreational paths, great local shopping, and it’s famous West Howard Avenue Antique District, just beyond the Town of Kensington and known as “Antique Row”.
Although the Town of Kensington is now an integral part of a huge metropolitan complex, it has maintained its history and individual character. A suburban enclave, a place still known for “culture and essential refinement”