The Glover Park neighborhood north of Georgetown is named for Charles C. Glover, a prominent Washington banker and civic leader. Described by Theodore Roosevelt as “the ideal citizen”, Glover used his connections and wealth to lobby for many of the public works that make DC such a special city.
Charles Glover started his career at the prestigious Riggs Bank as a clerk at the age of 20 and quickly rose up through the ranks. Within six years he made Partner, and when Riggs converted into a national bank he served as its first President.
Glover was active in many other enterprises around the city. As President of the Corcoran Art Gallery he convinced his close friend Sen. William Clark to donate a considerable personal collection that formed the core of the museum’s European holdings. Glover also served as the Director of the Washington and Georgetown Railroad, DC's first streetcar company, the forbearer to the Metro.
Glover’s business and social connections with Washington power brokers helped him exert a strong influence on beautification projects around the capital. He was an instrumental force behind many of the City Beautiful works that transformed Washington at the turn of the century. The Potomac Park, National Arboretum, and Glover-Archibald Park all owe their existence to his commitment to enhancing District’s natural beauty. Monumental buildings like National Cathedral and the Lincoln Memorial are also covered in Glover’s fingerprints.
The establishment of Rock Creek Park was Glover’s proudest achievement. Before it was a park, the valley around Rock Creek was dotted with mills, lime works, and other industrial concerns.
According to the Washington Post, the inspiration for Rock Creek Park came during a pleasure drive in 1888 with the historian George Bancroft, Senator Randall Lee Gibson, and Librarian of Congress A.R. Spofford. “It occurred to Mr. Glover that the rough and exceedingly picturesque valley of Rock Creek would make an ideal park.” “Soon thereafter the necessary bills were prepared and introduced into the two houses of Congress.”
Discouragingly, the budget-minded House of Representatives killed the bill, and a similar proposal the following year.
Glover pushed forward full tilt, temporarily abandoning his banking job and devoting “his entire time to driving members of congress over the area he proposed that the government acquire.” His lobbying succeeded and in 1890 “When the measure again came to a vote in the House it was passed by more than a quorum of the entire house.” Glover met personally with President Cleveland and got him to sign the bill into law on his last day in office.
Glover’s pride in the Rock Creek Park project led to a violent conflict in 1913 when Tennessee Congressman Thetus Sims suggested on the House floor that there were selfish and corrupt motives behind his pro-park advocacy.
Roll Call sets the scene:
“The Tennessee Democrat had given what must have seemed to be a fairly insignificant speech on the House floor in the spring of 1913. He was, like many other Congressmen, speaking out against the establishment of national parks in the District of Columbia. Sims’ mistake, however, was accusing local crusader Charles Carroll Glover of charging exorbitant prices for the land.”
The two men ran into each other shortly thereafter, and in Charles Glover’s words, “I slapped him on the side of his face with my open palm as hard as I could.” This knocked the hat off of Sims’ head, and witnesses described the shocked man shouting “I need protection! I need protection!’ “You certainly do”, Glover retorted, “Then I slapped him again, in a very vigorous slap.”
Sims - perhaps out of embarrassment - accepted a subsequent apology and wanted to drop the issue, but his colleagues in the Tennessee delegation pressed for criminal charges. Glover was placed under arrest by the House Sergeant at Arms, but his numerous friends in Congress ensured that the only punishment was a slap on the wrist reprimand from the Speaker of the House.
When Charles Glover died in 1936 The Washington Post ran a front page 2,400 word obituary celebrating his life and contributions to the city. A public funeral was held at National Cathedral, attended by dignitaries from the Supreme Court, district government, and diplomatic corps. Glover was buried at Oak Hill Cemetery on the banks of his beloved Rock Creek. Two streets, a bridge, park, and a neighborhood in Washington are named in his honor.