When President Grover Cleveland wanted to escape the heat around the White House, he bought a summer getaway in what is now Cleveland Park -- where temperatures averaged 15 degrees cooler. In summer Cleveland became a commuter, picking up his wife every afternoon in a horse and buggy for the three-mile trip up Connecticut Avenue. Around the turn of the century, iron-truss bridges, trolley cars and real estate developers turned it into a suburb.
Today, Cleveland Park is a stop on Metro's Red Line, but it's still a pleasant place to while away a summer day. Cleveland's old home on Newark Street -- called Red Tops after the Clevelands painted the roof scarlet -- is gone, but there are lots of other great old buildings. And now, as never in Cleveland's time, there are lots of places to shop, browse, eat and drink. Here are some suggestions, all within easy walking distance of the metro. LOOKING: Red Tops' Newark Street neighbor, ROSEDALE, was built before the president's home and still stands at 3501 Newark Street NW. The 1740 farmhouse, in the words of guide author and critic E. J. Applewhite, "has a certain rambling, vernacular charm. There is no record of Washington having slept here, but he dined here as the guest of Gen. Uriah Forrest, and worked on plans for the capital with Major Pierre L'Enfant." Around the corner and on the original Rosedale land at 3415 36TH STREET NW stands one of Washington's few art-moderne houses, designed by architect Waldron Faulkner and built as his own residence in 1937. Quintessential Cleveland Park homes with wraparound porches may be viewed on Macomb and Newark streets and on Ashley Terrace and Highland Place, off Newark Street. Note especially the brown-shingled Victorian with the red-tile pagoda on Highland Place. Back on Connecticut Avenue, buildings worth at least a second glance are the fire house, ENGINE COMPANY 28, built in 1916 at Connecticut and Ordway and the UPTOWN THEATER, one of the city's last surviving art deco movie houses, at 3426 Connecticut Avenue. SHOPPING AND BROWSING: In a small store shared with a Casablanca-type ceiling fan outlet at 3507 Connecticut is the center of a cottage industry of smockers, WARFIELD OF WASHINGTON. "I named it that because my name means war field in German," explains Ethel Kriegsfeld, doyenne of the shop, which also sells everything from breast pumps to pottery, and conducts smocking and knitting classes. "We have a group of very talented people, mainly mothers or professional people who just like to smock in their spare time. We have one little Amish lady in Pennsylvania who just does whatever comes into her heart,"says Kriegsfeld. Little girls' dresses are smocked to order with such whimsical touches as bunnies with cotton tails, for an average of $35, and some smocked things are sold off the rack. CORRADO'S interior design shop at 3421 Connecticut has a little of everything and a lot of new chinoiserie, but on summer Saturdays there's window shopping only. To complete your eastern decor, shop for an Oriental rug at NESHAN G. HINTLIAN, a block down. To decorate your own body, STEIN'S DANCE THEATER SHOP at 3429 Connecticut has feather boas, belly dancing costumes, Yoda masks, angel wings and witch hats, as well as lanterns and ballet slippers for children and adults. You can also buy all kinds of stage makeup, including Texas dirt powder, and sequined pasties. "I've already sold two pair in Cleveland Park," says the clerk, wide-eyed. "Both buyers requested anonymity." Next door, the BOUTIQUE at 3407 Connecticut sells a lot of Asian goods, such as ceramic pandas from China and blouses from the Philippines. You can buy comfortable, flat Chinese shoes in plain black canvas for $6. If you cross Connecticut at Newark, you'll see a small 1940s-style shopping center, which houses YOUNG PLAYWAYS, a toy store specializing in educational games and equipment that kids seem to think are fun anyway. It's a good place to browse in with children because the management usually encourages kids to play with at least one toy on display. UPTOWN COINS at 3415 Connecticut has Civil War bullets for 75 cents, Australian wedding crowns to commemorate the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana for $2.50 each, as well as stamps and coins for serious collectors. NONOMURA STUDIOS at 3432 Connecticut specializes in repairing Oriental objets d'art but has some things for sale. Browsers are permitted to view the antique wedding chests, Chinese screens and vases. True to its reputation as a haven for the literati, or at least the literate, Cleveland Park has several bookish establishments. There's a branch of the D.C. PUBLIC LIBRARY at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Macomb Street, and a CHRISTIAN SCIENCE READING ROOM in one of the wings of the Uptown Theater. In the Uptown's other wing, the CALLIOPE BOOK SHOP at 3424 Connecticut specializes in literature, history and philosophy and always has some remaindered books for perusal on the sidewalk. The newest bookstore on the block -- actually on the next block at 3505 Connecticut and up a flight of stairs -- is the COLUMBIA BOOKSTORE, featuring rare and second-hand books. It sells everything from 20-cent paperbacks to thousand-dollar-plus, rare first editions. It's open from 11 to 7 daily and until 11 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On Thursday evenings, art dealer Paul Schweitzer talks about Ykiyp-e. Taisho-Showa and modern Japanese prints on sale in a corner of the store. The ARTISAN LAMP COMPANY at 3514 Connecticut will repair your old lamp or sell you a finial or any other part a do-it-yourselfer needs. The store also has a large selection of restored antique lamps, from 1930s floor lamps to Victorian chandeliers, to buy or admire. It's almost impossible to browse at VA-CE, the Italian grocery store at 3510 Connecticut, without buying something. Everything is so tempting. There's homemade pasta, Italian sausage, pesto, walnut sauce for pasta, cheeses, even pizza by the slice. The pasta and sausages are made just up the street in a shop whose blinds are usually drawn. But on hot days the door is sometimes left open and you can watch the fresh fettucine being extruded from the giant pasta machines. EATING,ETCETERA: History was made at the YENCHING PALACE at 3524 Connecticut, according to a notation on the back of its menu: "During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, the Yenching Palace was one of the meeting sites of the personal intermediary of President John F. Kennedy and the emissary of the Soviet Premier, Nikita Khrushchev," reads the blurb. "It was at the last of these meetings held at the Yenching Palace that the final terms were agreed upon which ended the crisis and avoided war." The menu itself makes no history, being limited to standard fare, mostly Cantonese. The moo-shu pork with Chinese pancakes is great, especially when washed down with Chinese beer. There's a Sunday all-you-can- eat buffet from noon to 2:30 pm, $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for children under 10. The ROMA has been a Washington institution since 1920, moving to 3419 Connecticut from its original downtown location. The food is edible but unremarkable, with pasta and pizza the best bet. But the ambiance is ample and varied. There are a lot of stuffed animals shot by the late globe-trotting owner, a wonderful summer garden complete with grape arbor and colored-water fountain and free entertainment by a magician, a pianist and a violinist. "Our pianist knows 6,000 songs," brags the violinist, claiming a more modest repertoire for hims warmed over; the mussels, though in a tasty garlic and parsley sauce, were less than fresh; the scallops provencale, though fresh and nicely seasoned, sat on a plate with puddles of lukewarm, ketchup-like tomato sauce; and the sauce for the duckling had too much cornstarch in it. Special dinners, including first courses, salad, main course, vegetable, dessert, salad and coffee, are available for $11.95 on week nights. A relative newcomer among Cleveland Park restaurants is the CAFE ITALIANO at 3516 Connecticut, whose energetic owner, Dino Floreno, greets guests, pours wine, helps in the kitchen and recently opened another restaurant just off Wisconsin Avenue. The white-walled, low-ceilinged rooms are hung with oil paintings and the food can be both excellent -- as was the linguine frutta di mare -- and disappointing -- as was a fish salad with little seafood except squid and a few tiny shrimp, too much celery and an uninteresting dressing. At IRELAND'S FOUR PROVINCES you can sit under the green-and white-striped awning and sip Irish coffee or dine on fish and chips or Irish stew. Inside, on alternate Sundays, there's a ceili. "We put down a dance floor and if you know Irish dancing you can do it," says a waitress. "If not, you can just do regular dancing." Weekend nights there's always entertainment. Call 244-0860 for the current schedule. Still hungry? There's a SWENSENS for ice cream at 3414 Connecticut; EDDIE'S Uptown Pizzeria and Sandwich Shop at 3335 Connecticut; and GALLAGHER'S PUB at 3319 Connecticut.