More than 50 residents of the Glover Tunlaw Apartments demonstrated peacefully at Ward Circle yesterday afternoon to protest the purchase of their building by American University for use as a dormitory.

The demonstrators, including several elderly tenants of the building at 2725 39th St. NW, held up placards asking motorists to honk their horns if they supported their cause. Several passersby responded by holding up clenched fists and yelling words of encouragement.

"I thought I had found myself a lovely apartment, took care of it, and all for nothing," said Clara Paszkiewicz, 72, as she held up a protest sign. Paszkiewicz, who lives alone at Glover Tunlaw, declared that the students who would move into the apartments would not take care of them. "I don't know why lovely apartments must be wasted," she said.

Dr. Michael Kossak, a member of the newly formed Glover Tunlaw Tenants Association, said the protesters planned to mount a "massive" public relations campaign against American University. Their next action will be a demonstration at the school's commencement exercises Sunday, Kossak said.

Kossak said that one elderly resident who has lived in the building since it opened 17 years ago was so shaken when she received her eviction notice April 29, that she refused to eat and was taken to a hospital. Another elderly resident has a broken pelvis and will not be able to look for another apartment, he said.There are about 125 residents in the five-story, 63-unit building and all have been served with eviction notices.

Brian Frosh, an attorney hired to represent the tenants, charged that the univerity is violating the D.C. rental accommodation act. He said he hoped to arrange a hearing on the is sue before the rental accommodation commission within two weeks.

The university has offered to help tenants, particularly the elderly, to find new homes, but thus far has been firm in its intention to convert the property into a dormitory.