The tenants of the Kenesaw Building, which has become a landmark in the fight against real estate speculation in Adams-Morgan and Mount Pleasant, thought they had won the battle to buy their building last June.

Now, however - two days before final opening of practice settlement was to take place - it appears that victory may be in jeopardy.

Judge Charles R. Richey of U.S. District Court in Washington yesterday issued a temporary restraining order that will be at least postpone the tenants' purchase. Depending upon the outcome of a trial to be held next Wednesday, the tenants may lose the building at 3060 16th St. NW altogether.

The plaintiff in the case is the NEMAC Development Corp. of Providence, R.I.The defendant is the building's owner, Antioch University, which NEMAC contends has breached a contract signed by lawyers for both parties.

NEMAC, had offered $825,000 for the building on May 23, but that offer was matched by the tenants working in conjunction with the nonprofit D.C. Development Corp. NEMAC then offered $900,000. That figure could not be matched under the terms of an earlier agreement between Antioch and DCDC. But tenants of the building flew to Antioch's main campus in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and met with the university's trustees on June 3.

As a result of that meeting, Antioch's president William M. Birenbaum announced at a press conference here five days later that the university in accordance with its longstanding tradition of social conscience and responsibility, would forego the $75,000 difference in the bids and "sell Kenesaw to the representatives of the tenants in the building."

NEMAC's lawyers contended yesterday that the $900,000 offer had been legally accepted, and however, as of May 30, Birenbaum had no right to sell the building to DCDC and the tenants.