December 2012 Archives

InShaw 2013

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I am looking forward to 2013, despite various reasons not. It's comin' regardless of what I, you or anyone else wants.

2012 was pretty productive for me. There is the on-going Truxton Circle Project that took up most of my year trying to be in line with the grant timetable. I am so happy that the street level history, or elements of that history, is available to any TC resident to use as he or she pleases. In 2013 I'd like to do more and so I'll be ending the InShaw blog sometime in the coming year (March, May or June) to make room for Truxton Circle stuff.

Page from 1921? City Directory
1921? Directory Showing New Jersey Avenue NW
house numbers and occupants.

The two sites share the same server with limited bandwith and space, so I'll be doing some data cleanup. The old Blogger version of the In Shaw blog also hangs out at , which may allow me to clean up some space by removing what's sitting on the server, so I can put up big honking data rich files about Truxton Circle residents in the early to mid-20th century. I hope in the new year to add more data, such as city directories like the one seen here. Maybe if I can figure out the OCR software for the scanner or get a good OCR program, I might be able to put them in some searchable form. But first I got to clean up 10 years of InShaw.

The blog isn't going away, it will still be available on the web, with the bulk of it sitting over at Blogspot and a few years on this server at the URL.

After InShaw, I hope to dedicate some more time to a blog I inherited but haven't updated as much as I would like, the Vacant Property blog. There are some other blogs too that I've neglected as well.

Since I started blogging there are now more neighborhood blogs with authors who cover more of what's happening on the hyperlocal level. One example is the BACA blog, it covers not just the area around Bates Street, but a bit of Blooingdale, the Hanover Street area, central Shaw and Mt. Vernon Square, since as neighborhoods we're connected and impact each other, good and bad. Also Scott Roberts of Bloomingdale of the Bloomingdale Blog and the BACA blog keeps residents very well informed.

13 doesn't have to be bad. You can be like Taylor Swift and believe that it is a very good number.  From my own area in the TC,  I can see Progression Place and the O Street market changing the skyline. They, as well as smaller projects nearby, will be done in 2013, changing the neighborhood, for the best. I'm looking forward to the new year, new neighbors, new eateries, new businesses, new challenges, and new experiences.

Happy New Year, y'all.

2nd and Florida

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Two Bloomingdale Blogs wrote about the space at 2nd and Florida.

Scott Roberts got a tip from someone that the building at the corner of 2nd and Florida Avenue NW, the one with the large sidewalk space that is used for martial arts practice, has sold. Then the Bloomingdale History Project has a little quick history of the place.

Commerce and community

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Earlier this month Richard Layman of Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space sorta quoted me in his post "In lower income neighborhoods, are businesses supposed to be "community organizations" first?" Neither one of us remember exactly what I said, and I would say, "businesses not social welfare organizations," or something like that. It more than likely came after one of a dozen community meetings where some business was proposing to the community group where the owner needed a variance or ABRA license or some city government approval, and someone would ask if the owner was going to hire community youths, or the like. But those were the kinds of questions asked many years ago. Now residents of the community are asking about things like parking, now that it is becoming harder to get that spot in front of your house these days.
I'll still say commercial enterprises are not like non-profit community organizations, but are part of the community and like members of the community can add or detract. The old guys who sell heroin* on the corner are unfortunately a part of the community as the nice Ethiopians who sell donuts. Say what you will about the Big Bear Cafe, it has become an amenity that shows up in Craigslist ads for nearby basement apartments. That is one commercial enterprise aiding a smaller commercial (renting out your basement) activity, that may improve the life of residents (the resident landlords) in a way no non-profit would do.
Big Bear is one example of where there has been a vibrant relationship between a business and a community. It was members of the community who supported the liquor license, and the zoning change and supported the attached seasonal farmers market, against other forces in the community pushing against those things.
Many of us want a walkable neighborhood, and well you need stuff to walk to, like a supermarket (coming in 2013), or a corner market that may or may not source local or artisan foods, or a dry cleaners, or a restaurant or take away, or an art gallery, you get my gist. You want to walk to some business, some commercial enterprise to pick up a new dog leash or grab a drink, along with choices. I can walk to one of 3 pizza places, 4 different places to grab a bite to eat with a glass of wine, 4-5 places to grab a bottle of wine, and so on. And just to throw it out there the government/non-profit places such as metro stations, post offices, and worship spaces are good too.
There are sadly some legal business activity that detract from neighborhood improvement. Not to name any names, because I don't want to burn the bridges of redemption, let's imagine a liquor store being a type of negative business or a greasy carry out or a fly by night operation. I can imagine an instance where say a liquor store has hindered or set back community efforts to improve a section of neighborhood. Or an enterprise that may be a bait and switch, getting the community to support one thing, but the owner plans to switch it with another. In those cases, those businesses or business people really do need to 'give back' what they have taken away, in some cases a sort of restorative justice is needed.

*Our part of the TC has gone from the young guys who sell crack 24-7 to the old guys who sell heroin, eh, whenever. Though both are really bad, the old guys are a slight improvement. Still I want the old guys gone too.

I'm Dreaming of a White Day After Christmas

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Snow on 9th & O

Eye um, dreaming of a white day after Christmas.

Just like the ones I used to know.

We've got snow. Not a lot. It will probably melt by noon. It came down with some hail, which made the sidewalks icy. So be careful.

Thursday Misc

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600 T St Nw

600 T St NW

Trash collection is going to be off by one day.(BACA)

City Market at O blog claims their bathrooms in their junior apartments are roomy enough for 7 construction guys to stand around in.

If 40% of y'all are leaving to visit elsewhere (Post) for Christmas, make sure someone is going to keep an eye on your house. I'd rather be in Vegas for Christmas, but nah, I'm stuck here. Anyway put a hold on the mail and ask someone to remove the Chinese takeout menu from the door.

DC Urban Turf compared Truxton Circle as well as a few other hoods from 2010 and 2012. A fun comparision would be 2002 and 2012.

DC Council voted for a surcharge with the purpose of helping those whose homes were damaged by the sewage floods this year. Let's keep an eye on this to see if this works or if residents' claims are denied, again. [Bloomingdale]

The Help and School

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I was talking with the Help about a GGW post that I commented on about charter schools and asked him if I could tell his story. The crime took place about 25 years ago so I guess it is safe to talk about since one of the responsible parties are dead and the other is ill. The crime was lying about the Help family address so the Help could go to a 'better' school.

In arguments about school choice, charters, and DC Public schools there is this strain of belief that middle class parents must/will leave their kids in DCPS so DCPS will get better. There just needs to be enough middle class and or motivated and dedicated parents to turn a school and a school system around. However, parents can be selfish and only thinking about their own kids and not the city's children as the case with my in-laws have proven.

The Help grew up in the Silicon Valley area, before Silicon Valley was super high tech and what not, in a middle classish neighborhood. His mom was an elementary school teacher and his dad a lineman at the GE factory. When it came time for the Help to go high school, his parents used their friends' address to get him into Santa Teresa High* and avoid Thomas Madison*, which according to the Help was a drug and gang infested school. Kevin, the Help's next door neighbor of the same age, moved several blocks away into Oakdale High's* boundary.

When my in-laws chose Santa Teresa over Thomas Madison they weren't thinking academics, which is a topic often brought up in comparing DCPS and DC charters. Academics were the furthest from their minds, they were very concerned about safety. Little good that did, because the Help got punched in the nose by a bully and still bears the scar from that today. Except for that and other things related to living a lie about your address, he had a decent high school experience and was able to get into the University of California system.

When we went back to Silicon Valley to visit family, we took the pastor who married us out to lunch. Apparently Santa Teresa or Oakdale (I don't remember) is heading downward and the pastor and his family are moving to get into a better school. Better, still meaning not drug and gang infested, not necessarily better academically.

Studies showing that charter schools are not always academically superior, or citing that there is an unfair advantage charters have or whatnot, is not as meaningful when the parent measures the desirability of a school by other values. In the case of my in-laws it was safety. In the case of some friends it was finding an environment where their child flourished emotionally.

My point is policy people will advocate what is best for their policy and most parents will do what they believe is best for their children. If that means moving, they will move, and lots do. If that means trying other options, like breaking the law and lying about where they really live, they'll do that too. Well that would explain all the Maryland license plates I see in front of one DC charter school.


*The names of the school have been slightly changed.

509 O St NW - raze

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Martin uploaded the video and I agree with one of the DCRA/BCIB voices that it was once a lovely property but it's a danger to the neighboring properties and the community.

Do Your Own Neighborhood History- Maps

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I would love it if other folks did a neighborhood history using evidence beyond oral histories*. However, I do know that the census portion is a PITA and a lot of work, so I would recommend just doing one block. What can be done for a larger area are maps. Where do you find the maps? All over. Let's start with the Washingtonia Room, on the 3rd floor, at the MLK Library downtown.

MLK Washingtonia Room

Here is a photo of the maps area. On those shelves are big volumes of DC city maps that go to the level of structures. Here I found the 1887 maps for Truxton Circle and later years up into the 1950s. First thing after grabbing the year of your choice is look at the map index in the front. Find your general area, and if it is in that volume. Old City (L'Enfant's drawn city) NW tends to be in Volume 1s. NE at times is in another volume. The index will tell you. If you are in 'suburban' DC, like Tenleytown or Brookland or such, I have no idea, but the index should point you in the right direction. If you want to take pictures take in account that the overhead lights and the shiny mylar are an annoying combination. Also be aware of copyright laws if you plan to put this up on-line, anything 1923 and before is fine.

Another good source is the Library of Congress and you don't have to leave home.

You can access some Sanborn maps from 1888 to 1916. For me I didn't find those Sanborns helpful because they didn't come over to eastern NW DC as far as I would have liked. There are more Sanborns that the Library of Congress has access to, and I used those to map out segregation patterns, but you have to go to the LC.

You can also access Baist maps from the LC's webpage but it requires a bit more digging. Also it would help if you had some software that can read (or won't freeze on you when using) JPEG2000 files, so you can download the files and crop them as needed.

If you just want to see what is out there or order some prints for yourself there are other options. Paul Williams of Kelsey & Associates sells full sized copies of 1887 Hopkins maps on-line on Ebay. If you want other years by Baist, I have used Historic Map Works. I have bought copies of various sizes from them for friends and my own research. Search under District of Columbia, under United States. Recently I have been told about a site like Historic Map Works called Ward Maps. Their Baist maps go up to 1939, and for several maps they claim to have authentic antique maps for sale.


*Oral histories are like witness testimony, worthwhile and informative. But the physical evidence is powerful too.

Monday Misc

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DCist Exposed- From their email- "Now in our 7th year, we feature the best Washington, D.C. area photography through the eyes of the people who live, work and play here. We put up a new website this year where you can find all the past winners, links to our photo publications, and of course the application. It's just $10 to submit 3 entries by January 9, 2013. The winning images will be displayed at Long View Gallery in late March -- we host two opening nights, typically attended by well over 1,000 visitors and celebrating D.C. with local brews and other surprises." See

Lotteries are to school systems as the proposed DC Water surcharge is to Bloomingdale residents- DC Water/WASA is not generous. When it was discovered there were lead pipes all over the place, homeowners had to pay to fix the pipe that went from the sidewalk to the house, though for many of us, our front yard isn't really ours, we just have rights to plant on it. And when Bloomingdale residents put in for claims with DC Water they were told they had no claim. In the claim denial letter one resident shared DC Water doesn't admit responsiblity, so what good would a surcharge do? Will a surchage make DC Water take back blaming homeowners for not having a backflow preventers or having basement living spaces not renovated in a way that DC Water wants it? Keep in mind the ones who put in the basements are not always the ones who have the basements now. There can be a couple turnovers between renovator and current owner/renter. We've discovered that sometimes DCRA isn't enforcing all the steps going into renovations.

Get that final report in whenever- I'm pretty much done with 1622 4th St NW. According to Redfin, it is under contract and now (as far as I'm concerned) the responsiblity of the potential new owner to check into permits and construction quality. Prior to it becoming 'pending', we were following up on the permits and approvals. It went on the market and the final report, which we were told is supposed to be in 5 days after it's all done, wasn't submitted to DCRA. DCRA seemed to think it was coming at any moment (it's probably in the mail). It has been over a week since hitting the market and it appears it still hasn't been submitted to DCRA. Using my super-librarian powers I looked at the flipper/Realtor duo's (same owner and real estate agent) previous flip on the 5100 block of 3rd St NW. Looking at DCRA's PIVS they didn't seem to submit any final report there either, but I don't really know how much work there was to do there. Besides nobody bothers following up on these permit things, I know I didn't look into it when I bought my place. Going by PIVS I, and several of my neighbors did bother with a final inspection when we renovated. If you are buying a place with a basement, I'd really check up on the permits and such, so later you too won't have to get a claim denial letter from DC Water.

Bad framing.jpeg

Ballon framing-

 Speaking of 1622, I learned something about the framing I saw that alarmed me, it is a type of ballon framing. Most, many builders do not use this kind of framing. It fell out of fashion in the 30s and was not really used for attached houses. It has some plusses and minuses. See more here.

Back to DC Water- For years I have heard talk that DC Water was going to do something about the old combined sewer problem, in the future. As the future gets closer, they are changing their mind. No surprise there. A new study is another form of procrastination.

Carter G. Woodson Celebration- Never mind the decaying building. I'ma gonna just copy and paste from the H-Net site:

Dr. Carter G. Woodson Birthday Celebration
Location: Shiloh Baptist Church 1500 9th St NW, Mary McLeod Bethune
Council House National Historic Site | Map
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Fee Information: none
Contact Name: Joy Kinard
Contact Phone Number: 202-673-2402

You are invited to join the National Park Service and
the Association for the Study of African American Life
and History to celebrate the 137th
birthday of
Dr. Carter G. Woodson.
Date:   December 19, 2012
Time:   6:00-8:00 p.m.
Location:  Shiloh Baptist Church
         1500 9th Street, N.W.
                  Washington, D.C. 20001
* Reception following the event sponsored by
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
For More Information Please Call: (202) 673-2402

Historic details on the inside- There is a house that went on the market 1431 3rd St NW. From the photos there are a lot of cute historic details inside. Would be a shame if some developer/flipper bought it, ripped out the details and replaced it with some Home Depot special.

Truxton Circle Data Mapped Out

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I got an exciting email. Well exciting to me. Mike Smorul created a block browser using the TC data I put up on . This is one of those things I hoped people would do, use the data, play with it, and share what they've learned. It's out there.

The link for this is . It seems to work best in Firefox. IE didn't seem to like it. Go to it, play with it, it's fun.

Is that your bag

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Is this your bag?

Such simple words can mean so much.

This obviously is no one's bag. It is a bag filled with trash. When getting on the metro to go to a dental appointment I avoided that seat, like I do seats on the bus that have the abandoned bag of trash sitting on a seat or crammed into that little section between the wall and the seat.

Not to long after I took this picture, a unifomed WMATA employee got on. He poked at the bag with his rolled up newspaper and decided to sit behind the bag and read his paper. When the train got into Maryland, there was a Metro employee picking up trash with one of those long handled grabber sticks. He cleaned up about 2/3 of the car I was in, and chose to move on to the next car as I left the metro system. Who knows that bag of trash could still be riding the rails.

Yes, I could have picked up the bag and put it in the trash. Half of the time I do pick up Metro trash. This was one of those times I did not.

Wednesday Misc

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TC resident Anita Bonds will have to update her LinkedIn page to reflect that she is now serving as the interim city At-Large Councilmember. (HT GGW. Also she was a former ANC for the neighborhood.

Speaking of ANCs, it seems there was be a recount for the Thomas vs Robinson-Paul 5E05 race. No changes, Robinson-Paul is still the victor.

A house goes up for sale on 3rd St (1500 blk there are some cool people there), but the description sounds like trouble. "REO Occupied - the seller does not represent or guarantee occupancy status. NO VIEWINGS of this property. Please DO NOT DISTURB the occupant. "As is" cash only sale with no contingencies or inspections. Buyer will be responsible for obtaining possession of the property upon closing. The property at 1524 3rd St Nw, Washington, DC is a Residential Single Family property with 3 bedroom(s) and 1.0 bathroom(s), built in 1900 and is 1248 square feet. Submit your offer today!" $350K . Also the building date looks wrong. If this is lot 16, it was there in 1887.

I don't really care about cab colors. I'd like them to stay out of the bike lane, be clear if they are available, and when I hail you, let me in the car. Give me those first and we'll talk design. It's like fretting about the design of the deck chairs on the Titanic.

History repeats itself. DC Water provides jack shyte to Bloomingdale residents, the same way they denied my and my neighbors claims years ago. Any tales of residents getting nice checks from WASA out there?

Speaking of Bloomingdale, one of it's newest businesses is in today's Food section. For you whippersnappers who don't do dead tree news, here's the link.

DC Mud chats with Suzane Reatig, and it explains somethings, but an explanation is not a good excuse.

Some Histories Are More Popular Than Others

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I ran into an old colleague who asked if I'd be willing to speak to their African American group about my project. Truth be told I have about 2 projects, Truxton Circle is one, there is another one relating to history and DC, but it is a side-side project. So I am still a little unclear which history project we were talking about.

Whichever one we were talking about any presentation would have to be tailored to the group. Naturally. One of the few things I remember about my public speaking class in college was knowing your audience. More than likely it was the Truxton Circle neighborhood genealogy thing and my collegue mentioned that the last time I spoke I was talking about other types of people. Yes, I'm moving towards looking at the TC as a multi-racial history, where everybody counts because I'm trying to count everybody. Yes, I could look at the TC from a strictly African American perspective, that would be easy, I'd just have to focus on the 20th century and there isn't that much from the 19th. I'd examine the patterns of segregation, where Blacks were shut out of certain rentals, and the such.

Despite my own interest, I wonder if multi-racial history actually sells. I should thank Carter G. Woodson for his pioneering in the area African American (then Negro) history, so we could think about racial history in the first place. But right now I'd really like it if his house wasn't plotting to kill pedestrians with flying bricks or whatever that has the Park Service blocking off a portion of 9th St.

I don't know if there is an audience the type of history I'm interested in. The residents of the Truxton Circle neighborhood, a small section of the original Shaw neighborhood*, are my main audience. What I've been trying to do is a neighborhood history that has a multi-racial theme. I would love it if others did the same for their neigborhood or block, regardless if they find it has been one racial group dominating. The only way you'll find out is if you dig deeply.


*I like to throw this in to remind y'all.


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Costco Sunday Wine
Sad face :-(

No wine for me at Costco. I gather if they have harder stuff, that's hidden away.
Also we figured there is another way to get to the DC Costco and not have to go on to New York Ave. We figured this on our way out, by getting on to South Dakota Ave, NE. The light is right at the Goodwill, then you go past some suburban houses a 4 way stop that isn't marked 4 way. After that you are in the big, big Costco parking lot. New York Ave, heading west, gives you a straighter shot. From the TC and Bloomingdale, the Pentagon City Costco is closer, but this one does not require crossing a bridge and the tax dollars go to the District.

The set up is a little like the Beltsville Costco we go to. There seems to be less in the way of fresh seafood though. We'll have to go on a slow weekday to spend more time meandering around and booze buying. Today we just bought a bunch of candy, vitamins and some steelhead (fish). Next time I can give a better report.

Heading back to the car we noticed a good number of Maryland license plates as well as a lot of DC tags. Good job capturing those MD dollars. Maybe all those admin assistants and other office ladies who plan the retirement parties and the holiday and other random office celebrations will stop by here grabbing sheet cakes and party platters.
Sq 554- 1939-MLK
Taken at the MLK Library,
Washingtonia Collection.
At the DC Humanities DC Community Heritage Project Showcase a question was asked if there would be any collaboration between Truxton Circle and the M St High School/Dunbar project. Unfortunately, it did not seem that anyone from the Chowan Discovery Group (sponsor) was there to answer the question.
These things can get solitary in some aspects because you're so focused on your own thing. I had no interaction with the people doing "Dunbar High School- The Classic Age," mainly because I was focusing on different sources, in a different medium, over a different time period. Little matter that Dunbar High wound up in the Truxton Circle study area and we happen to be doing this in the same year. Also my focus is on individual people, thousands of individuals, and not organizations or buildings.
I'd hope that a lot of Dunbar High School related matter is over at the Charles Sumner School Archives, a wonderful resource regarding all things DC Public School related. I used this resource when trying to figure out what was the racial make up of the Twining School, which is now gone. It shared a square with Dunbar. I guess when Dunbar tore down their brick building to replace it with a prison-like structure, they tore down Twining as well. But I digress.
What is next?
Well in 2013 I'll celebrate the 10th anniversary of InShaw and end the blog. I will turn my attention to doing more neighborhood history at among other things. What I want to do is take a closer look at individuals, find out what's their story, and continue error checking. I'd like to bring the DC city directories and DC tax records that show ownership. I want to dig deeply into the character of the neighborhood by looking closely at the people of the neighborhood. I know I need to do a better job of explaining the census and how to use and understand the information. Please ask questions, because that is the only way I know that I'm missing something.
One of the reasons I am so happy to have the data up on Truxton Circle, is that I can talk about things and not be the only one holding on to this information. Also don't be afraid of the information, and if you're not sure about something, just email me and ask.
Well it looks like 1622 4th St NW will get an offer soon, if someone hasn't put in a bid as I type. If the contract goes through I am very pleased with one thought, hard questions are being asked.

Potential buyers are asking about the inspection reports, looking past the pretty wood floors, and giving the place a critical look.
If the builder undid the crazy frame job I saw, then good. Or if the framing is some new fangled trend in building then, yeah, that's between him and the buyer now. The buyer should at least know about that and the stop work orders. My future neighbors deserve to be informed.

So, be it this or another house, ask the hard questions and seek the truth.

See previous entries:
What's wrong with 1622 4th St NW
The 1622 4th St NW saga continues
Stop Work Dilemma
1622 4th St NW DC- Schadenfreude II

Stuff nobody tells you, hidden behind the walls II

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Note: This is semi-related to "What's wrong with 1622 4th St NW" .

A year or more after I bought my house, I decided that I did not want my washer and dryer in my tiny kitchen. I decided to buy a new washer and dryer and stick them down in the cellar so I could double my counterspace to about 2 feet. All was fine and dandy until the men working on the hookups went to attach the new pipe to the main stack. The main stack is that big PVC pipe that carries away the greywater and sewage into the sewers. They went to touch it and it fell apart.

Let's take this back to a month before I bought my house and a man I call Sonny the Nigerian was 'renovating' the house. The house was owned by a man, now since dead, and his wife who did not live in the house. Sonny was 'fixing' the place up for sale. For the price point and the fact that the area had drug dealers 24-7 and hot mess prostitutes, Sonny didn't bother undoing the crackhead design elements. What he did was hide the problems, and install and wire things ineptly. I had lots of ungrounded plugs, hot plugs, possibly set your house on fire plugs. And later I found, plumbing pipes held together with sheer will instead of pvc cement.

I will admit when buying the place I was impressed by the 'activity' going on with the painting and sanding and busywork. It was better than the place on 5th St I looked at where the seller didn't even bother cleaning up the mess left by his last tenants. My ladder-less home inspector did mention the unconventional aspects of Sonny's reno work. I knew it was an old house and I had visions of re-doing the house anyway, so Sonny's work was a decent temporary fix. I just wish I knew how temporary and how bad.

This is the same Sonny who put up the unreliable cabinets in someone else's house. I didn't feel moved to warn the residents, prefering to do the passive hazing of letting them find out for themselves, which in retrospect, seems very mean. So my wanting to warn the future buyer of 1622 4th Street NW of the structural issues and the possibility of other behind the wall problems, I consider less mean than letting them find out for themselves.

Where is Truxton Circle?

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Last night was great. I and my indexers were at the DC Humanties Council DC Community Heritage Project Showcase. We exhibited our little brochures and examples of what one could find at Our two most asked questions were the following:

Where is Truxton Circle?


Where the hell is Truxton Circle?

For the purposes of the study area it is the Northwest neighborhood bounded by North Capitol Street, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Florida Avenues NW. You could also say it's bounded by New Jersey, Florida, and New York Avenues, including the NE portion. But most of the NE portion is DDOT, a gas station, the Wendy's, a butt ugly pop-up, and a handful of houses.

It helped if I mentioned that the physical circle no longer exists. I hope I have answered the question.

Thursday Misc- Parcel 42, 1622, and a bar

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East Shaw reports the results of the ANC vote regarding Parcel 42, as does the City paper- This did not go to UHOP (thank g-d).

City market at O mentioned that the A&D Neighborhood bar on 9th (not too far from the city market construction) opened yesterday.

Regarding 1622 the Help wants me to be more postive. He was looking over my shoulder the last time I wrote about it. He would like me to remind y'all that I'm not trying to prevent it from getting sold. Nor is it my intention to scare anyone away from the neighborhood, because this is a great neighborhood and an awesomely great block. I just want buyers to be informed, because those buyers will be my neighbors, and I like my neighbors.

No leaf pick up for you Midcity

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Leaf.JPGLooking at the DC Leaf Collection website, it looks like central /eastern Shaw/Midcity is screwed. No leaf pick up for you!

Truxton Circle will get leaf pick up on pass 1, represented by the yellow. When is Pass 1? It would be nice to know because we collected leaves in bags.... I know, you'd prefer it if we just rake the leaves into tree boxes, but there is this thing called wind. Wind blows. That wind thing picks up the leaves we have raked into the tree box and deposits them into the gutter. When the cars aren't there in the day, while we're at work, the wind then blows the leaves into the catchment basin thingamabob. Wind also blows the leaves back on to the sidewalk. We have noticed that wind is an invisible thing and if I could I really would like to take a picture of it making mess.

Another reason for the bags, besides wind. We have no clue when you (DC gov) are really going to pick up the leaves. I have no clue when Pass 1 or 2 or anyother pass is, and the window for leaf pick up is two months.

So not worth over 1/2 mil- 1622 4th St NW

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For more info please see What is wrong with 1622 4th St NW.

1622 POS 4 Sale
Well 1622 4th St NW went up for sale. I looked on Redfin. $525,900.
If you do buy, save up for the eventual repairs you're going to have to do. Just because the renovation is new, doesn't mean it's a good reno. According to one neighbor who has been on the block for like for-ever, said when they bought their house they discovered some dangerous stuff behind the walls a few years later. Crap behind the wall is just the nature of the neighborhood, new construction be damned! Yeah, I experienced that same crap behind the walls thing with my house, but I just blamed crackheads. I stand by my call that you will need a home inspector with x-ray vision.
Also for $526K you should get insulation thrown in. I'm just saying'.
And they should have properly cleaned up the front yard before throwing mulch on top.
That and maybe some bars. Hey I have pondered taking off the security bars and then someone 3 blocks off gets robbed or their home is invaded, and I decide to keep them. Bar-less1622 comes with an alarm system, but I know of people who had alarm systems and still managed to get robbed.
For over half million, you should also get a freaking leather bound final report showing that all that renovation actually passed inspection. Not just the permits being approved, that's easy. No, you need proof that someone with 2 brain cells looked at and approved the plumbing, the electrical, and the structural framing before they closed it up and put up pretty tile. Hopefully you can sue the 2 braincells if they just rubber stamped it, but then you'd have to be in the mood to sue.
Let's play with some numbers. The last house to sell on that side of the 1600 blk of 4th, sold for $450K in May, it is on the smallest lot but was in decent shape and it has a walk in basement, which could be an income stream. 1622 does not have a basement. Before that was 1606 for $329K, and before that in 2010, 1630 for $440K. 1630 was done by a live in contractor and his wife, and it has that same wide addition in the back, but 1630 is of better quality and has a slightly bigger lot. My own renovation back in 2007, plus this year's basement reno and repair after the renovation, and the kitchen renovation from 9 years ago adds up to $153K. I mention this as a general measure of a good renovation. Fatukasi bought 1622 this year for $227.2K, I couldn't say that has $150K worth of competent renovation work.
I've been on this block for over a decade and seen many houses on this block undergo various renovations and flips. This is one of the worst ones I've seen. Right up there with Sonny the Nigerian whose flip had the then new residents' kitchen cabinets full of dishes falling off the wall. Luckily, that house was fixed and re-renovated by another live in construction guy.
This is a great block but whoever buys this, and I know someone will buy it, they need to be aware of the hidden dangers of the house that they WILL need to address if they plan to live in the home for any length of time.

Maybe USPS wants our packages to get stolen

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A neighbor complained/ mentioned to me that he came home and a package with nothing of great street value was sitting smack dab in the middle of his step landing for all the world to see. He was baffled at why the postal carrier didn't put it off to the side, behind a pot in a place where he (coming to the door) would see it and not some random person walking on the street. And it is not the first time and ours is not the only neighborhood that got the "HEY EVERYBODY THIS HOUSE GOT A PACKAGE!!!" experience.

What is up with that?

What is parking?

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Is it a right?

A privilege?

Though there wasn't much business at last night's BACA meeting there was some between the cookies and sandwiches. I also noticed a sizable Bloomingdale contingent. I mention the Bloomingdale, other side of Florida Avenue contingent because of a citizen comment when Sgt. Lee of MPD had the floor.

The female citizen, who lived on a SoRi (South of Rhode Island) Bloomingdale street, complained about a parking ticket she got in the wee hours. She said she gets home late and by that time there are no legal parking spots so she had to park near a stop sign, thus parking illegally. Because it was in the wee hours, it was more than likely MPD and not DPW that issued the ticket. Her justification for parking illegally and desiring exemption, was fear of crime, including sexual assault. BACA prez. Geovani Bonilla offered a long term solution of residental parking and extending the hours.

Parking is a problem of sucess and/or gentrification. When many of the houses on your block used to house people to poor to own cars, or biking singles or vacant houses, the pressure for parking on your block is low. But as vacant houses get fixed up and split into condos, section 8 turns to market rate, and the biking singles get married, stay and grow families needing cars or minivans with carseat space, there are fewer available parking spots. New restaurants in the area, just add to the pressure. As time goes on an unacknowledged amenity, lots of street parking/ or the ability to use your backyard for something else other than a car port, goes away as the neighborhood improves. When it goes away residents accustomed to having it, react.

December - Holiday Misc

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Truxton Circle brochures- Some you all (y'all) got my nice colorful Truxton Circle brochures in your doors a few weeks ago, and a lot of y'all did not. If you want a brochure on how to use the website, I'll be dropping some off at the Decemeber BACA meeting, which is tonight (7PM, Mt. Sinai Church, 3rd & Q, basement, ring the bell to get in). I should have had these ready for last month's meeting, so I could do a presentation but stuff happened. Tonight's meeting is about getting together, having a good time, and giving away prizes. If that doesn't work for you and you are really interested in neighborhood history all over the city join me at the DC Humanities Council's 6th Annual Community Heritage Project Showcase on December 6th at the All Soul's Unitarian Church (click here to RSVP). I'll have brochures and the world's slowest laptop showing off the work done for the Truxton Circle website.

Live here, drink near here- Truxton Circle was featured in Curbed's Bar Crawl Living series.

Christmas Stealings- Apparently we aren't reporting stolen packages enough. The Bloomingdale blog presents a problem with potential presents being sent to your door.. the mail carrier leaving them in plain sight. If possible tell friends and family, if they must mail packages, mail them to an alternative address (work, c/o friends, a business you have a close relationship with, etc), if you don't have a spot where they could be 'hidden' from plain sight, or can't fit in your mailbox. But then again, it doesn't help if the carrier or delivery guy puts it where everyone can see it.

Costco advice- If you are not sure if a Costco membership is worth it for you, find a friend/relative in the area who does have a membership and ask to tag along. Bring cash. Before becoming a member, I tagged along with my Aunt and friends (before the 3rd kid arrived and they couldn't fit me in the minivan) who were members. In the old days I stocked up on meat, fish, trash bags, frozen shrimp, soups, and crab meat. I had a freezer and I used it. I got my TV via a relative's membership, back when 20 something inch flat screen HD TVs were pricey, now it's less than $200. I need to ask, is there another way to get to the DC Costco without getting on New York Avenue NE?

Even in the little things they failed. There was nothing above the door for days.
Not even sheet of plastic to protect from rain or birds.

Ran into a neighbor who said there were two different couples inside 1622 4th Street NW looking like perspective buyers today. This very pretty deathtrap isn't even listed yet as far as I can tell three perspective buyers have looked at it. Where are they coming from? Are people driving around looking for construction?
I've updated the page "What's wrong with 1622 4th St NW". When I described the framing that I witnessed to an architect at a holiday party I attended he was shocked someone would do that and agreed that kind of framing job I described was dangerous.
Anyway I direct the rest of this posting to the would be buyers of 1622 4th St NW, in Washington, DC:
It looks pretty doesn't it? The glass backsplash and the new kitchen appliances are impressive. And you have to say the large house numbers, the dark mulch and the fence have much in the way of curb appeal. You've might also gotten the feel that it's on a pretty good block, not a lot of trash and people rake the leaves.
It looks perfect and so you'll never have a reason to question the integrity of the building. It's new so it has to be good right? Nope.
It was bought by a Mr. Fatukasi in May of this year from a long time resident who never really took care of the place, particularly the exterior.  In late April apparently there was a postcard permit (PC58019986) to do interior demo. You can look at PIVS to check the permits issued, and I strongly advise you to check the permits, what was filed, and when the work was approved. Just because a permit is issued does not mean the work was done right. Double check those approvals.
I also strongly advise you to look into the Stop Work Orders. They were issued for a reason. They are the red flags I want to point out to you. The first was issued on July 13, 2012 (CIC1201939), and a second on September 4, 2012 (CIC1202379). There hasn't been an inspection of the work of the house by the city since the last stop work order. Supposedly a commercial 3rd party (Bello Bello Associates) has inspected the property, but their name is only on the pre-Stop Work Order permits I could find. As far as we can tell whatever 3rd party Mr. Fatukasi has, they don't have to submit the approved structural, fire, electrical or plumbing inspections, the inspections that you dear buyer are depending on to keep you safe, until the final review. Now if you go an buy this house prior to all that, prior to the final review, then you've screwed yourself.
Also dear buyer, if you ignore my warnings and are convinced that the contractors fixed the problems I and other neighbors witnessed, please get a superstar inspector. Hell, find one with x-ray vision.
Ours is a pretty neat block. When there is a good house available, I'll let you know. When there is a bad house, guess what? I'm letting you know.