So back in 1957 Mt. Sinai was a “storefront” church, so its listing was in the rear of the survey. Now it isn’t a storefront, especially when one thinks of a commercial property. Now it, or the newest part, looks obviously like a church. A church that believes in stairs. I have no idea when the older section was built, which also has a classic church look. Maybe the survey was mistaken.
So Mt. Sinai Baptist at 1615 3rd Street NW was a commuter church. It still is a commuter church. Almost all of the congregants, 96% to be exact, lived outside of the Northwest Urban Renewal Area. Despite being a commuter church, it has been an asset to the Truxton Circle community. It is the location where the Bates Area Civic Association meets as well as the location of other community meetings. The church has been very open to working with community members.
The congregation’s workforce make-up was a mix, 40% white collar and 55% unskilled manual.
I should write more, but I’m getting sleepy, so I’m going to bed.
Most days brick sidewalks around here are trip hazards.
In Winter they are a pain to shovel.
In Spring, like today, they present a minefield of puddles to be avoided in the rain. By the time I made it home, my socks were wet. I tried to walk around or jump over the mini-lakes between the 7-11 on Rhode Island and BKK on New Jersey Avenue, but it was no use as the wet crept up and got me. I should have just walked in the bike lanes.
I am thankful that the neighbors of today are not clamoring for brick sidewalks like they did in the aughts. “They look more historic,” I remember being told by one long time resident who liked the look of brick sidewalks. If I’ve remembered exactly who this neighbor was, she didn’t shovel her walk, so she was not experienced with one of the challenges of brick sidewalks. Besides these were the days when no one really took the rules about shoveling snow off the sidewalks seriously.
Thankfully, there are plenty of messed up sidewalks around Shaw to disabuse people of romantic notions of brick sidewalks. After a while a new brick sidewalk’s edges get looser and then all the bricks loosen. The ground shifts and then the walk is uneven with dips and bumps. On the plus side, they become deadly for e-scooter riders.
Yesterday during my commute home an old guy was panhandling on the train. He asked for change, I said I didn’t have any. I had my headphones in and was listening to a podcast, so I didn’t clearly hear whatever it was he first mumbled. But as people began filing out he said quite clearly, “I’m gonna spit in your face.” Thankfully, he didn’t and he got off the train at Gallery Place. Today it was a gang of teenagers on a crowded train during rush hour. I’ll say about 10 or so African American teens got on at Gallery Place loudly packing into one end of the train. One of them decided to throw ice, someone complained, and then they decided to push through to the other end of the train. They insulted an African American senior citizen as they pushed through. Once on the other end, they caused some commotion that at few in their party decided to film. The commotion was enough to get a few commuters, including myself, to flee the train when it pulled into Mt. Vernon Square. I reported the incident to @WMATA and MyMTPD and got back the same sort of answer I normally get when I report things.
Well, maybe I should walk or get back to biking to work instead? But the problem hasn’t been my commute in. My commute in is more positive/neutral than negative. My commute back is mostly okay but then I have 15 minutes of unpleasantness that pops up from time to time. In the afternoon I’m more likely to encounter rowdy school-kids, drunks, panhandlers, crazy people, trash, and bad smells. My work pays for my commute but sometimes free doesn’t seem worth it.
Afternoons like this make me reconsider getting a bike and cutting back on metro. I know ridership is down for various reasons, reasons being people have other options to using public transit. There are days when I could telework, but I’m not as productive at home. I could also try doing 10 hour flex-time days to limit how many times I have to come in. I’m too cheap to use Uber-pool on a regular basis. I’m still a fair weather biker, and becoming more hard-core would help me lose weight.
Anyway, there are people who are undermining public transit by adding misery to it. If the people who add to WMATA’s bottom line stop using the system, and decide to stay home, carpool, Uber, bike, walk, or drive their own personal vehicle, it’s going to take longer to get back to good.
Let’s take a break from the church histories and look towards the future and present. When I last pondered people voting with their feet it was in regards to DC parents.
I hope the politicians and the city government, in general, does not take its citizens for granted. It’s hard to put my finger on one thing, but I can’t shake this feeling that the city is taking its tax base for granted, like we don’t have the option of moving a couple of miles across the border to Maryland or Virginia. Yes, there are citizens who are stuck, I’m not talking about them. I speak of the professionals, the comfortably retired, the people with options.
When my spouse and I moved to the DC area in the mid 90s*, DC was just freaking depressing. The Downtown was dead after 5pm. It was kind of dead on the weekends too. These were also the days of the Control Board. The city was dealing with a crazy murder rate craptastic schools, the crack epidemic, and a lousy bond rating. These were the bad old days of bad city services when no one would bother answering the phone. The bad old days can return if we aren’t careful and that’s my concern. Maybe housing advocates will get their wish and DC will become affordable because of a slow exodus of the middle class.
Right now, compared to the 90s, DC is awesome. Let’s not take the awesome for granted because it can be less awesome in the future. There are some things DC has that the surrounding counties don’t. But there isn’t that much, except their own stubborn citizenry, that can keep those counties from doing some of the same great things DC government is doing and luring our neighbors away.
Okay, let’s do a Shaw Church for this series of churches in the 1957 Church Survey. A survey that has never been done since, because a later “survey” done in the 1970s or 80s was very uninformative compared to this one. My last church was Metropolitan AME, and before that Eckington Presbyterian, so I figured I bring the posts back to the part of the Northwest Urban Renewal Area that later became Shaw.
Mt. Gilead still stands at 1625 13th St NW. According to their history website, their church building was bought at auction from Trinity Baptist Church in 1932. The church (people) itself was a mission group of about 75 people who started this church. As far as I can tell from their site, it is still an African American church.
Okay, not in Shaw, and I was thinking of another Metropolitan church, probably Baptist that used to be on R Street. Well since it’s in the 1957 Church Survey, may as well get this posting over with. I’m using the DC government’s PropertyQuest site to located existing churches and the 2004 photographs I don’t want to take.
Okay so Metropolitan AME is in the Downtown area is sandwiched, as you can see from the photo, between two office buildings. In 1957 the lot value was $74,448, now it’s $17,137,180.
Metropolitan in 1957 was a fairly large African American church with about 1200 members, of which only 450 showed up on any given Sunday. A huge chunk of the membership were professionals, white collar workers, and skilled labor. In the survey, they didn’t give any numbers for the geographic disbursement of their membership, but said a number lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area.
Yeah, this one isn’t in Shaw but it is Truxton Circle adjacent.
Eckington Presbyterian was an all white church that disbanded in the mid 1960s rather than integrate. It’s listed address of North Capitol and Florida Avenues don’t really help with figuring out where exactly the church sat. Thankfully the survey says it sat on Square 3516 on lots 116, 117 & 800. Unfortunately, those lots seem to no longer exist, so I’m going to say it is where the NY Pizza place stands. That’s my best guess.
In the survey it does not mention the racial make up but from other sources, it was a white church. It was also mainly white collar families who lived elsewhere in DC. Only 4% of the 290 members lived in the urban renewal area.
So I’m going to go into the well that is the October 1957 Northwest Urban Renewal Area Church Survey to look at churches that may or may not still exist in Shaw.
Lincoln Memorial Congregational is one of those churches that fit into the may and may not exist limbo because the church is no longer functioning and held its last service in 2018. In the September 30, 2018 Washington Post article regarding the church’s shuttering, about a dozen parishioners would show up on any given Sunday. The stated reason for the reduced numbers was the demographic changes in the neighborhood and problems with parking. When you look at what was going on with the church in 1957, neighborhood demographics didn’t matter as much as the parking.
The Northwest Urban Renewal Area was bigger than the boundaries of Shaw, and encompassed most of Shaw, and only a quarter of the 725 members lived in the urban renewal area. According to the 1957 survey, a majority lived in other parts of DC. A notation says those congregants outside of the urban renewal area lived in upper Northwest, Kenilworth and Brookland. Half of the working parishioners were white collar workers, I’ll guess members of the Black middle class who probably had cars and drove/ car-pooled to church. Those other parts of DC are too far to walk to church in one’s Sunday best.