55 P St NW- bad rental in 1923

photo of property

I’ve been reaching into the pile and today I have a letter from 1923 regarding poor living conditions at 55 P St NW in the TC. The initial letter was from Walter W. Brown who wrote to the Rent Commission. The Rent Commission responded to him about paying rent but did not address the living conditions.

Feb 19 1923 Letter RE 55 P St NW by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

The Brown family appears in the 1920 census. We find Mr. Walter W. Brown, a 49 year old African American driver, living with his wife Lizzie, and their minor sons and daughter, adult daughters and one son-in-law. They are renters.

In the letter Brown writes that he lives a 55 Pea St NW. People did cute things like that, calling Q St, Que St, I St, Eye St, and the like. I hadn’t seen anyone call P St Pea St before. Anyway, at 55 P St, the plaster was falling down in various parts of the house, there was no septic and the stove was broken.

Mr. Brown mentions a Mr. Schwartz at 724 15th St NW. I checked the 1923 city directory and the inhabitants of that address was Schwartzell Rheem & Hensey Co. a real estate company. Were the realtors or property managers letting the house go to pot so they could get rid of the renters, rehab it and rent it at a higher price? I don’t know.

According to the Tax Assessment office, what is currently at 55 P St NW, was built in 1924. I could only find one permit for that lot pre- 1958. The earliest record I can find for Sq 615 lot 163 is from 1944. That was when Fred D. Geisler purchased the property. So it could be a completely different house.

I checked the Library of Congress to see if the lot number changed. The 1919 map shows lot 163. where lot 163 should be, with a brick house on it.

So that’s that.

 

 

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