1957 Church Survey- Vermont Avenue Baptist

I should sneak a Shaw church in this run of random churches. Vermont Avenue Baptist is at 1630 Vermont Avenue NW.

In 1957 Vt Av was a HUGE church claiming 3,600 members. They had 3 Sunday services with over two thousand congregants showing up on any given Sunday. It was a predominately white collar Black church with 41% living in the urban renewal area. About half the membership lived in the rest of DC. So about 1000 people coming in on Sunday, where did they park?

CS 20 Vermont Ave Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

1957 Church Survey- Florida Avenue Baptist Church- Random Church not in Shaw

Not in Shaw but it is in LeDroit Park just in front of Shaw. Close.

Florida Avenue Baptist Church sits at 623 Florida Avenue NW. The 1957 Church Survey provides no useful information. See for yourself.

CS 48 Florida Avenue Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

1957 Church Survey: Southern Baptist Church- Random Church Not in Shaw

When you think Southern Baptist, what comes to mind? A Black church? Probably not, but that’s just what we have here. Southern Baptist Church at 134 L St NW. If memory serves me right, I believe there’s a bus in their parking lot that says “We Love Black People.” The church sits in NoMa so, not in Shaw.

Anyway there isn’t a lot of information in the 1957 survey, except they are a black church, they had a huge membership (1,300 souls), and the church was newish then.

CS 15 Southern Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

1957 Church Survey: Metropolitan AME- Random Church Not In Shaw

I’m not even going to search for a photo. But do a quick and dirty post for Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church at 1518 M St NW.  In 1957 it was a big church, with 1200 members in 1957, with about 400 showing up on any given Sunday. The professional majority were skilled laborers, followed by Professionals and white-collar members. It was and is, as far as I can tell, still a Black church. It does not give a breakdown but claimed many members lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal area under study at the time.

CS 53 Metropolitan AME by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Church Survey 1957: St. Mary Mother of God – Random Church Not in Shaw

Okay, another random church not in Shaw but still around. St. Mary is in Fake Chinatown/ Gallery Place at 727 5th St NW. As far as data goes, this is almost useless. They can say 10% of the congregation was Black in 1957. I’d like to know if any of the congregation is Chinese. Because it would be nice to know how less fake Chinatown was in the 50s.

Anyway, here’s the survey.

CS-55-St Mary Mother of God… by on Scribd

Church Survey 1957: Turner Memorial AME- Random Church Not in Shaw

Turner Memorial AME is not in Shaw. It was at 600 Eye Street NW in 1957. It is currently in PG County Maryland. As you may know the synagogue at 6th and I is there, and according to their history page, Turner AME was at 5th and P St (a Shaw church?) and bought the synagogue in 1951. In 2002 Turner AME put the church building up for sale.

Quick look at the survey page, it was a large Black church where half of the members were unskilled laborers. So a working class African-American church. The survey says it was at 5th and D, but the Turner Memorial website says it was founded in 1919 at 5th and P, so let’s go with that.

CS 54 Turner Memorial AME by on Scribd

Church Survey 1957:Church of the Holy City- Random Church Not in Shaw

I have a few of these, churches outside of Shaw but part of the larger Northwest Urban Renewal Project Area. Notable notes are that Church of the Holy City at 1611 16th St NW was a white church in 1957 and kinda small. The congregants who showed up on an average Sunday was 60. Being white, not a lot of members lived in the survey area (the Northwest Urban Renewal Area), half lived in other parts of DC and the other half lived out in the burbs.

CS-57-Church of the Holy City by on Scribd

 

 

The Curse of 1640 4th St NW

1640 4th St NWWhelp, it looks like 1640 4th Street NW has thwarted another owner. The last owner, apparently had contractor problems, as in ran away with money problem. The owner before that, tried her hands at renovating the place and for some reason failed. The owner before that, well, she’s the reason I believe 1640 is cursed.

The 3rd owner back and the neighbor next to 1640 had a toxic relationship. The neighbor claimed the 3rd owner called her the N-word, but even before that, they hated each other. I doubt they ever liked each other. So the neighbor was very antagonistic towards the 3rd owner back…. and the woman who bought it from the 3rd owner…. and the current owner. So whoever buys 1640, know the neighbor will hate your guts and do everything in her power to make things difficult.

The plans the current owner has doesn’t help. In the row of 2 story homes, the plans show a pop up that does not match any of the housing on the row. Now I can already hear Scott Roberts saying, “if you don’t want a pop up you should’ve fought for a historic district.” Yeah, no. I have no problem with the idea of a pop-up, I just have a problem with fugly pop-ups. Non-fugly pop-ups are possible.

This property is a shell. The current owner had the back ripped off (so it’s exposed to the elements) and the owner before that had done some demo. $735K seems to be a lot for a shell in my opinion, however, it isn’t the only shell in Truxton Circle in the $700K range, so what do I know?

So whoever buys 1640, not only do they have to deal with a cantankerous neighbor, they also have a partial shell. This would be for an experienced developer, someone who has developed property in the District. However, at the current price, anyone with more sense than money won’t touch it.

1957 Church Survey- Springfield Baptist Church

So I’m bopping to Rick Springfield’s Jessie’s Girl in my head as I type this. The Springfield Baptist Church has nothing to do with the 80s crooner.

Church at P and 6th NWSpringfield Baptist at the corner of P and 6th Street NW, was a steeple church of unknown vintage in 1957, according to its survey entry. I’m not exactly sure what would qualify as a mega-church circa 1957, but Springfield had a large congregation of around 1700 members, 900 of whom showed up on the average Sunday.

So let’s get into the demographic nitty gritty. It is and was a predominately African American church. The occupation spectrum seemed fairly even, a small percentage of professionals, a nice chunk of white-collar workers, some skilled manual and some entrepreneurs.  The largest group were unskilled laborers at 45%, not half but a large percentage.

You might be wondering, was this a commuter church? Yes, no, maybe. Twenty percent lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which was later shrunk to the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. There is a mention that about 15% of the membership moved out of the renewal area in the last two years. Seventy percent lived in other parts of the District, in NE and far parts of NW. The far part may have been closer to their former education center at Kansas Avenue and 8th St NW in Petworth. The E.L. Haynes Charter School sits around there now.

CS 14 Springfield Baptist by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Education Agnostic

First I fully support the Save Shaw Middle School effort. Regardless of what happens, the effort is needed. Because of efforts by parents and others to save the Shaw campus for Shaw families, I’ve learned what my in-boundary options look like. Seaton, our in-boundary school, currently feeds into Cardozo Education Campus for middle and high school.

But……….

When it comes to DC public schools (DCPS), I’m agnostic. I’m a product of several segregated and later sorta desegregated secondary schools, then post-secondary schools with the first name of University of [State]. I have worked with a variety of people who are products of public and or private schools, and known parents who have sent their children to a mix of schools or homeschooled for a variety of reasons. In DC I have witnessed how the option of charter schools kept families from jumping ship as soon as previous families had left.

100_0681.JPGI’m agnostic about DCPS, because I remember what things were like in the mid-nineties and early 00s.  DC schools used to suck. Parents were voting with their feet and the Cook school closed because of low enrollment. A lot of DCPS schools closed due to low enrollment. Then there was the explosion of DC charters, and many of them took over neighborhood school buildings that were doomed to close or had been abandoned. There is a complicated history of the Armstrong School, but it was empty, then a charter fixed it up (but that charter failed) and we didn’t have a crappy abandoned building sitting next to the building that looked like a prison (Dunbar). The Cook/Cooke school also in that part of the TC, was saved from the horrid fate of Langston, which has been abandoned and is falling apart, by a charter. So not even touching the education part, charters have been great in saving Truxton and parts of Shaw from the threat empty school buildings.

But getting back to education, I don’t desire to speak ill of neighborhood schools, but I cannot ignore what previous parents have done. In observing the choices former and current neighbors have made,  they don’t want what DCPS is offering. If they are true believers in public schools, they move. Either they move west of the Park (WOTP) or out to the ‘burbs where the elementary to middle school options are more palatable.

Right now Destructo-toddler’s education needs are unknown. But I am concerned about him as a bi-racial kid. If he sees himself as black as opposed to bi-racial, there are certain pitfalls that knee-cap the success trajectory of black boys where public schools unwittingly play a part that worry me. So unless the school environment he needs exists a few years before he’s supposed to attend that school, it is not an option.

I’m not a true believer in public education. I’m agnostic. When it comes to Shaw Middle, I admire those fighting. Neighborhood-wise, it is necessary to make it a neighborhood asset. But it does not exist as a functional school yet, and I can’t judge its value. Seaton is okay. Playing with (OMG we had so much fun with this spreadsheet!) SY2017-18 Public School Enrollments per DCPS Boundary Excel file, we could see that a lot of parents choose out of boundary schools and charters. You have to go west to find the true believers, but even they eventually lose the faith.