Paint it Black

I like having an orange (okay more creamsicle) house. In instructions to delivery people, because Google and other map things are screwing it up, is that if you aren’t delivering to an orange house, you have the wrong house. It isn’t like there are a lot of orange houses. But we’re getting the house ready for sale, so the orange has to go.

But something happened. As you can see from the upper (or featured) image it got painted black. This is not a color known to make houses sell like hotcakes, unless the market is full of Goths.

There was some miscommunication.

I’m sure this will get corrected and house painters have to give a wall a few coats of paint. So this one coat should be fine. I hope.

A black house is kind of cool, but not temperature wise. Black absorbs heat and as edgy and cool as I might think this would be (and a fun shock to the Realtor) the air conditioner wouldn’t appreciate it. I’ve seen other black houses in Truxton Circle, okay one. I wonder if those houses were painted black due to some miscommunication.

The Spacepak System- After a long hiatus

View-of-ceiling-with-ventSo back in 2007 I got a Spacepak system for my house when I had it renovated down to the bricks and beams. And sometime around 2016? it died. Blah-blah something about leaking coolant, which was expensive (the kind we needed) and the whole thing, we were told, needed to be replaced. I did not understand what that meant. What I did understand was the $12K estimate. That’s too dang much. To be fair, $3,000 of that was for a permit and rental of a crane to put part of the unit on the roof.

So we decided that for that price, it would be cheaper to buy portable a/c units and that was okay. But bringing up units up and down every year is a PITA. That and we knew we’d be departing and wanted to get the house ready for sale or rent, so this winter we got a new Spacepak. This meant a new outside unit on the roof, which the workmen managed to get up there with ropes and ladders, and another interior unit that was squeezed into our crawlspace. The tubes and what not remained.

So lately the weather warmed up enough to justify turning it on. This week was warm enough to test it. Normally, it’s kept at 80F in the day (normally, we are not home) and around 77F in the evening. Not much of a stretch. So when it was sitting at 77F I decided to try to get it down to 72F. I should note that our house’s walls are well insulated. The back has the foam insulation and the front has the pink stuff. It took a while but the thermostat did make it to 72F.

A noticeable difference from the system of the past and now is that it is quieter and the air doesn’t flow as hard. The crawlspace unit is right above our bed, so I noticed that difference when it turns on. The air flow is not as hard because when I overheat, standing under a vent isn’t as satisfying as it once was. Meh.

The replacement cost $9K, when rounding up. This was just for air conditioning. We have a radiator heating system that I luuuuv, bathrobes that have been sitting on a hot radiator is a special luxury you have to experience.  Part of me likes having two separate systems so when one goes kaput the other is fine.

Straw Meet Camel or Buy this house

messylivingroomThis is one of my favorite views of my home. From the stairs, looking down at the bookcase and the floor. This house, what I’ve called a crumbly pile of bricks, has been a joy. But I’ve been pondering a move out of the city for various reasons. The main one was for career reasons that I won’t get into here. Second, I’d like my husband to have an awesome car-less commute. Third, is the kid and that relates to a piece of straw.

A couple of days ago NBC Channel 4 reported on some leaked information about plans for DC schools, including PreK-K. That ticked me off, so much so, I’ve been in contact with Realtors. Maybe it was the thing I needed to finally stop delaying and start moving on. I’d been so looking forward to Pre-K3, getting ready for it. But it looks like Pre-K 2020-21 is gonna be a bust, with alternative schedules and partial in person instruction. I won’t be able to depend on the schools for adequate childcare coverage. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

I had thought of offering to sell (by owner) as-is so I can sell it for a lower, more affordable price so a new owner could build some of their own equity. Because staging, hiring painters, landscapers, all that winds up getting paid by the buyer in the form of a higher price. I was toying with that idea for November of this year. But now, probably not, but I’m willing to be persuaded.

If you’ve read this blog, or managed to follow it since the early days, you know I’ve left the house better than when I bought it. I’ve renovated it (with a contractor) several times, going down to the brick and beams. The basement/celler got finished and has 3 french drains. A couple years back I put on an addition in the rear. Last year, got a new fence and now we could theoretically park in the rear. I’ve been constantly improving it and making it my own. But now, it’s time to let go and let someone else make of it what they will.

Shaw School Review: Friendship PCS- Armstrong Elementary

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Friendship PCS- Armstrong Elementary
1400 1st St. NW or 111 O St NW

Type of school: Public Charter
Grades: PK3-5 (Note: Middle School for 2020 grades 4-8)
Before & After School care: Yes. Contact school. Prob. $70 a week for before and after care.
Enrollment: 417 (2019-20)
PreK3: 55; PreK4: 72; K: 63; 1st: 40; 2nd: 65; 3rd: 38; 4th: 37; 5th: 47
PCS LEA 1 Programmatic Capacity: 900; Unfilled seats 499 (2018-19)
Cost Per Pupil- No figures found. Apparently those numbers will be available later in 2020 or 2021.

Attracts Students From These DCPS schools (2017-18), 10 students or more

Name of School # of Students
Thomas Elementary School 17
Truesdell Education Campus 10
Walker-Jones Education Campus 88
Browne Education Campus 23
Langley Elementary School 15
Seaton Elementary School 36
Cleveland Elementary School 13

Physical activity: Grades K-5: 65.00 Minutes/week

PARCC Scores 2018-19, % meeting & exceeding expectations
Black White Hispanic Pac. Is/Native Am.
ELA 2018-19 9.2% n<10 n<10 n<10
Math 2018-19 22.9% n<10 n<10 n<10
Males ELA 7.3% n<10 n<10 n<10
Males Math 18.2% n<10 n<10 n<10

Views from Dunbar High SchoolMari’s 2 cents

I chose the picture of Armstrong before it was renovated. Friendship is the second charter school to take over the building. I almost feel that I should have a photo of the Langston school to show the importance of charters on the neighborhood. However, Langston is so far long gone no charter, no matter how well funded, isn’t going to touch it, unless the neighboring Slater building comes with.

I should write about the program. As the mom of a toddler, I should point out this is one of the few (the only I found) charters that seems forgiving when it comes to potty training. KIPP and Mundo Verde demand that students be potty trained.

They will have an open house on

Sources:
https://www.myschooldc.org/schools/profile/150
https://www.dcschoolreportcard.org/schools/120-0269
Copy of EdScape_Chapter 3 Facilities_Facility Enrollment and Utilization_6
2018-19 School Year Annual Enrollment Audit Report Supplemental Tables
Detailed 2018-19, 2017-18, 2016-17 PARCC And MSAA Performance

1957 Church Survey: Asbury Methodist Church- Random church not in Shaw

E5074350-AsburyMESo the Methodists are in the news these days and I need to get back to posting parts of the October 1957 Northwest Urban Renewal Church Survey. So here we have Asbury Methodist Church, at 1100 K St NW (not in Shaw) which was and still is an African-American church.

The more I look at these surveys the more I think most are best guesstimates by the church secretary or junior pastor who got stuck with it. I think this because the population is a round 1000 congregants. But the possible guesstimate that the church was half white collar (40%) and professional (10%) I’m more confident in, as the church in its current form strikes me as a middle class church. There were a significant number of members who did not live in the survey area but 33% (ish) did, so sorta kinda a commuter church?

Below is the survey so you can see it for yourself.

CS 52 Asbury ME by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Buy This House: 1616 4th St NW

So our longtime neighbors have moved and are selling their house. Since they bought the house they moved into (for more space w/ legit parking), they need to get their old one sold, pronto! So if you’re thinking about buying a house in the TC let me tell you about 1616 4th St NW by pointing out a few things. Also, there will be an artshow/ open house on Friday 12/6 at 5:30pm , where the current owner will be showcasing some of his art work.

Greenery in the city– The owners love growing things. They had plants inside and out. In the rear are several pine trees, that was so the owner could wake up and see green. In the front they grew tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, basil, and other edibles. They also have planted a Japanese maple, right now it isn’t looking too hot, but in the spring and fall it is lovely. Their small porch they had several small potted plants. There are exterior spigots in the front and back for easy watering.

Kids on the Block– There are kids on the block including my own. A lot of the daycare and pre-school set, mainly boys. When they are seen (they aren’t out hanging about) they are with their mommies and daddies in a stroller. We are in the boundary of Seaton Elementary School (Pre-K 3- 5th grade) which scores highly on Great Schools. There are several Seaton families on 4th St.  The Google group for parents is Bloomingdale Kids.

Awesome Commute?– Yes, depending on where you are going. On the other side of the block you can catch the G2 (LeDroit to Georgetown), and the 96 (Tenleytown).  A block or two away are the 90, G8 and G9 bus stops. A 10 minute walk for me is the Shaw-Howard metro station. It is between the Q and R street bike lanes and there are two Capital Bikeshare stations within a block (or two). I haven’t had to wait more than 6-8 minutes for an Uber. If you must drive, the entrance to I-395 is a few blocks down New Jersey Avenue. So plenty of options.

Walkable neighborhood– The Walkscore is 95. We walk almost everywhere. The Giant is about a 10-15 minute walk if you don’t want to catch the G2. ANXO, is so close you could walk home drunk, but please drink responsibly. Truxton Inn is close too but that requires crossing Florida Ave, so you still need your wits about you.

Great block– The 1600 block of 4th St is the best. Our unofficial block captain Brian keeps the sidewalks clean, along with help from other neighbors. If you move here introduce yourself to the blond giant from Chicago and get on the no drama block email list. It is a quiet street, except when a firetruck is roaring down New Jersey, but eventually you kind of ignore that.

1616 4th Street NW– Built circa 1872-1875 housing black laborers, it is modern and renovated. It has a few flourishes from the previous occupants, notably the interior windows in the front bedroom that allow for light to go down into stairwell. It is listed by Keller Williams Capital.

Who can buy this– Okay, let’s just address an elephant in the room. Yes, $750K is a lot of money. But a shell, a cursed shell mind you, several doors down sold for $625K in November. Most likely buyers would be a DINK, double income, no kids (yet) with professional jobs who sold their condo. Other possible buyers could be single adults who are getting assistance from family (grandma’s will, parent’s co-buying, divorce settlement, etc). A developer could buy it since we aren’t in a historic district and try something, but FAR and a near neighbor’s solar panels might limit that. Families on public assistance aren’t potential buyers. Even with a 20% down payment a 30 year mortgage with great credit is over $3,000 a month (including taxes & insurance). That is above what the voucher program allows in this neighborhood even if it were to be rented.

If you think you are going to be around DC for a while, I would encourage you to buy a condo (although I, myself, despise condos) because maybe you can upgrade later in life when you’ve become more established in your career. You can use the sale of that condo, plus savings, and you have to have savings, to buy something like 1616 4th St NW in the future.

No such thing as a bad school in DC

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Old Dunbar High School being demolished in 2013


Are there any bad public schools in DC?

I think there are but I don’t know if I really want to bother with petty fights with people who feel the need to defend failure. No one is free to say that since a school fails to have a decent bell curve of failing and excelling students and is skewed towards failure, that maybe it could be a bad school. Nor can you point to low in-boundary participation, the mismatch of demographics between the school and the neighborhood, and empty seats and say that people/parents are saying something in their actions.

Personally, I know that acknowledging problems is the first step to recovery and towards success. Doesn’t guarantee success, but it helps to stop the self-deception.

There are some great public schools in the District of Columbia, not all of them charters.  Shepherd Elementary School in upper northwest, does an awesome job of educating black boys. Over 70% of Shepard’s African American boys, between 2016-2019, approached, met and exceeded expectations on PARCC scores in math and ELA. Sadly, this is rare.

The number of schools where black boys fail to meet or even partially meet expectations are many. So many. Both charters and DCPS. But I’m not going to name them for they have their defenders.

I get it. Education is hard. There is a mix of building issues, the kinds of families (students and parents) a school attracts, the staff who come and stay, and the leadership. These need to be in balance. But you can’t fix the problem and try to figure out what is out of wack if you won’t even identify what is a bad school.

I’ll be exploring Shaw schools, and I will name names.

Black Businesses of 1968 Shaw: Personality Studio and Gift Shop

Another item from the “pile”, this is another post 1968 riot for a Shaw business. Carl R. Webb owned Personality Studio and Gift Shop at 1618 7th Street NW, Washington, DC, in Shaw. Currently that same location is for some medical supply store.
The store experienced extensive glass damage and theft. It appears the owner Mr. Webb, an African American man, decided to remain after the riot but was planning on changing his shop into a Ben Franklin store, a kind of five and dime.

1618 7thSt NW by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Random Asian owned business in 1968 Shaw

Pulling another document from the “pile”.

This is a post 1968 riot survey filed by Shaw Foo Chin, owner of Bill’s Laundry and Dry Cleaning at 1718 14th Street NW. I have no clue who Bill is. Currently there is a Peregrine Espresso coffee shop there.

Mr. Chin seemed to be okay. Rioters smashed his sign and stole his customers’ dry cleaning. Mr. Chin reported that he conducted his own repairs.

1718 14th ST NW by Mm Inshaw on Scribd