Holy Moly My House is Older Than I Thought

Snip from HistoryQuest DC
A view from HistoryQuest DC

Due to my research on my house I was under the impression that it, and all the other ones in the row, was built around 1874-75 ish.

Wrong.

The Historical Society sent out an announcement about their facilities on Mt. Vernon Square and getting ready for the Apple store (yay, I need a new mini). The library is closing up Friday, June 7th, but there are the online resources. So I went to the Ready Reference PDF. And that took me to DC.gov’s HistoryQuest DC. So I looked at the map, tapped on my block and discovered the houses on my row were built in 1872, not 1874/1875 as I thought. I’m in the right decade at least.

So why did I think what I thought? Well I was going by tax records.  Prior to the 1874/1875 tax year there was nothing there, according to the tax assessor. Unfortunately, the oh so helpful Sanborn and other fire maps don’t even bother with the Truxton Circle area until the 1880s at the earliest. HistoryQuest DC used the Washington Evening Star newspaper report on building permits as its source. That source said the owner, Jacob Been had permits dated July 5, 1872.

Well, I guess Mr. Been could have waited 2 years to build.

Ten Days of Truxton- The Name- The Hood

Okay, I gotta book that I checked out of the library and I’ma goin’ to use it. The book is Truxtun of the Constellation by Eugene S. Furguson.
I am inspired to write for two reasons one is an article from the WP columnist John Kelly, “There is no Washington, DC– but I’m not renaming my column” and an Examiner article about the TC. In the John Kelly piece, if completely accurate supports my suspicion that people in the last few centuries weren’t sticklers when it came to place names. Federal City, Washington City, same diff. When the most accurate official and legal name isn’t high on your list of priorities sloppiness may occur. The punishment for sloppiness is that long after the responsible generation is dead later generations get to nit pick.
Seriously, someone find me PROOF, actual f*ing primary resourced proof that the Shaw neighborhood was named DIRECTLY after Robert Gould Shaw, and not the Shaw Junior High School, which was. Because prior to the 1950s I can’t find a bit of proof that the neighborhood was even called Shaw, as a neighborhood. Mid City and northwest are the only names that seem to pop up prior to the Shaw School Urban Renewal Project. I am not counting the school districting.
So, ’round the turn of the century there was the Truxton Circle (named for Thomas Truxtun) at Florida and North Capitol. I’ve heard talk that the actual circle was in Eckington. But since streets act as borders, I’m going to say it was bordering West Eckington and Old City. Eckington is a suburb of the City (of Washington).Using the journal Washington History Volume 14, No. 2 as a guide, there is Eckington(1887), Center Eckington (1891) and West Eckington(1891). These sub-divisions are on the other side of Boundary Street/ Florida Avenue and the City residents have just as much claim to the traffic circle as the Eckington and Bloomingdale(1889) ones.
So the Truxton traffic circle was a traffic hazard and it went away. But then appeared a Truxton Post Office. On Florida Avenue, NE, not helping my argument. And then sometime in the 60s or 70s it closed. Then in the 60s came the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area project of which the TC is a part of, but it appears there was no reason to call our part Truxton Circle. Then came the Ward & ANC system in the 70s where Shaw was divided, having most of Shaw in Ward 2 and the TC in Ward 5. In the late 80s when the District government was selling houses and bringing in cable, they referred to the area as Truxton Circle.
Next Ten Days of Truxton: Slavery.