Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Emma Ashton

Note- This was sitting in my draft folder. I don’t know why. It’s probably lacking some information, but I don’t know what.

Mrs. Ashton lived at 1405 1st St NW in Truxton Circle. She was not the only person to live at that address in 1920. I count about 14 people living there. It’s a modest house, so I’m not sure how one could crowd 5 households of that many people in that house.

Mrs. Emma Ashton, an African American widow of Ludwell Ashton had lived at 1405 1st St NW since 1900. In the 1900 Census she’s at 1405, living with her 75 year old widowed mother Adeline Brooks, who was the owner, her husband and their sons, Kellogg B. and Leonard A. Ashton. In 1920 the roles had changed, Emma was the head and the owner and her then 93 year old mother wasn’t.

Emma Ashton does not appear long in the Recorder of Deed’s records. There are several financial records for 1922, which aren’t particularly clear to me. She could have extended some loans, but I’m not sure. This period lasted between 1922 and 1924. It appears that she lost lot 11 (on Square 616) in 1934 and lot 816 in 1929.

Looking for an Emma Ashton for all of DC uncovered other property she owned in Truxton Circle, 302 Florida Ave NW (0519-0072) and 14?? 1st St NW (0553-0122). It appears she sold the property on 1st St in 1922 to Gertrude E. Holmes.

319 R St NW- Back On the Market $1.6 Million

So….. nevermind. There is an open house 3/14 from 1-3PM. Redemption may be at hand.

Below is the old post.

At the corner of 4th and R is 319 R St NW and it is a large landmark of a house. I noticed the “For Sale” sign was gone. So it looks like it did not sell. Which is sad because I had hoped someone could redeem the mess that had happened. But maybe $1.6 million was too much to ask in addition to redemption.

So for those of you just joining us and unfamiliar with the saga that was 319 R St NW, here’s a very quick story. When I arrived to Shaw 20 years ago, 319 was mission house for a Virginia Korean church where they fed homeless people and let them hang out. But after many years and the neighborhood got gentrified they sold the house to a developer. That developer wanted to throw on a 3rd story and lop off the corner turret. After some push back, they agreed to throw a dunce hat of a turret on. The house, and almost all the other houses on the block, was an actual Harry Wardman house. The developers’ desire to go the ugly route triggered a nuclear option of making the whole block a historic landmark. Which totally sucked for everyone else on the block. The developers sold the mess they made and someone else finished the renovations and dug out the basement. Then the house went on the market. And it sat on the market. Now it’s off the market.

Links to my previous posts about 319 R St NW:
I provided the gun but I didn’t shoot him: Historic Landmarking of Sq. 519
319 R St NW- There can be a way forward with a turret
319 R St NW- The Turret is Plan B
319 R St NW- Not hoping for the best, but the less ugly with a turret
319 R Street NW- a sign
319 R St NW
319 R Street the plan
Well we need more of this kind of missionary work

Figuring out the Recorder of Deeds Docs

I have admitted several times that I have trouble interpreting the property land records that I get from the Recorder of Deed’s database. It dawned on me to look at my own property records to get a sense of what is what.

For reasons, I’m going to change up some names but I will keep the dates. In 2001 I bought my house with a mortgage. In 2003 I took out a HELOC, or 2nd mortgage with Bank B. That was recorded in 2004. In 2006 the Bank B HELOC was paid off and it looks like I took on another HELOC for 100K for the major renovation with Bank A. In 2009, I refinanced, replacing Countrywide with Bank A and absorbing the HELOC I had with them into the new 30 year mortgage. When 2014 rolled around, we (now married to The Help) refinanced to a 7 yr ARM with some cash to pay for the 4th renovation. What I don’t see is the HELOC I took out that year in my name. Which might explain why the title company couldn’t find it either when we sold the house. Continue reading Figuring out the Recorder of Deeds Docs

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- – The Levitovs

So last time we looked at the Bundys, the African Americans who owned parts of Sq. 551 in Truxton Circle. So now I turn to the Levitovs, whose name appears on the image I was looking at several times.

Image not found
Source: Library of Congress- https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3851bm.gct00135a/?sp=41

Max & Rose Levitov appear twice (551-0846, 551-0855). Max Levitov (551-0854)appears once by himself.

The thing about Square 551, which is bounded by 1st, Q, 3rd, R and Florida Ave is that the houses that were once there, no longer exist. It is now Florida Avenue Park, the Northwest Co-op (not public housing), and the Mt. Sinai Baptist Church. The other thing about S. 551 is that it was a commercial block. There was a dairy over on 1st Street and the block had warehouses and whatnot. So keep that in mind as we look at the Levitovs.

Having had worked at the US Holocaust Museum and having Jewish friends, the names Max & Rose Levitov just jump out at me as being Jewish. And the 1930 Census came through. Max was a Russian whom immigrated to America in 1909 and spoke Hebrew. Continue reading Property Owners of Truxton Circle- – The Levitovs

Property owners of Truxton Circle– The Bundys

Just out of curiosity I’m going to revisit an image I used regarding an African American female homeowner. But she created a mental roadblock and I lost my rhythm.

Landowner list of Sq 551

This image is part of the 1933-34 property tax assessment page for part of Sq. 551, which is between R, 3rd, Q, 1st and Florida. Continue reading Property owners of Truxton Circle– The Bundys

Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle- The Garretts of 1408 3rd St NW

I’m gong to try a different angle since I am still discombobulated about someone who lied to the Census. This time I just decided to look at my big old Truxton Circle 1880-1940 database and pick one. Since the online records for the Recorder of Deeds starts in 1921, I figured starting with the 1920 Census was safe.

I picked John W. Garrett of 1408 3rd Street NW (SSL:W0553-0810) who was listed as a mulatto (African American)  Engineer and head of household. In 1920, Mr. Garrett was a 70 year old West Virginia native living with his 2 daughters Beatrice E. Garrett and Armetia M. Johnson and 7 year old granddaughter Marjorie Johnson. By the 1930 Census Mr. Garrett had died, Armeta/Armetia was listed as the head and her 1920 sister was now her partner? (head tilt) Both Beatrice and Armeta were dressmakers, probably self employed dressmakers. They could have been in business with each other. In 1940 the inhabitants of 1408 3rd are listed as renters, including Beatrice Jarrott, which sounds awfully like Beatrice Garrett. They could be the same person, but the ages don’t line up. She could have lied about her age, adding on 10 years in the 1940 census.

The Recorder of Deeds has Beatrice Garrett showing up in May 1951. I am not 100% sure how to read deeds and other property documents, so it appears to me that she and Marjorie Ellen Rand sold the property to Violet M. Barbour. Could Marjorie Rand be the same Garrett granddaughter listed in the 1920 census?

Renovation #2- Unsexy and unseen

So the things you get to brag about when you have a big renovation are things you can point to and see. I did that. The cool things you can see are the exposed brick wall, the clawfoot tub, the updated bathrooms, and the improved layout. What you couldn’t see or wouldn’t notice were the more appropriate sized radiators, insulation, updated wiring and plumbing, and central air.

Prior to the 2007 renovation the radiators in some areas were above or right at the bottom of the window. This was noticeable when putting in the window AC units. The iron pipes that feed the 2nd floor radiators were behind unsightly (and dangerous) false walls on the first floor. The iron was replaced with copper and those pipes were neatly tucked behind the wall. Some of the old radiators were reused, and others were replaced with more appropriate sized radiators. All that cost money, but it was a small change that I felt made a world of difference.

Insulation is another thing you don’t see but made a world of difference. There was no insulation in the wall when they were opened up during the demolition. I got insulation in the exterior walls. I asked for insulation along the party wall that wasn’t exposed. And I even put some insulation between the 1st and 2nd floors. Later this and the improvements with the radiators helped keep the house toasty warm, especially the master bedroom.

The Spacepak system I put in actually came in 2008. As I mentioned in the previous post, I ran out of money. So the AC was tabled until the next year when I saved up enough for it. The vents had already been installed, I just needed the mechanical parts. I chose this system because I didn’t like the boxy look that came with most AC systems.

There were some other updates and things not in the house. The Ethernet wired system was messed up with renovation #3. I’m not sure what happened but something in the basement was cut or damaged. Wi-fi kind of made the system unnecessary. The 1st floor bathroom is larger than need be because I was going to put a shower in it. That never happened. There are pipes to feed water to a shower in the wall, but not a drain. We wound up just using the space as a pantry area. The new layout made the rear bedroom cramped. That was corrected in renovation #4. But in changing the layout it lost a closet. A closet was planned for renovation #4 but I wanted flexibility and figured a wardrobe would work just as well, so it never got its closet back.

Renovation #1- Kitchen

I’m taking a look back at the renovations 1618 4th St NW has had over the years since it is up for sale and on the market. I bought the house in 2001 and the kitchen was not working for me. It had a foot of counter space and the corner was taken up by one of those little stacked washer dryer units.Kitchen01Yes, 1 foot. You see that little bit of space near the sink? That was all the counter space I had. I couldn’t put a little table between it and the stove if I ever wanted to open the under counter drawer and cabinet.

Through swing dance friends I met my contractor, David. David was the GC for all the renovations going forward. I had talked to his references and they all liked him, he was communicative but artistic. Artistic is a problem when you want to keep costs down.

I documented my renovation with several LiveJournal blog posts, which I can’t find. But I still have the Flickr pictures. And I could find only one InShaw blog post mentioning the kitchen renovation.

It seems almost pointless to really mention the kitchen renovation because so much was undone by a later renovation. Renovation #4 for some reason killed the heated floor. Man I loved that floor. Reno #4 also changed the layout, the entry, the insulation and the ceiling height. The microwave had to be replaced in Renovation #2. The stove got replaced when David said he was taking one out of another kitchen renovation. The Bosch dishwasher was a renovation #3 or #4 thing. New ceiling lights were also from reno #4. The cabinets, the Corian countertops (more forgiving than granite) and sink and the most of the tiles on the floor remain.

An old bill says this kitchen redo in 2003 cost a little under $8000. I vaguely remember taking out a second loan to cover the cost, and something tells me it was more than $8K, as I had bought the tile and the lights and a few other things. It may have been around $14K with everything involved with add ons and what not.

When I finished my bright shiny I turned around and looked at the rest of my house. And that had me planning for the big renovation #2.

 

 

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.