Lessons Learned from Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle- Don’t leave property to a bunch of people

Okay, I have a pet peeve and I want to get it off my chest. So I have been documenting the property transactions of African American home owners from the 1920 census who lived in this Washington, DC neighborhood of Truxton Circle. Do I understand the records I’m looking at? Not 100% but I can tell there is some problem when the home owner I am tracking leaves their home to more than one person.

I have a sense of what the owner might have been thinking if they left a will. Maybe they wanted to treat all their children equally. Maybe they wanted to leave something to all the people in their lives who meant something and the only thing of great value they had was their home. That’s sweet. But the problem is all their adult children don’t want to live together in the same house they grew up in.

What I see in the land records are papers where all the heirs have to sign off to let one family member have the property. Or all the heirs, and their spouses, sell the property.

Now let me dig and find something useful from my graduate education. I learned why pre-industrial and industrial England was more prosperous than France and it was because of primogeniture. Primogeniture was when the first born (usually male heir) get the main land, properties, and business interest of the deceased. Second plus sons and daughters were lucky to get an allowance, small plots of land or what have you, but not the main prize. This meant the farm was not broken up. Whereas in France, they broke up the farms and the lands into smaller portions, which meant they were less productive.

So back to Truxton Circle. One could theoretically divide a house if it were a two unit structure. So far I have not seen that.

What I have seen with other property owners of Truxton Circle, are requests to allow wives/widows to remain in the home until their death while the named heir holds the title.

In conclusion, the inheriting parties sell the property or transfer it to one of the heirs, who later sells the property.  So one may as well direct the sale of the property and have the proceeds divvied up equally by the heirs and save everyone the headache.

Because of another TC related side project the generational wealth that TC property gives is not in the property itself. It may be more the idea of having property and being a homeowner. My parents are still alive so I’m not getting their old ramshackle house any time soon. But they provided an example of the idea of owning one’s own home.

Examples of several heirs- Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Annie Brown 69 N St NW

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Wallace J. Broadas- 1607 New Jersey Ave NW

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Malinda Powell- 71 N St NW

1957 Church Survey: Holy Redeemer Catholic Church- Close to but not in Truxton Circle/Shaw

I would pass by Holy Redeemer when riding the 96 bus. It is just across the border from the Truxton Circle/ Shaw/ Mt. Vernon Sq. on the other side of New York Ave NW.

Front of Holy Redeemer Church in Washington DCIn 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle. One of the churches was Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

According to Holy Redeemer’s own history, the church was dedicated in October 1922. It was and still is a primarily African American church.

CS 27 Holy Redeemer Catholic by Mm Inshaw

So let’s look at the survey for Holy Redeemer. The location hasn’t changed, it’s still at 206 New York Ave NW. It had three priests, a full time janitor, a full time housekeeper and a membership of 2,500 souls. A majority of the membership lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area and the rest (40%) lived in other parts of DC. Most of that 40% was living between Georgia Ave and 37th NW. Another majority in the church were white collar workers.

 

1957 Church Survey: Bible Way Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ- Church not in Shaw

I’ve been holding off on publishing this one because I figured I would do more research. But I never seemed to get around to doing that. The reason is because Bible Way, near the mouth of I-395, did a great thing. The fed and local government’s “plan” was to run that interstate up through what was my 4th St house and over on to Florida Avenue. Bible Way played a part in stopping it. I figured they deserved more research on the matter.

Bible Way Church was one of many urban churches surveyed for this DC inner city survey. Anyway, to learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

CS-34-Bible Way of Our Lord by Mm Inshaw

In 1957, Bible Way Church at 1130 New Jersey Ave NW was headed by Rev. Smallwood E. Williams.  The Washington Post wrote of Rev. Williams,  “In 1963, he used his political connections to save his church from being torn down. Interstate 395 was scheduled to go through his building. With the help of Democrat Hubert H. Humphrey, then a senator from Minnesota, Williams got the plans redrawn so that the highway would skirt the site.”

Bible Way’s own website tells me they began in Shaw in a storefront at 1409 9th St NW. Looking at the 1957 survey, it was a large church with 2,000 members, a Sunday attendance over 3,000, and several paid staff members. It was also an African American church as the body reported that 99% of members were Black. Looking at the occupational distribution, I’m going to guess this was a blue collar church, as in line with Pentecostal type churches. Most of the membership, 69%, lived outside of the boundaries (see below) of the Northwest Urban Renewal Area (part of which became Shaw) in other parts of DC.

1957-Church-Survey-Map

1957 Church Survey: Mount Carmel Baptist- Churches not in Shaw

Mt. Carmel Baptist Church was part of the 1957 Church Survey for a urban renewal area that got broken into other parts, such as Downtown and Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957. I am publishing this because I have a Black Home Owner of Truxton Circle coming up and he attended this church.

Quick rundown. It was and still is an African American church. It was a fairly large church with over 3,000 members able to support a full time minister, assistant minister, sexton, assistant sexton and social worker.

CS 6 Mt Carmel Baptist by Mm Inshaw

 

1957 Church Survey: Church of Ascension and St. Agnes

When I last visited Ascension & St. Agnes, many years ago, it was an Episcopal church offering a high church service. It is located at 1215 Massachusetts Ave NW.  It’s in Mt. Vernon Sq, but I’m going to count it as a Shaw church.

Anywho, this church was part of the 1957 Church Survey for a urban renewal area that got broken into other parts, such as Downtown and Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

It was pretty much a White church when I visited and was so in 1957. It’s parish boundaries were pretty much that of the map above, but they said they drew their membership from all over the metro area, as the greatest bulk came from Maryland and Virginia.

CS-33-Church of Ascension a… by Mm Inshaw

 

 

1957 Church Survey: Miles Memorial CME- Rando church outside of Shaw

The address, 1110 3rd St NW where this church sat doesn’t exist anymore. Miles Memorial Church CME, currently sits at 501 N St NW, in Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

The former location of this church appears to be some spot behind the Bible Way church…. a church also in the 1957 Church Survey, but I hadn’t gotten to it.

The pastor, Rev. Raymond L. Calhoun, lived at 210 N St NW, in that spot where Truxton Circle and Mt. Vernon Square are the same. I wonder if he’ll show up in my studies.

Then like now, it was a Black American church. Most of the other information was kind of vague. So I’m just going to post it.

CS 25 Miles Memorial CME by Mm Inshaw

1957 Church Survey: St. Aloysious Catholic Church- Churches not in Shaw

St. Aloysious Roman Catholic Church is outside of the bounds of Shaw, but not too far. This church was part of the 1957 Church Survey for a urban renewal area that got broken into other parts, such as Downtown and Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

photo of property

It appears that the church itself is no longer operating and the parish has merged with Holy Redeemer Catholic Church. The school, Gonzaga (Mr. Tony Lewis’ alma mater) appears to be for exclusive use for the school. Looking at the 1957 survey, it looks like times changed and tables turned, because then, the church ran the school, not the other way around.

The church ran an elementary school, a girl’s high school and a boy’s high school. We can see where the boy’s school went, I wonder what happened to the elementary school and the girl’s school. The church was a racially mixed church with 15-20% of the parishioners being Black. Half of the parish lived in the NW urban renewal area, while the next largest group lived in other parts of DC. The range of types of occupations seem evenly split.

CS 29 St Aloysious Catholic by Mm Inshaw

 

 

1957 Church Survey: Holy Trinity

Well this will be a quickie as it is a church from the 1957 Church Survey that provides no information. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

Holy Trinity sat at 1618 11th Street NW, square 309, lot 817. It’s not there anymore.

CS 38 Holy Trinity by Mm Inshaw

1957 Church Survey- Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church

This is part of a series where I look at churches that were surveyed in the 1957 Northwest Urban Renewal Area Church Survey. No other survey has been done since.

Mount Olivet Lutheran Church
Credit: Josh – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ncindc/


Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church sat at 1308 Vermont Ave NW in Logan Circle. In 1957 it was one of the two predominately African American Lutheran churches in the city. It’s current address is 1306 Vermont Ave NW.

So what was Mt. Olivet like in 1957? It had about 700 members who were mostly white collar workers. A small percentage of members lived in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area (see map above).  In the document below, it shows that 85% lived in the rest Continue reading 1957 Church Survey- Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church

Crank File- Rita Raymond of 1514 5th St NW

I’ve been holding on to this file out of respect for the ‘crank’ in the file. The crank was Rita Raymond, also known as Carolyn Phillips, aka Mary Dorn, aka Carolyn Mullen. I’m going to guess she’s dead by now. In 1948 she was arrested and released to the custody of her father. The next year, 1949 she was charged with petit larceny, so I’ll assume she was an adult. It’s 2021, she should be dead by now.

Rita Raymond’s Rap Sheet

At one point in time Rita lived at 1514 5th St NW and going by the name Mrs. Carolyn Phillips. She wrote a letter in 1963 from this address complaining about other people, including a woman who lived in her building. It seems that in 1963, this house (now worth over a million) was a rooming house.

When I first read this I thought she was a busybody neighbor. But as I read her file and saw her rap sheet (above), I realized she was suffering from mental illness. Continue reading Crank File- Rita Raymond of 1514 5th St NW