1957 Church Survey- Third Church of Christ Scientist- Random Churches not in Shaw

This church used to be know for it’s fugly building.

Third Church of Christ, Scientist - Washington, D.C..JPG
By AgnosticPreachersKid CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

But this is not about the fug, this is about history. [Yes, yes, we could go on about the history of the Brutalist building that only an architectural historian could love, but I’m here for the people]. Besides, in 1957 they weren’t even at 16th and I NW where the ugly building was. No, they were at 1220 L St NW, which is currently occupied by a nondescript 1980s looking Downtown office building.

The interesting thing about this survey submission is that they say that due to their own church rules they could not provide numbers.  But they did go on to say that most of their members did not live in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area. They don’t give a racial make up of their congregation, nor an idea if they members are white collar or blue. Continue reading 1957 Church Survey- Third Church of Christ Scientist- Random Churches not in Shaw

Church Survey 1957: Chinese Community Church

Taking another couple of pages from the church survey done back in 1957 of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which got changed into the Shaw Urban Renewal and Downtown Urban Renewal Areas. From the book we have the Chinese Community Church at 1011 L St N.W (Sq. 341, lots 63, 64 & D). I thought this church was outside of the Shaw boundaries but it seems to be within the Shaw Historic District.

This one was unusual. This 150 member church claimed to be the only Chinese protestant church in the District of Columbia. It also appears that at the time they were in the process of building their own church building. I will guess it was their current building at 500 I Street NW. But in 1957, Continue reading Church Survey 1957: Chinese Community Church

1957 Church Survey: Fifteenth Presbyterian

It’s been a while since I posted one of these. If you’re new, in the late 1950s there was a survey of all the religious institutions in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which came before the smaller Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. There is a whole book of churches that reveal a lot of information about churches, some that still exist.

15th-St-Presbyterian-Wiki-CommonsThis one is a confusing one. Fifteenth Presbyterian Church, could also be the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church. They are on the same block Sq. 207. However the lots cited, 801 and 802, don’t appear to exist anymore. Nor does the address 1449 R St NW. Google maps puts it in the back of the 15th St Church of the frozen chosen (black ice). I’mma going to make my life easier and just say that they are the same church, because what are the chances they aren’t?

This was and still is an African American church with 640 members in 1957. According the the survey half lived in the neighborhood along 14th St NW. But in 1957 there were also a lot of grey hairs, with 50% being over 50 years old and 21% being retirees.  They were also a church of professionals (40%) and white collar workers (20%).

CS 59 Fifteenth Presbyterian by Mm Inshaw

Carter G. Woodson- Much Ado About A Name

I’m going to start at the near end of Carter G. Woodson’s book The Mis-Education of the Negro with an essay called “Much Ado About a Name.”

It starts with a discussion with a Lady Simon, the wife of a British Cabinet member who asked what did Black Americans want to be called. Lady Simon did not want to offend African Americans in her writings.

Although a student of social problems, this learned woman cannot fathom this peculiar psychology. Americans, too, must confess the difficulty of understanding it, unless it is that the “highly educated Negro mind” tends to concern itself with trifles rather than with the great problems of life. We have known Negroes to ask for a separate Y. M. C. A. or Y. W. C. A., a separate church or a separate school, and then object to calling the institution colored or Negro. These segregationists have compromised on principle, but they are unwilling to acknowledge their crime against justice. The name, they believe, will save them from the disgrace.

It does not matter so much what the thing is called as what the thing is. The Negro would not cease to be what he is by calling him something else; but, if he will struggle and make something of himself and contribute to modern culture, the world will learn to look upon him as an American rather than as one of an undeveloped element of the population.

So this comes off as critical.  I get it. I was not initially on board with the term African-American because it seemed to make my Americaness secondary. But with use, I’ve come to find utility in the term and the related Afro-American and  AfAm terms. I like the option for variety. But it is very limited and when writing about other members of the African diaspora, African- British or Afro-Canadian, just looks and sounds clunky.

Later in the essay and what can be hinted at in the above quotes, he is critical of AfAms who seem to be ashamed or wanting to downplay their Blackness. He mentions multiracial people who take pride in their African heritage. “As a rule, however, a European of African Negro blood feels proud of this racial heritage and delights to be referred to as such. The writer saw a striking case of this in London in the granddaughter of a Zulu chief. She is so far removed from the African type that one could easily mistake her for a Spaniard; and yet she thinks only for her African connection and gets her inspiration mainly from the story of her people beyond the Pillars of Hercules.”

Oh and for those of you who caught a whiff of shade he threw at the “highly educated Negro mind”….. yeah. There’s a lot of that. I’ll start at the beginning of his book next time and as we go through.

Now I hope you learned a little bit more about Carter G. Woodson than you knew before.

There’s a hole in my Truxton Circle data

Image of hole in brick wallThere’s a hole in my Truxton Circle data. I discovered it with my Property Owners of Truxton Circle series. I was writing an article that I had hoped to publish based on the old data. But discovering this missing data means I have to take a break from that writing project.

It also means all the previous posts based on the data is a little off. It means the imagery based on the data is off.  The TruxtonCircle.org website will still have incorrect data until I am sure I got everything.

I guess this means I will be doing a bunch of QC. On the plus side, I’ll blog my discoveries.

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- George S. Duncan

It’s amazing how many George S. Duncans were in the world. And when I thought this Duncan was a reverend, there are a couple of Rev. George S. Duncans of Scottish decent. Thankfully the land records gave away his middle name and named his wife so that helped narrow things down.

George Stewart Duncan (3/2/1860-1946) and his wife Florence W. Duncan (1872-1949) owned several lots on Square 551. They owned Lot 16, which appears to include Lots 838 to 843, and Lots 30, 31, 32 and 840. They lived at 2900 7th St NE, not in Truxton Circle. His main profession was that of a minister and later he became an instructor at American University in Tenleytown. If I have the right Rev. George S. Duncan he is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery.

I’ve gone through an abnormal name change, so it could be karma should some future historian try to follow me. George S. seems to also be a George L. Duncan, as he has the same birthday. He’s gone through more than one wife as he is married to both a Florence and a Georgie Dennison both of New York state. Georgie was about 6-7 years older than George, and Florence was a younger model by 12 years. And they all lived on 7th Street NE.

Lot 32 went through an address change. According to Document #1936027307 it used to be 1619 3rd Street NW, and became 1633 3rd Street NW. It seems when the Duncans bought the property in 1924 it was 1619. By the time they did something (I am unsure how to interpret these documents) in 1936 with Mrs. John R. Hall (Martha K. Perry Hall) the address had changed to 1633 3rd St NW. With Square 511 having a different layout after the 1970s, this hints to trying to tie lots with addresses, difficult.  It appears that they sell it (all the lots) in 1941.

Landowner list of Sq 551I guess the reason why I am confused by the property documents are how they line up, or don’t, with the census records. So in 1930 the previously mentioned John and Martha Hall lived at 1633 3rd St NW and were listed as owners. But in the 1933-1934 Real Property Assessment (click on the image to see a larger sized item) has Rev. Duncan as the assessed party or owner. The documents between the white Duncans and the African American Halls range from 1924 to 1941. What was going on? I have no idea.

Property Owners of Truxton Circle- The Robinsons

Corner of R and Florida Ave NW, circa 1919/1921

For the Robinsons, you need to have read my post on the Levitovs because according to the Recorder of Deeds records, this is tied up in the Lot 19 mess.  Washington Robinson, is listed as the owner of Lot 848, but as we discovered with the Levitovs, Lots 846 to 855 are part of old Lot 19.

The thing with land records is that they don’t provide a lot of demographic information. I have no idea how old the people are. I can guess at ethnicity by names. So trying to tie people in with what I can find on Ancestry can be tricky. But sometimes the land records clue you in to other data points. With Washington Robinson, his wife Susie (nee Turner) is mentioned in some of the documents. And a rarity, the documents mentioned the address of their property, 144 R St NW. Continue reading Property Owners of Truxton Circle- The Robinsons

Property Owners of Truxton- Addendum to the Bundys

Okay, James F. Bundy from my previous post was on the DC School Board. So the Bundy School and the Bundy playground was named after him.

I found an obituary for him from the Evening Star on the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America site. In December 14, 1914 he died at the age of 50 at Freedmens Hospital. One of his pallbearers was Judge Robert H. Terrell.

Although he was born in Virginia, he spent most of his life in Washington, DC. He did leave for Oberlin College in Ohio, but returned to attend Howard.

Not sure what his belief system was. He was listed as a trustee for the Baha’i Assembly of Washington. But he was a member of the Second Baptist Church in his obit.

In addition to have been on the DC School Board (1901-1907), he was the secretary of the Howard University Law faculty. He was an alumni graduating from Howard Law school in 1886. When I looked for him, I would find his name attached to public notices regarding wills and probate.

Somewhere in a university library is his biography, “James F. Bundy, 1862-1914” by Charles Murdah Thomas. His papers are at the Historical Society of Washington, DC.

Doomed History

There is a saying, that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. And then there is another saying, “This time it’s different.” Both can be true.

111-LC-52730
Shaw destruction appeared in minute 13 of the original 19 minute clip. This is only 10 mins.

In 1968 Shaw, and some other areas, experienced an uprising, a riot, a civil disturbance, or whatever you choose to call it. Buildings were burnt out, stores were looted, windows were broken and it took 30 years for the neighborhood to come back.

I am concerned about the neighborhood and what may happen after Election Day. I’ve been predicting presidential elections correctly since I was 10. Y’all ain’t gonna like the results, so I’m taking Desctructo-kid and hanging out with friends in the boonies of Maryland for a while. I could be wrong. If so, it’s a little vacation. [UPDATE 11/9/20. It looks like my prediction streak hit a snag. Well as long as the people are happy, so be it.]

Our block fared okay in 1968. It should be okay. However in 1968 businesses on the corner of New Jersey and Rhode Island were damaged.

Most of the damage Shaw experienced in 1968 were along her commercial corridors along 14th, 9th, and 7th Streets. Black businesses were hit as well as white and Asian businesses and property.

Southeast on 7th and M Street, 1969

The destruction brought neither justice or peace. It did hasten building public and affordable housing because it also made neighborhood property cheaper. The thing with urban renewal is that the government buying the property gets to value to the property. And in minority areas, the government doesn’t pay top dollar.

Yes, this time it is different. Shaw isn’t a slum. But this time there are struggling businesses on the edge, as there was in 1968. COVID-19 has made it a sad Darwinist contest of survival of the fittest businesses. I just hope we never see the days of burned out husks of buildings and rows of empty storefronts again.

 

1957 Church Survey: Third Church of God

Okay I had to look at the old Shaw map to figure out if this was in Mount Vernon Square or Shaw or both. The answer is both. The Mount Vernon Square historical district overlaps with parts of Shaw.

Commercial Building Map
Map of Shaw for 1970 Commercial Buildings

The the other question was, “Is this the church on New Jersey Ave?”  Yup, 3rd Street, New Jersey Ave, same diff apparently. That little section between Morgan and New York Avenue, has northbound traffic going on New Jersey and southbound traffic on 3rd Street.

The Third Church of God appears to continue on as the Third Street Church of God. In the 1957 survey their address is listed as 1204 3rd Street NW. Looking at their history listed on their website they wrote: Continue reading 1957 Church Survey: Third Church of God