I think I have a relative with the name “Novella”, so it is a very interesting name. Anywho, Novella F. Gibson owned lot 856 on Square 551, and I cannot find it for the life of me. According to the 1933-1934 General Assessment, lot 856 was a strip of land with some structure on it. In the land records she is Novella and Novalla and she owned lots 7, 8, and 189. With low numbers like 7 & 8 those are probably ‘old’ lot numbers that were divided into smaller lots of which she owned one or more.
In 1930 she was an African American housewife living at 136 Bates St NW in a home she and her husband Joseph M. Gibson owned, with their two children. Not all the documents involving her mention her husband who was the owner of a Tailor shop.
Looking at lot 189, the earliest is a 1924 release naming Joseph and Novella as co-owners. If I were to guess, they borrowed money from a couple, Claude A. & Elizabeth S. Killmon with trustees acting as middle men. The next year they were released from another debt to Edward C. Walter and James T. Gibson. In 1929 they used the property as collateral to borrow $1,600 from the Liberty Building Association. They borrowed again, from two trustees (no institution named) in January 1931 for $500. They sold the lot later that year to Giuseppe and Elisa Giuliani, a Dupont Circle area deli man.
Novella bought old lot 7 and 8 in 1922 from William C. and Linnie B. Bates. She is not listed with her husband, nor is her marital status mentioned in this document. The land sits between 213 and 215 Que (Q) Street and straddles both old lots. Attached to that deed is a loan for $1,250 from two individual trustees naming both Mr. & Mrs. Gibson. In 1926 the Gibsons borrow $1,200 using the property. In 1933 they transfer the property to one of the trustees from the 1926 loan, Charles S. Muir.
Regarding lot 856, it appears to be the old lot 7 & 8 from a Deed of Release where a new owner, John B. Dickman, pays off the debts incurred by Mrs. Gibson to Charles S. Muir between December 1940 and January 1941.