Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Mary Logan- 1606 4th St NW

Sooooo Mary Logan bought 1606 4th St NW from Nick and Helen Basiliko, who were relatives of “Slum Lord” George Basiliko in 1944. The Basilikos are all over the Truxton neighborhood and I looked at George and I felt like I was looking a little too close to the abyss. Maybe one day I will address this, but not today Satan.

Mary Logan was a single woman who lived with her sister and a renting family according to the 1950 census. In the prior 1940 census she was renting a unit at 1618 7th St NW with her older sisters, Elizabeth and Cora Logan, nephews Ronnie and Richard, and niece Martha Logan. She worked as a presser at a laundry.

Mary purchased 1606 4th St NW in June 1944 and borrowed $1,923.25 at 6% interest. In 1954 she took out a couple of new loans, $2,200 from the Perpetual Building Association and $750 from trustees, and paid off her initial 1944 loan.

In the 1950, according to the census, Mary was the head of the household. The house had Mary, her sister Cora, her brother Albert, her nephews Richard and James, and nieces Elaine, Maryanne and Martha. In addition to family, crowded into the home were a family of roomers, a single mother Edna Wenley and her three sons and a laborer named Luther Cullins. That’s 13 people.

According to Redfin, 1606 4th St NW has 1,234 square feet. There is a basement unit and a two bedroom unit on the above ground floors. So if the roomers were only in the basement, that’s still 8 people upstairs.

In 1959 the house was foreclosed for failure to pay the Perpetual Building Association loan. In 1950 of the 5 adults, only 3 were employed. Albert, who was a delivery man, married in 1952 and may have moved out. I’m don’t know what happened there.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Charles and Louise Penny- 1632 4th St NW

I’m noticing something with the 1950 census. There are lots of female headed households….. but the husband is there. Normally the husband gets listed as the head. It’s probably nothing.

Anywho, our next homeowner is Louise Penny of 1632 4th St NW, an African American homemaker. She lived with her husband Charles, a drug store porter, and their nine, yes, 9 children. Charles was from Rocky Mount, NC. Louise was either from Maryland or Massachusetts, as the location isn’t consistent.

Charles L. and Louise E. Jenifer Penny purchased 1632 4th St NW, after living across the street at 1631, in October 1944 from Teck Construction Company. You may remember Teck Construction from Lula Lee of 1614-1616 4th St NW.  They borrowed $2,800 and $1,054.07 from Mount Vernon Mortgage Corporation. Then in 1951 the borrowed $2,100 from the Perpetual Building Association. That allowed them to pay off their initial 1944 loans. Something happened and they lost the house to foreclosure in 1959.

So yes, the Penny family lived on 4th Street prior to becoming owners. In the 1940 census the family of five were lodgers at 1631 4th with home owners William and Elnora Lewis, and four other lodgers. The houses on the odd side of 4th are much larger and probably could have accommodated 11 people. They moved away and lived at 1303 Corcoran Street NW when Charles had to fill out a draft card.

Not sure what happened to the Penny family after they lost 1632. Charles Lee Penny died in February 1977 in the District of Columbia. Louise Penny died September 5, 1990.

Comparative White DC Home Owner- Georgetown- Charles P. Reckert- 3214 Volta Place NW

Although the African American home owners of Truxton Circle are my focus, I am looking at a few other blocks in Washington, DC to compare them to. So I looked at the census for blocks in the city that were in the F1 or red lined category, but happened to be 90%-100% white. I included Georgetown, and this is the story of one household.

photo of 3214 Volta Pl circa 2004

According to the 1930 Census Charles P. Reckert was the owner of 3214 Volta Place. He lived there with his wife Valeria Irene Warner Reckert, and their children, Charles Peter Jr., May Callista, William F. and Eileen Reckert. By the 1940 census the Reckerts had 3 more children Joseph W., Virginia M. (later Lapp), and Robert W. No surprise, they were a Catholic family and parishioners of Holy Trinity Church.

Mr. Reckert was a multi-type machinist working for the Government Printing Office. He had been employed with the GPO since he was a messenger boy in 1911 then moved up to the role of machinist before 1920 after serving in the first World War.

According to the land records the Charles and Valeria purchased 3214 Volta in April 1929 from Eudora B. Johnson. In December 1931 they took out a loan with the Oriental Building Association. It looks sort of like a HELOC where there was a range, and the range appeared to be $1,800-$4,000. They closed the loan ten years later in 1941.

Then something curious happens. When I’ve seen this sort of thing with the TC homeowners it happens on the same day and is a way to change the name of who is on the property. Usually to remove the name of a spouse or add or transfer it to a family member. November 1945 the Reckarts sell/transfer the property to Minnie May Wanner. I attempted to find any connection with Minnie May with either Charles or Valeria. As far I as could find, Mrs. Wanner was a Baltimore widow and Charles’ family lived in Charm City at some time in the 1920s. A few months later, in March of 1946, Wanner sells/transfers the property to Valeria and in her name only.

I’m not entirely sure why this was done. They did not divorce and Charles was no where near death. I’m guessing taxes.

Valeria took out two loans. In her name only. The first was in 1946 ($3,000-$20,000) and the second in 1950 ($7,500 ) with the Washington Loan and Trust Company. It appears the second loan paid off the first and the second loan was completed in 1969.

By the 1950 census the Reckerts had moved a few blocks over to 3130 Dumbarton Ave NW. That census revealed they had another son, David. World War I records show that the Dumbarton Ave home was previously home to Charles’ father Charles G. Reckert, a Baltimore grocer.

Charles and Valeria died in 1972. Their many heirs, being their children and their children’s spouses, sold the property in 1973.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: William and Ida Harrison- 1613 New Jersey Ave NW

This will be short because it seems the Harrisons, and African American family of 1613 New Jersey Avenue, briefly show up and then quickly disappear.

Independent truck driver William and his wife Ida Harrison purchased 1613 New Jersey Ave NW in October 1921. For the 1920 census the family lived at 2030 L Street NW. The 1930 census showed the couple lived with their four daughters (Elnora, Edna, Sylvia and Mary), one remaining son William Jr., and two lodgers Luke and Alberta Goodwin.

The Harrisons took out several loans for the time they owned 1613. When they purchased the house they borrowed $3000 and $1500 at 7% interest from two separate sets of trustees. Then in 1927 and 1928 they engaged in a flurry of borrowing. They borrowed a small amount, $225, in 1927. Then it appears in January 1928 they refinanced their 1921 loans, borrowing $3800 from the Perpetual Building Association, and $800 from other trustees. They refinance their 1927 debt between February and April 1928. Then it looks like they refinance the January debt in August. They take out one new loan in 1929 for $485. One of the August 1928 wasn’t paid and they lost their home in 1935 in foreclosure.

The family moved on after that. In the 1940 census, Ida was head and William Sr. not with her at 1410 11th St NW. She lived with daughters Mary and Edna, son William, son-in-law Sandy Warren and married daughter Elnora Warren.


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Lula Lee- 1614-1616 4th St NW

photo of propertyI’m not sure where to go with this because I cannot find any helpful information about Mrs. Lula M. Lee. It did not help there was a very active Mrs. Lula Lee running around Alexandria, VA and other Mrs. Lula Lees in DC. I know these are the wrong Mrs. Lees because the correct Mrs. Lee was married to Alexander Lee. The other Lees were married to Robert and Tommy. Plus, she owned both 1616 and 1614 4th Streets NW and seemed to have occupied both.

Typically, the owner appears in several other censuses, but not in her case. She seems to have only existed in the 1950 census. She was the head of 1616 4th St and lived with her cousins Agnes Jones, her spouse, Leroy Jones, their children, Butch William and Estella Jones, as well as adult cousins Jennie, Davis and Iza Montgomery. It was a very full house. I don’t blame her for buying a second home next door.

Mrs. Lee bought 1616 4th St NW from the Dardens, who I already wrote about in 1942. She had one loan for the property, solely in her name, with the purchase of the home, for $1,600 with trustees Dickson and Franklin. It was settled in 1952.

In 1944 she purchased the house next door, 1614 4th St NW from the Teck Construction Company. Teck also provided her with a loan to purchase the property for $1,300 and $2,400 at 6% interest. It appears she refinanced with the Oriental Building Association in 1954. She fulfilled her OBA loan in 1964. She had some financing deal with Washington Gas for a new boiler in 1971.

She and her husband Alexander Lee (the only time he shows up in the paperwork) sold 1616 4th St NW in 1962. It appears that she may have moved over to 1614 4th after that because the 1971 & 1973 paperwork for the Washington Gas has her at 1614 4th St NW. She died, sometime before 1981, and the executor of her estate sold 1614 4th St NW to Loball, Inc.