The Washington Sanitary Improvement Company built a number of homes in the Truxton Circle neighborhood in the late 19th and early 20th century. WSIC sold off a number of their rentals, with the idea of selling to African Americans. On it’s face the idea seems wonderful, but a deeper look reveals something less than wonderful.
In previous sales on the unit block of Bates Street there was a pattern. Most of the properties were 2 unit rentals, when they were sold, the buyer only got one-half interest or half of the house. So someone would buy 1/2 of the house, borrow money from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman, then in a year or so, lose their ownership in foreclosure.
Let’s see if 30 Bates Street NW fits that pattern:
- WSIC rentals are sold off in one big lot to business partners, Nathaniel J. Taube, Nathan Levin and James B. Evans for $3 million dollars in June of 1950.
- Jan. 26, 1951 Taube, Levin and Evans sell 1/2 of 30 Bates St NW to John R. and Fannie S. Dunston.
- Jan. 26, 1951 the Dunstons borrow $1,900 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
- Feb. 14, 1951 Taube, Levin and Evans sell the other 1/2 of 30 Bates St NW to William H. and Ruth E. Carter.
- Feb. 14, 1951the Carters borrow $1,900 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
- Sep. 18, 1953 the Carters lose their 1/2 to foreclosure and the property returns to Taube, Levin and Evans.
- Jan. 26, 1954 Taube, Levin and Evans sell 1/2 of 30 Bates St NW to Barney R. and Marguerite Nelson.
- Jan. 26, 1954 the Nelsons borrow $2,897.34 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
- Mar. 2, 1962 the Dunstons are released from their debt from Levin and Weightman and own their half free and clear.
- Nov. 30, 1967 the Nelsons are released from their debt from Levin and Weightman.
- Jan. 13, 1972 the Nelsons and the Dunstons sell their property to the DC Redevelopment Land Agency.
For a moment I was feeling hopeful. The Dunstons and the Carters managed to avoid foreclosure, pay off their debt and 30 Bates was not sold to George Basiliko. I’m not sure what the deal was with the sale to RLA.
The Nelsons were a Black couple. According to the 1950 census. Barney was a 38 year old labor and his 39 year old wife worked as a domestic for a private family. They both hailed from South Carolina.
Also in the 1950 census Fannie and John Dunston were living at 1736 13th Ave NW as lodgers. They were both African Americans from North Carolina. He was a 26 year old messenger working for the Federal government, she was 25 years old working in a hospital kitchen.