The Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) was a late 19th century charitable capitalism experiment that ended in the 1950s. This blog started looking at the homes that were supposed to be sold to African American home buyers, after decades of mainly renting to white tenants.
Looking at WSIC properties they tend to have a pattern where the properties were sold to a three business partners, Nathaniel J. Taube, Nathan Levin and James B. Evans as the Colonial Investment Co. for $3 million dollars. Those partners sold to African American buyers. There was usually a foreclosure. Then the property wound up in the hands of George Basiliko and or the DC Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA). Then there were the odd lucky ones who managed to avoid that fate.
Let’s see what happens with 40 O St NW:
- February 1951 Evans, Levin and Taube sold one-half of 40 O St NW to Nellie and John R. Burton.
- February 1951 the Burtons borrowed $3,125 from Colonial Investment Co. favorite trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
- February 1951 Evans, Levin, and Taube sold the other half of 40 O St NW to Helen O. and Robert M. Pyndell.
- February 1951 the Pyndells borrowed $3,125 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
- March 1958 the Pyndells lost their half of the property to foreclosure and through an auction the property returned to Evans and Taube and new partner Harry A. Badt.
- March 1958, as part of a larger property package, the Badts (Harry A. and wife Jennie) transfer/sold their interest in 40 O St NW to Nathan Levin’s survivors.
- August 1958 the Burtons lost their half of the property to foreclosure and the property returned to Badt, Evans and Taube via an auction.
- August 1958, as part of a larger property package, Harry and Jennie Badt transferred/sold their interest in 40 O St NW to Nathan Levin’s survivors.
- March 1959, Badt, Evans, Taube, the Levin survivors, and their spouses, as part of a large property package, sold the whole of 40 O St to Sophia and George Basiliko.
- July 1971, as part of a large property package, George & Sophia Basiliko sold 40 O St NW to the Housing System Development and Construction Corp.
Once again it appears that the scheme set up just set Africans American buyers for failure. And as a bit of irony housing expressly built to improve renters lives wound up in the hands of a slumlord who did not improve the lives of his tenants.
Robert Martell Pyndell, before buying 40 O St NW, was a Black truck driver living with his in-laws at 521 2nd St SE in 1950. In 1947 he married Helen Odessa Shepard. After this loss in Truxton Circle the family managed to buy a home in 1961 at 306 Channing Street NE. Funnily, looking at the Channing St deed, there is covenant language on document 1961001489 stating that the property should not be sold, leased or conveyed to any person of negro or part negro blood. Mr. Pyndell appears to be unmistakably black. This was in 1961, after racial covenants were found to be unconstitutional in 1948. The Pyndells eventually wound up in Alabama, with Robert selling a plot of land (parking spot? Sq 3554 lot 0106) in 1985.
Unfortunately, there were two John R. Burtons and two Nellie Burtons (married to different people) buying and owning property in DC at the time. I found a John Burton, an Afro-American barber married to a Nellie (nee Lane?) living at 505 O Street NW in the 1920 census. But I’m not 100% sure these are the same people.