1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1737 New Jersey Avenue

1700 Block NJ Ave NW, 1930. Brown= AfAm residents; White= No data

In this series of looking at the odd numbered side of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW from 1920 to 1930, I decided to look at the other end of the block. The change from 1920 to 1930 for most of the block was from white renters to black home owners. My post The sell off of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW pretty much explains the why.

At this point, I’m just seeing who lived there, where did they go, where did they live before, and who were the African American buyers who purchased the property and where did they live before.

1920 Renters

There were two White families recorded as living at 1737 NJ Ave NW in the 1920 census. The first family was 36 year old piano polisher Alfred Fowler and his 46 year old wife Mary E. Fowler. The second family were the Sissons (spelled Sison in the 1920 census). William Sisson was 35 year old father and husband working as a machinist at the Navy Yard. He lived with 25 year old wife Mary A. (nee Noyes) and 1 month old son William L.

Alfred Henry Fowler Jr. was born June 28, 1882 in Washington, DC. For the 1910 census he and wife Mary were living in Truxton Circle at 213A Bates St NW with lodger Marshall Elwell. Alfred was working as a paper hanger, Mary was a train maker (the long part of a bride’s dress) for a tailor and they had been married for 6 years, since 1904. The Fowlers had moved to NJ Ave by 1917/1918 and Alfred worked as a wood finisher.

After moving from New Jersey Avenue in 1920, the Fowler marriage fell apart. Alfred received the absolute divorce from Mary June 30, 1925. At that time Alfred was living in Clarendon, VA and Mary was at 1812 6th St NW. Desertion was claimed as the cause. I cannot locate Mary for the 1930 census, but for the 1940 census she was a 68 year old single woman living in an Upton St rooming house. Alfred was doing better. By the 1930 census he had a new wife, Lauretta Courtney, a department store seamstress, who he married in 1928, and owned his own home in Arlington, VA working as a house painter. He died in 1949.

In 1910 the Sissons were still single young people. Mary was Mary/Etta A. Noyes, 19 years old, living with her parents James and Mary N. Noyes at 1706 1st St NW, working as a department store clerk. In 1910, William was a boarder living with the Charles E. Hoyer family on Sixth St working as a machinist for the rail road.

The Sissons bought their 213 Webster St home in 1924. They had a 5 year old daughter by the 1930 census. William was still working as a machinist. William died in 1940 and Mary lived as a widow renting again.

The Owners

According to the 1930 census James E. and wife Bessie (nee Monroe) Nelson were the African American owners of 1737 NJ Ave NW. They weren’t but their 67 year old widowed uncle who lived with them was the titled owner. They may have had some private arrangement with him.

In the latter part of 1920, James L. and wife Mary C. Johnson purchased 1737 New Jersey Avenue, and financed the purchase with a loan from W. Wallace Chiswell, H.A. Kite for $2,900 at 6% interest. James L. and Mary C. Johnson, June 1926 got a loan from the Washington Loan and Trust Company for the Equitable Co-Operative Building Association for $3,100. James L. Johnson sold the home July 26, 1935 to Annie and Barnett Shapiro.

Unfortunately, with common names like James and Mary Johnson I could not create a history for this couple. And even their relatives were also dead ends.

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