Black History Month meet Memory Lane: Carter G. Woodson’s House

Looking at some of the photographs I’ve taken I get to go down memory lane. Since it is Black History Month, let’s look at the father of Black History, Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s house at 1538 9th St NW. But let’s look at it in February 2014. A decade ago.

At the time it didn’t seem the National Park Service was going to do anything with this property or the adjoining properties it owned. I also vaguely remember the NPS was trying to take over a private home on the corner that is now a restaurant.

It had been this way for a while.

Memory Lane: 1500 Block of 1st St NW January 5, 2008

When I took this photo back in 2008 I did not know that the corner house had history. That it was the home of the notable Pocahontas Pope.

Taken Jan. 5, 2008. 1500 block of 1st St NW.

So much has changed since then. It’s been renovated and now I am more familiar with it’s notable former resident.

It was on the market last year, but I see the listing was removed. Well, better luck in 2024!

Memory Lane: December 26, 2005 1600 Blk of 4th St NW

Taken December 26, 2005. View of 300 Block of Q St NW from 1600 blk of 4th.

Happy Boxing Day.

A quick look at this photo taken in 2005 shows the block before the Fourth St Friendship Seventh Day Adventist church built their modern wing. It appears ground had been broken and fencing was up.

Taken December 15, 2007. Modern wing.

Memory Lane: Billboards on New Jersey Ave


Taken 11/15/2008. Looking north on the 1400 Block of New Jersey Ave NW

If you look where the condos at P and 4th/New Jersey NW are, there are two highway billboards. I believe one is advertising the movie Tinker Bell.

When I look back at the post Oh what could have been- a plan to destroy the TC and the map of the plan to have a multilane highway through Truxton Circle. I wonder if the billboards were placed there to take advantage of commuter traffic?

WSIC-1950 Sell Off- 124 Q Street NW

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 of property

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.

I should note this property is both lots 812 and 213.

Let’s see what happens with 124 Q St NW:

  • March 1951 (recorded April 1951) Evans, Levin and Taube sold one-fourth of 124 Q NW to Leon and Minnie Broadus.
  • March 1951 (recorded April 1951) Mr. and Mrs. Broadus borrowed $4,200 from Colonial Investment Co. favorite trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • March 1951 Evans, Levin, and Taube sold the one-fourth of 124 Q St NW to Miss. Elizabeth Williams.
  • March 1951 Williams borrowed $4,250 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • March 1951 Evans, Levin, and Taube sold the one-fourth of 124 Q St NW to George M. and Shirley A. Yates.
  • March 1951 the Yates borrowed $4,200 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • May 1951 Evans, Levin, and Taube sold the one-fourth of 124 Q St NW to Burton S. and Mattie L. Smith.
  • May 1951 the Smiths borrowed $4,200 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • May 1954 the Yates were the first to lose their apartment to foreclosure and via an auction it returned to the ownership of Evans, Levin and Taube.
  • September 1954 Miss Williams was the next to lose her apartment to foreclosure and it returned to the ownership of Evans, Levin and Taube through an auction.
  • March 1955 the Smiths were the 3rd household to lose their apartment to foreclosure and it returned to the ownership of Evans, Levin and Taube through an auction.
  • October 1963 Mr. and Mrs. Broadus managed to be released from their mortgage.
  • May 1972, Evans, Taube, the survivors of Nathan Levin, their spouses and Leon and Minnie Broadus together sold the 4 unit 124 Q St NW to the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA).
  • June 1980, as part of a large property package, the DC RLA sold/transferred 124 Q St NW to the BSA (Bates Street Assoc.) Limited Partnership.

This is an interesting property, because it was a 4 unit flat and 3 of the 4 original buyers lost ownership to foreclosure. I am surprised the 3 foreclosed units didn’t go to a certain slumlord. Instead, all parties sold the property to DC RLA. The other interesting thing was the price charged for one unit in this building.  Most people buying WSIC units paid less than $3,700 in a two-unit building. These people were paying more to share the building with more people. I wonder what the deal was with that.

Armstrong Became A Functional School Again

Earlier I looked at Langston which, as far I know, is still a husk of a building. Langston was a school where African American children learned and played. But despite being on the Register of Historic Places, it is still a decaying structure. Armstrong was also on the Register and it was delivered back to the land of the living and in the 2023-2024 school year be a place where African American children learn and play.

Armstrong Manual Training School. Under renovation. Taken October 14, 2007

The school underwent renovation in 2007 to turn it into a charter school. The man heading up the effort was Kent Amos, who is still alive. He was operating a profitable looking non-profit and was able to funnel about $24 million dollars into turning a decaying building to transform it into a functioning school.

Armstrong Technical High School Ruins
Armstrong HS, view from P and 1st St NW taken 6/26/2007

In 2009 neighbors complained that the CAPCS charter school was renting out the building to the Metropolitan Baptist Church and turning the field on 1st Street NW into a parking lot.  Yes, that parking lot got sneaked on.

View of Armstrong Parking Lot from Dunbar High School window. Taken April 2018.

There were problems with the CAPCS school and it’s founder. In 2015 Jennie Niles, the Deputy Mayor for Education issued a letter saying:

Dear CAPCS Parents and Guardians,

This morning, the District of Columbia Public Charter School Board (PCSB), an independent board, voted to revoke the charter for Community Academy Public Charter School (CAPCS). While the vote will undoubtedly cause angst for the 1,600 CAPCS students and their families, the District of Columbia is ready to make sure that the needs of the students are met for the 2015-16 school year.

At the request of Mayor Bowser, I developed a plan in collaboration with Friendship Public Charter Schools, DC Bilingual Public Charter School, and the Chancellor of DC Public Schools to provide as much continuity as possible for CAPCS students and families.

Armstrong Campus (1400 First Street, NW): Friendship Public Charter School will assume operations beginning next school year (2015-16) for all 523 students……

After that Armstrong has been operating as a regular old charter school. I’m happy it is a building that is being used and maintained.

Armstrong Technical High School, March 1942. Photo by Marjorie Collins.


This Was Once A Functional School- Langston School

Among the Library of Congress photographs were photographs of the John Mercer Langston School, which sits on the unit block of P St NW in Truxton Circle. I discovered photographs of the Langston School among the several photographs that photojournalist Marjory Collins took in March 1942. However, like the Slater School, it was not labeled. Thank goodness these schools are located so close to each other that this slice of Truxton Circle history has been captured.

Langston School taken March 1942

Collins, it seems was aiming to focus on the woman in the hat, not so much the school building.

[Untitled photo, possibly related to: Washington, D.C. Schoolteacher] Library of Congress
It was part of a series of photos of a school teacher. As the teacher seemed to live in a whole other part of town a goes unnamed, just like the school, I’m not particularly interested in following her story.

Langston Elementary was a functional school. It had students and teachers and staff. But now it is just an empty historic building:

Abandoned Langston School on P St NW.

The images below are from 2007. The building has been better secured in the past 16 years.

Western side of the Langston School on P St NW.
Langston School taken May 30, 2007
Rear of Langston? May 30, 2007
Broken Windows, Langston School. Taken May 30, 2007

Fifteenth Street Presbyterian 1899

Fifteenth St Presbyterian, ca 1899? Library of Congress

This is the old building, probably the same one that was in the 1957 Church Survey.