Memory Lane: 1200 Block of 4th Street NW- 2007

I looked on Google Street View to see what the difference a decade and a half, plus a lot of development and reinvestment makes.

Taken around December 2007. 1223 4th St NW.
1221 4th St NW, Washington, DC circa 2007.
1221 4th St NW. Taken around December 2007.
1221 4th St NW. Taken around December 2007.
1200 block of 4th St NW.
1200 block of 4th St NW. Taken around December 2007.

Memory Lane: Somewhere in Mt. Vernon Sq.

I don’t know where this is. But it feels like Mt. Vernon Sq. and this is circa 2007.

Taken on December 20, 2007

Memory Lane: 1630 4th St NW- Sweat Equity

I’m embarrassed that I can’t remember off the top of my head the names of my neighbors. But I do remember they moved in some years after I did and the husband was a friend and co-worker (they worked for the same development/building company) of the neighbor across the street.

These houses were old. They needed renovating. They were circa 1870-ish housing built for Black renters and were rentals for roughly 100+ years. So they weren’t necessarily in the best shape. Amazing things were done by those who came in and fixed up these homes using their talents, skills and bank loans.

1630 4th St NW

It’s not fun living in the middle of a renovation. I grew up in a house that was half constructed (*grumble it’s been 40 flipping years and dad’s still not done*.) During the years I lived in Shaw I witnessed many people living in the middle of their rehabs.

The house was purchased by a couple in 2003, when these pictures were taken. The husband did most of the construction and the wife (who had an eye for these things) did the design. She was also the heart of the block progressive parties that came and went when they moved away.

They had kids and when the eldest ‘lost’ the school lottery, they put the house on the market and left.

Memory Lane: There’s a house there now- 1541 4th St NW

1500 block of 4th St NW or Islamic Way NW. Taken December 15, 2007.

See the photo above. There was a space between the taller yellow house and the shorter white house. That space is 1541 4th St NW. What is there now is a house worth around a million dollars according to Redfin. Infill I think is the word I should use.

Memory Lane: 403 R St NW

I’m going through old photos, walking down memory lane I spot this bunch of 403 R St NW.

Taken December 23, 2007. 400 block of R St NW.

I’ve researched the history with Black Home Owner- Lewis Griffin. And I’ve looked at it as a long vacant house on the 400 block of R Street with cinder block windows.

Those permits in the window seemed just for show. Nothing happened to this house for years and years.

Fast forward to today, and Redfin claims the renovated house is worth well over a million dollars. The key word here is “renovated”.

I’m going to resist going on a tangent about the worth of housing. I’m very sorry that housing has gotten so ‘flippin’ expensive. But that’s the cost of all the things we want out of housing. The cheapest housing in the world is a tent or a crappy hut with some random materials thrown together on land you can’t claim. We want walls that are strong and will keep out the bad weather. We want A/C and heat. We want to keep out rodents (good luck). We want plumbing and electrical systems that work. And we want the local municipality to approve it. All this adds costs. It doesn’t explain all of the costs.

Anyway, this went from being an abandoned vacant house to a home.

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1727 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.

So let’s look at the residents of 1727 New Jersey from 1920 to of property

The White Renters

In the 1920 census there was one family occupying 1727 New Jersey Ave NW. It was headed by a 59 year old “widow” Mary A. Moore. She was a Massachusetts born Irish American. She lived in the house with her adult children and 45 year old roomer. Her son John J. Moore was a 30 year old self-employed artist with is own studio. Her 26 year old daughter Margarite worked as a clerk for War Risk in the Treasury Department.

The 1930 census shows that Mary wasn’t widowed. Her husband Richard F. Moore was alive and well and living with his family at 913 Jackson St NE. Son John J. was a commercial artist and owner of the home. Daughter Marguerite was 38 year old lawyer for the Federal government. The children were still single.

Moving forward to the 1950 census, Marguerite C. Moore was an attorney for the VA. She lived with her brother, who also did not marry, still worked as a commercial artist making about $30K which was very good money in 1950.

The Black Owners

The DC Recorder of Deeds records aren’t helpful. The buyer Addie E. Webb purchased the home February 1921, and paid off the loan in February of 1924. And that’s the last that is heard from Webb. In 1935 there is a judgement where William Dodson had to relinquish 1727 NJ Ave NW to Mamie Smith. The judgement doesn’t say why.

Addie E. Webb was an African American hairdresser. In 1920 she was 50 years old and lived at 1514 S St NW. It appears she shared an apartment or something with a 40 year old woman named Ida Smith who was also a hairdresser that census year. Ida (nee Roane) had been Addie’s landlady back in the 1900 census, when Addie lived with Arthur S. Smith, Ida and Ida’s mother and brother, and Arthur’s cousin James Watkins.

I’ll take a guess Addie did not make it to the 1930 census.

I have no idea who William Dodson was and how he came into possession of the property. In the 1910 census Addie lived with Ida Smith and Addie’s daughter, public school teacher Helen (Ellen?) F. Webb. She doesn’t show up in the long list of people who signed off in selling the property in 1939 along with Mamie Smith. Could Mamie Smith be related to Ida Smith? A C. William Webb is mentioned in the legal notice about the 1936 judgement. In an 1935 article in the Afro-American, it appears C. William Webb, son of Addie, disappeared and had been missing for 30 years. Mamie Smith was one of his heirs. One of many. So they went to court to get a hold of the property to sell it and split the estate.

The Black Renters

So if Addie Webb did not make it to the 1930 census, then who was there in 1930? Wade Shields a 31 year old barber who was renting the property with five female lodgers. In 1928, he was living or operating out of 17 Fenton NE. In 1922 Wade married Gladys Rodgers. They were not living together in this census.

As for the lodgers with Mr. Shields, one was a woman, and the remaining females were minor children. Rose Johnson was the adult, a 28 year old hair dresser. The eldest child was Thelma Pryor a 16 year old who worked in a laundry. Pryor’s mother was Lucille Johnson and it appears Rose and Thelma were related, as they share a headstone. I don’t see any relationship with Mr. Shields or his missing wife, except for the profession of working with Black hair. This is something they shared with the previous owner Addie Webb. The other girls were 11, 10 and three years old and listed as lodgers. I wonder if they were foster children?

Memory Lane: 219 P St NW

219 A P St NW. Taken December 15, 2007

I’ve featured this address before as a former Washington Sanitary Improvement home that was sold to African American buyers in the 1950s. All did not end well as you could gather in 2007 when this photo was taken. There were some questions about ownership that weren’t clear.

Well somebody, or somebodies own it now. I looked on Redfin and it looks like it has been split into 3 units, with 3 separate entries, up from the original 2.

Redlining in the TC- the dog that didn’t bark

I’m not done with the WSIC-1950 Sell Off series of posts, but I can recognize a pattern. What’s the pattern? The houses formerly rented by the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) were sold by the Colonial Investment Co who would sell two halves of a house to African American buyers. And then there would be a foreclosure. Not always, but very often. And for some mysterious reason the property always returned back to the Colonial Investment owners. Then they would sell it to slum landlord George Basiliko who would eventually sell the property to the DC Redevelopment Land Agency. That was the pattern.

There was something else I noticed in the pattern. It wasn’t obvious. It was what I did not see with other Black home owner posts.

225 Bates St NW (yellow)

The WSIC series came after a lot of Black Home Owner of Truxton Circle series’ posts. For most of the Black home owners I looked at between 1920 to about 1950 most things were fine. They borrowed money, they sold their homes, willed their homes to family members…. who then sold the houses. Every so often, there would be a foreclosure. Sometimes the lenders would be institutions like the Perpetual Building Association or individual trustees.

I noticed that for most WSIC buyers they did not have the option of institutional lenders. BW-photo-of-Bates-St-NW-DC

Redlining is when home buyers and owners in an area are denied financial products, like home loans, because of where they lived. Their area was red-lined.

In one Sherlock Holmes detective story, the great detective noticed that the watchdog did not bark the night of the murder, hinting that the dog knew the murderer. It took me a while but I noticed there was no other lender than Colonial Investment’s lenders. I found the redlining when WSIC buyers were denied other financial products. It was a subtle fact like the dog who did not bark. It was the lenders who were not there, who operated elsewhere in other parts of the neighborhood.

The red line was between North Cap, 3rd St,  P and Q Sts NW and only of formerly WSIC homes.

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1729 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.

photo of property

The Renters

The couple renting 1729 NJ Ave NW was fairly old. The head, George P. Blair was 66 years old in 1920 and his wife, Annie (nee West) was 62. They lived with their two very adult sons and two adult daughters. George was born in Jessups Cut, MD in 1853 to Scottish or Irish parents. In 1910 the family lived at 631 T St NW when George Peter was a barber.

In 1920 George Sr. worked as a watchman for a dry goods store. His 37 year old son George P. Jr. was a clerk for a field service and 36 year old James Clinton Blair was a clerk at a furniture store. Thirty-three year old daughter Fannie May Blair was a sales woman at J M Gidding and Co. The youngest, Bernice, 23, did not have a job.

George Sr. died in 1927. He was survived by his wife and two surviving children, James and Bernice. James had moved to Cleveland, OH. Annie and Bernice, who worked as a cashier, lived on Girard St NW. Annie Blair eventually died, December 30, 1938 at 1114 Monroe Street NW at the age of 80.

The Owners

1729 NJ Ave NW (Sq. 507, lot 24) sold from M. Harvey Chiswell to Ida M. Smith then to Arthur B. Wall around February 1921. That same month Smith sold it to Arthur B. Wall, according to the Washington Herald.

However the earliest document found for lot 24 is from 1928 and the owner was Anna Grayson. There was a 1928 release for a February 12, 1921 loan Grayson had with Chiswell and Kite. In 1928 it appears she borrowed $3,400 from trustees Stuart V. Davis and Edward McDermott. She had other loans, but it was this one that was the instrument that allowed for the 1931 foreclosure and the transfer of ownership to Leo and Mavina Kahn.

The residents at 1729 NJ Av NW, according to the 1930 census, contained the African American Grayson family.  George W. Grayson, was the 62 year old head, Anna (nee Lee) was his 59 year wife. They lived there with their widowed son, 36 year old George Jr. and 28 year old daughter Mrs. Evelyn Chantrelle.

Prior to NJ Ave, the Grayson family lived at 1469 Church St NW as renters in 1920. They lived with their daughters and son-in-law. George Sr. was a laborer for a motor company. Anna was a housekeeper for a boarding house. Daughter Juanita was a waitress at a restaurant and husband Clifton W. Kelly was a paper cutter.

George Sr. died January 29, 1931 and it appears this was the thing to have the family fall apart. Remember this was the same year the Graysons lost the home to foreclosure. Anne died December 10, 1941. I looked for her in the 1940 census, but I can’t find her.