1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1733 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 households living at 1733 New Jersey Ave NW in 1920. The Tidmeyers (actually Widmire), headed by 47 year old plasterer Charles, and the Millers headed by 30 year old driver John. Neither household had children in their households at the time.

I can’t give a history for the Millers because there was another John Miller in DC, living on Wisconsin Ave NW, married to a Florence. Their birthyears are around about the same time. But the John Miller at 1733 was married to Flossie and drove an ice cream wagon. I need to note his neighbor at 1731 also drove an ice cream wagon.

Ancestry confuses Charles F. Widmeyer who was also married to an Elizabeth with Charles A. Widmire married to Bessie (a variant of Elizabeth). The tip off was that Chas. F’s wife died in 1907. So I am not 100% sure I picking a Chuck based off my best guess.

Charles was born in Washington, DC around 1870 to German parents. He married Bessie around 1890. Bessie brought 3 sons (Eugene, John J. and Frank Convoy) into the marriage and together had daughter Helen. In 1900 and 1910 the family lived at 520 R St NW. 1920 was not a good year for Charles. In the Evening Star he brought a complaint to the Rent Commission in March 1920. It appears the commission made their decision late in the year after M. Chiswell sold the property. The new owners, the Whiteheads could up the rent to $40. Charles died March 18, 1949 at 1227 6th St NW, and was predeceased by his wife.

The Owners

1733 NJ Ave NW (Sq. 507, lot 26) based on a July 1926 release from a loan with W. Wallace Chiswell, Harry A. Kite, James A. and Coralie Whitehead purchased the property November 1, 1920.

James Arthur Whitehead was born Continue reading 1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1733 New Jersey Avenue

Memory Lane- John Cook School now Mundo Verde at dusk

Memory lane is the series where I go through my old photos of the Truxton Circle (or Shaw) neighborhood and reflect.

The John Cook School is the building that Mundo Verde PCS now occupies. When the photos were taken in 2007, I believe the school had recently closed, but the city kept the lights on.

Taken November 29, 2007. John Cook School.
Taken November 29, 2007. John Cook School.
Taken November 29, 2007. John Cook School.
Taken November 29, 2007. Boys entrance to John Cook School.
Taken November 29, 2007. Girls entrance for Cook school.
Taken November 29, 2007 at dusk. John Cook School.
Taken on November 29, 2007. Corner of John Cook School at dusk.

 

 

 

Redlining and Truxton Circle teaser

I’d been quite busy with preparing for the DC History Conference and while writing up my presentation I discovered redlining in Truxton Circle.

I had previously thought red lining did not apply to Truxton Circle. Black homeowners bought and sold homes and used institutional and private lenders to get mortgages. The definition I had heard was the complete lack of financial sources.

As I was rewriting my script for the conference, I put two separate ideas together and the scales fell from my eyes. I saw it as clear as day. Which then meant I had to rewrite my whole pitch.

I do plan to share this revelation but it needs to be a several part series. This is my teaser.

Some Post DC Conference Notes- Resources and Sources

There was a great turn out for the Neighborhood History and Housing session for the DC History Conference at the MLK Library. I ran into the amazing Scott Roberts. I had a handout, I’m not sure he got a copy. And for those of you who want to know what resources you can tap into to do similar histories take a look below:

DC Public Library– https://www.dclibrary.org/
Under Research & Learn (DCPL library card required)

Ancestry (AncestryLibrary)- https://www.dclibrary.org/research-and-learn/ancestry-library-edition

Historical Washington Post (ProQuest)- https://www.dclibrary.org/research-and-learn/washington-post

Library of Congress– https://www.loc.gov/
Chronicling America/ Evening Star – https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map for DC (volume 2)- https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn01227_003/

 

 

 

 

DC Recorder of Deeds (online land records)- https://countyfusion4.kofiletech.us/countyweb/loginDisplay.action?countyname=WashingtonDC

Find A Grave– https://www.findagrave.com/

National Archives & Records Administration– https://www.archives.gov
Map No. 2 Neighborhood Convenience Stores; Records Relating to Urban Renewal, 1934–1998, entry A1 13, Records of the National Capital Planning Commission Record Group 328, National Archives Building, Washington, DC.  (NAID 784266)

Washington DC Map 1936Map of the Metropolitan District of Washington DC, 1936; file Housing Market Analysis Washington, D.C. July 1937; Records Relating to Housing Market Analyses, 1940–1942, entry A1-6; Records of the Federal Housing Administration, Record Group 31; National Archives Building, College Park, MD. (NAID 122213881)

..and I managed to leave this one off- also from the National Archives. AND I gave the wrong citation. oops.

General Assessment 1902-1903, Volume I, Squares 459 to 555, Page 320; General Land Assessment Files, 1902–1938; Records of the Government of the District of Columbia Record Group 351; National Archives Building, Washington, DC.  (NAID 145723973)

 

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. Continue reading 1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1737 New Jersey Avenue

WSIC-1950 Sell Off- 134 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 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.

photo of property

Let’s see what happens with 134 Q St NW:

  • December 1950 (recorded Jan 18, 1951) Evans, Levin and Taube sold 134 Q St NW to Fern W. and Malachi H. Taylor.
  • December 1950 (recorded Jan 18, 1951) the Taylors borrowed $6,500 from Colonial Investment Co. favorite trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • March 1962 the Taylors were released from their 1950 loan.
  • December 1988, Malachi H. Taylor sold the property to Selamawite Makonnen and Assegid Tessema. The deed noted that Fern died May 29, 1965.

This was a successful story. Most Black buyers of these homes wind up getting foreclosed upon. Also many who buy the whole property tend to get into a situation where they have to sell half. Not so here with the Taylors.

Who were the Taylors?

Malachi Henry Taylor Jr. was born September 30, 1909 in Washington, DC to Ida Gibson and Malachi Taylor. He married Fern Waddy March 13, 1934 in Leesburg, VA. Fern was born August 18, 1905 in DC to Elizabeth Baker and John Waddy. In 1935, Malachi Sr. died. It appears Malachi Jr. was involved in a numbers running venture and was arrested in 1959 and was living on the 1900 block of 9th St NW.

I could not locate either Fern nor Malachi in the 1940 census. Malachi served in the Navy from 1943-1946. However we were not inolved in WW2 in 1940, so I don’t know why they don’t show up. In the 1950 census they were living at 2202 13th St and it appears Malachi was not working. Fern seemed to have a job as an elevator operator for a government building. Their niece, Fannie Waddy was living with them and she was a 27 year old clerk typist for the Veterans department. From what I could tell, the two had no children.

The Taylors seemed to own a few properties in DC and elsewhere. In addition to 134 Q St NW, they owned 1201-1203 Euclid Street NW in Columbia Heights, and another that no longer exists in the U St area between W, 13th and 14th Streets NW and Florida Avenue. I located a September 1993 (after both had died) tax lien sale for property in Atlantic City, NJ.

Memory Lane- New York/M Street Firehouse

211 M St NW. Taken August 28, 2004 or 2005

This is a close up of the old firehouse at 219 M Street NW, but it could just as well be on New York Avenue NW. Twenty years ago neighborhood had a lot of great historical assets that were being neglected or not kept up. This was one of them.

Currently the firehouse is a fitness gym called Flex, and this is their DC location. I think prior to that it was a parkour gym.

WSIC-1950 Sell Off- 138 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 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.

photo of property

Let’s see what happens with 138 Q St NW:

  • December 1950 (recorded Jan 18, 1951) Evans, Levin and Taube sold one-half of 138 Q NW to Duvall and Marion Tyler.
  • December 1950 (recorded Jan 18, 1951) the Duvalls borrowed $3,000 from Colonial Investment Co. favorite trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • February 1951 Evans, Levin, and Taube sold the other half of 138 Q St NW to Mrs. Thelma B. Harris.
  • February 1951 Harris borrowed $3,150 from trustees Abraham H. Levin and Robert G. Weightman.
  • February 1955 Mrs. Harris lost her property to foreclosure and the property returned to Evans, Levin, and Taube via an auction.
  • August 1955 the Duvalls lost their property to foreclosure and the property returned to Evans, Levin, and Taube via an auction.
  • March 1959 the property, as part of a larger package, was sold to Sophia and George Basiliko.
  • July 1970, in document 1970011877, Sophia and George Basiliko sold this and other properties on the block to the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency.
  • July 1978 is the recorded date for document 7800024140 which is a contract between RLA and the Bates Street Associates, Incorporated. It’s 30 incomplete pages.

Well.

That didn’t take long. Doing these WSIC-1950 Sell Off histories I am getting the impression that Black buyers were set up for failure. The number of foreclosures that keep popping up with these histories are just depressing. When I was just doing Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle  (remember I’ll be presenting on this topic April 6th at the DC History Conference), foreclosures did not pop up often. It happened. But more often property was purchased, then sold or inherited then sold.

Who were the Tylers?

Duvall Tyler was born November 25, 1907 in Amherst, VA. He married Marion Robinson who was born around 1905 in Washington, DC.  At the start of WWII Duvall worked for Dr. Overholt at St. Elizabeth Hospital. In the 1950 census he worked as a cook at a hospital. In the 1950 Duvall was the head of the family living at 1760 Bruce Place. Wife Marion was home keeping house. Eighteen and 17 year old sons Duvall Jr. and Morris D. were kitchen helpers at the hospital. Five year old Joseph B. was obviously unemployed.

Who was Thelma B. Harris?

I dunno. Unfortunately, she was separated when purchasing her half  of 138 Q St NW. So there is no other name I can attach her to in order to pull her data from all the other Thelma Harris in DC.

Memory Lane- BKK Closing-Now imagine it with chairs

I saw in PoP’s post that BKK is closing at the end of March. I decided to look in my old posts and see what I had to mark the occasion. It was about 13-14 years ago when this restaurant opened as the original Beau Thai. Then when they moved to 7th St, it was kept open as BKK.

I liked it better as Beau Thai. It was our go to place to get food when I was too lazy to cook. I loved their Pad Thai and Panang tofu (Thai X-ing had better but the spice levels starting getting off the charts for me). I see Thai X-ing has closed too. Maybe I’ll do another post for Taw Vigsittaboot’s venture.

For a gentrifying area, Beau Thai was what was needed. I remember, what was there before the building was renovated, was a greasy take out with plexi-glass. But I’m starting to doubt my memories, please correct me if I was wrong. This was a sit down place, with wait service, a step up from the options that we previously had. This plus Big Bear a short walk down R St NW just added more amenities to Truxton Circle residents.

The following was originally posted on August 17, 2010:

Well after work, went to Beau Thai at 1700 New Jersey Avenue NW and had me some Pad Thai. I’m full. It was good.
If you have an early menu the phone number is wrong. It seems the phone number is 205-377-5329. I asked about that 205 bit, but apparently it’s 205 and not 202. 202-536-5636
Any way, pad thai.
and

Beau Thai Co-owner Aschara Vigsittaboot behind the counter, August 2010

The food came fast as she’s got a couple of people in the kitchen, so she differs from her brother Taw (Thai X-ing) in that way. When asked about him, she mentions that he doesn’t have delivery but she hopes to do delivery soon.

1920 to 1930- White to Black- 1739 New Jersey Avenue NW

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. A bit of the ‘why’ can be found in The sell off of the 1700 block of New Jersey Ave NW.

As you might be able to see from the featured image at the very top. In 1920 there was no recorded tenant at 1739 New Jersey Ave NW for the 1920 census. Knowing these homes were sold to Black home owners in late 1920. and this home in particular to John Holmes Jr. who purchased the property September 23, 1920. So let’s go straight to him.

The Property History

In 1923 John and his wife Ida C. Holmes borrowed a fair amount of money. There were three back to back trusts (borrowing money). Two were with trustees Samuel A. Drury and James B. Nicholson for $3K and $1K at 7% APR. The third was a smaller loan with trustees William A. Bowie and Clarence M. DeVeile for $390 at 7%. Then a few months later in October 1923, the Holmes were released from their original 1920 loan with W. Wallace Chiswell and Harry A. Kite.

The Holmes did a fair amount of borrowing money in the 1920s and I will not recount them all.

October 1930 the Holmes sold their home to Leo Paul Conners. Connors transferred the ownership to his company Conners and Foster Inc., in 1932 and the property was merged with nearby lot 30 creating lot 89. The company kept the property in their hands until 1963.

Who Were the Holmes?

Information about the Holmes is scarce. They both appear in the 1930-1950 census together. Thankfully the Evening Star has filled some blanks.

John Holmes was born August 3, 1887 in Washington, DC. Ida was born in Maryland in August of 1884. As times change, so does her estimated birth year. In 1913 John Holmes Jr. married Ida C. Bowman. Ida was the adopted or foster daughter of Mary Jackson. Mary E. Wells was another foster daughter. Ida was an independent laundress when she married and continued in the profession at least to 1930.

In 1920, the couple was living with Benjamin Young, a US government laborer at 413 1st St SE, with Young’s niece Mary E. Wells, grandniece Beatrice Wells, niece Ida Holmes who is listed as an 8 year old, daughter Thelma Hawkins, roomer John Holmes (not nephew in law?) and roomer Mary Jackson. In the previous census, Young was Jackson’s boarder at 404 B St SE. In 1920 John was a laborer working for the railroad.

So we know from the land records the Holmes left the Young household to form their own in Truxton Circle in Fall/Winter of 1920. The couple had their son John Jr. (making the elder John a Sr.) in 1922. They had another child in 1927 who only lived for 20 minutes. In 1930 they were pm New Jersey Ave living with their son, John A Holmes, Mary E. Wells, and lodgers Mary Winston and Thelma Brooks (she does not appear to be Thelma Hawkins).

In 1940 the family were renting a home at 509 S St. John was still a laborer working in the transportation industry. He lived with Ida, their son John, and Mary and Beatrice Wells.

In 1950 it was just John and Ida at 2415 E St NW. In their 60s, Ida kept house and John worked as a janitor for an apartment building.  January 23, 1961 John died.