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.

I guess a parking lot landed on this. Then a Convention Center. Mt. Vernon Square 1968?

This is supposed to be 8th Street NW looking north. Now, in the background you will see the top of Immaculate Conception Church. However, the little house in the middle of the block with the porch looks, awfully familiar. It makes me think this was mislabeled.

If it wasn’t then this is in Mount Vernon Square and was leveled to make a parking lot. Which then became the current Convention Center.

Any thoughts?

1957 Church Survey: Galbraith AME Church

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the Union Station area. One of the churches was Galbraith AME Church, now Galbraith AME Zion Church. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

CS 21 Galbraith AME by Mm Inshaw

 The church sits at 1114 6th St NW. Is it in Shaw? Is it in Mt. Vernon Square? Sure, yes.

Anyway, this was a Black church with a large white collar membership who did not live in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area.

1957 Church Survey: Mt. Vernon Place Methodist- Rando Church Near Shaw

In 1957 there was as survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which included Shaw, Downtown, and the area we’ll call Swampoodle.  To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

photo of property

The church we have here is Mt. Vernon Square Methodist located at 900 Massachusetts Ave NW. Like it’s building it was a big white church. It boasted of having 4,000 members in 1957 and they were white. Looking at their website, it looks like they are still majority white.

Looking at the 1957 demographics this was a middle to upper middle class church. Most of the people were white collar workers (71%), and most lived outside of the urban renewal area in other parts of Washington, DC (58%). There was also a chunk of membership who lived in the ‘burbs of MD and VA (32%). Financially, they looked pretty good with $6,000 in expenses and a $233,000 budget ($2.7 million in 2021 dollars).

CS-26-Mt Vernon Place Metho… by Mm Inshaw


Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Mary Armistead -1223 NJ Ave NW

This is part of a long series of posts about African Americans who were home owners in the Truxton Circle neighborhood.

In the 1920 census Mary Armistead is listed as a doctor. According to the census she lived at 1223 New Jersey Ave NW with her cousin Mary E. Griffin, a widowed teacher, Sarah Tolliver, another widowed cousin, and boarders, the Martin family and Ester AB Popel.

photo of property

There aren’t a lot of land records for this property. The first record is a release from 1923, listing Mary E. Armistead and her cousin Mary E. Griffin as joint tenants. The release was for an August 1917 debt with a trustee. The next record is a 1951 trust. From the document we are told Mary E. Griffin was deceased (and we can assume so is the unnamed Mary E. Armistead) and Mabel A. Griffin Lewis was the owner. Ms. Griffin-Lewis borrowed $3000 from the National Savings and Trust Company. Griffin-Lewis died and her executor Beulah J Murphy sold the property in 1978.

According to the 1919 city directory, Mary Armistead was a midwife and the widow of Howard M. Armistead (former Government Printing Office worker). According to FindaGrave her obit read as:

Evening Star
Washington, DC
30 Aug 1934

ARMISTEAD, MARY E. On Tuesday. August 28, 1934, at her residence, 1223 New Jersey ave, n.w.. MARY E. ARMISTEAD, widow of Howard M. Armistead, devoted sister of J. Randolph Minor and James L. Minor, cousin of Mary E Griffin. She is also survived by many other relatives and friends. Remains resting at the John T. Rhines funeral chapel. 3rd and Eye sts. s.w., until Thursday evening: thereafter at her late residence. Funeral Friday, August 31, at 1 pm. from Israel C M E. Church, New Jersey ave. and Morgan st..n.w. Interment Woodlawn Cemetery.

In the 1910 census she was working in the medical field in Obstetrics and living at 1320 Montello Ave NE (Sq. 4064 lot 0037) in a house she owned. So back to the land records to see what other properties she owned and I found 317 10th St SE (Sq. 0945 lot 0823/007) in the Eastern Market area.

If she used her maiden name as a middle initial she could be the same Mary M. Armistead who is listed as a registered midwife in the Report of the Health Officer By District of Columbia. Health Department · 1895 working out of 1343 K St SE.

Sorry this post is all over the place. I went down the wrong rabbit hole chasing this woman.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Rev. Alfred J. Tyler- 67 N St NW

Normally, I pick the name of a Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle, and try to track their life in this DC neighborhood. Why? Because I have picked Truxton Circle as a place to study and I’m going to study this ‘hood into the ground. This post looks at Alfred J. Tyler, who according to the 1920 census lived at 67 N St NW.

photo of property

Sometimes, I decide to do a Google or ProQuest search if I think the person may have been more than a normal citizen. Search and ye shall receive. Rev. Alfred J. Tyler is mentioned in Mount Horeb Baptist Church’s history:Reverends Alfred J. Tyler (1902-1903), Marzy V. Morris (1904), and J. T. Clark (1904–1916) served as the fifth, sixth, and seventh pastors of Mount Horeb. ” He also shows up in a church history for Mt. Airy Baptist Church: “On June 1, 1906, Rev. Alfred J. Tyler, formerly of the Bethlehem Baptist Church of
McKeesport, PA, was installed as Pastor. He found the church again in need of larger quarters and led the congregation in a building program. Groundbreaking for a new edifice occurred in September 1925, and “A Monument to Jesus” was erected. After 30 years of toil and preaching, Rev. A. J. Tyler went to his rest.

[Mari head tilts] I wonder if Mt. Airy knew of his very short stint with Mt. Horeb?

Little matter. The next paragraph reads: “On February 18, 1937, one of the sons of the former Pastor, Rev. Earl K. Tyler, was unanimously elected Pastor. This young preacher quickly brought new congregants into the church and good works continued. Rev. E. K. Tyler organized new clubs, sponsored a Sunday School of over 350 children, and formed a “Junior Church,” attesting to his love of young people. Rev. Tyler licensed and ordained various sons of the church who went on to extend the influence of Mount Airy Baptist
Church throughout the city. Rev. Earl K. Tyler was called to his reward on May 13, 1955, after a pastorate of approximately 19 years.

From the church histories we know Rev. Tyler was in DC in the early 1900s. In the 1900 census the Tyler family was living in Allegheny, PA, where Alfred was already working as a preacher. He shows up at 67 N St NW in the 1910 census and the 1911 city directory. In the 1910 census he was shown as renting and living in the house with his wife, Sarah A. (nee Slaughter), his 69 year old mother Elizabeth, daughters Sadie B, and Annie E, and sons Allin J. and Earl K. He listed his occupation as a minister.

The earliest land record from the DC Recorder of Deeds online site (1921-Present) is an agreement from 1925. The agreement is between Alfred J. Tyler and the American Security and Trust Company where it appears Tyler had requested an extension on a note. The document notes that the initial promissory note dated back to September 1908. The next record is a September 1928 trust where Alfred and his wife Belle ( apparently Sarah is Belle) borrow $4000 through the Columbia Building Association. The next month they are two releases, both for 1908 debts, including the one with the American  Security and Trust Company.

In the end the Tylers lost the property due to the $4000 1928 debt in 1940. Rev. Tyler died in 1936, so this appears to be a failure of his estate. I will note an owner or two later in 1966, George Basiliko became an owner.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Buck and Lizzie Thomas- 65 N St NW

Welcome back to the Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle, where I pick the name of a Black home owner from the 1920 census who lived in Truxton Circle, a NW neighborhood in Washington DC, and research them.

photo of property

The Thomas don’t lend themselves to easy tracing in the Census and the land records don’t really help either. Buck doesn’t show up at all in the land records. The on-line land records starts around 1921, and the first thing for 65 N St NW is a 1928 trust between Lizzie Thomas and a trustee for $299.00 at 6% interest. This debit is paid off in 1936 and that is the last document with Lizzie’s name on it. The next document after that is a quit claim deed from 1944. In the deed it is claimed that his sister Birdie Anthony is the heir of Edgar Thomas (a son of Buck and Lizzie) according to his 1939 will. So she and her husband Percy Anthony transfer the property to Ruth Lucille Trent. This is followed by another deed in 1957 when the executor of Birdie Inez Anthony, Lottie Anthony Fambro, transfers the property to Ruth Lucille Trent.

Edgar Thomas was easier to locate in Ancestry. Through him I learned Lizzie was Lizzie and not short for Elizabeth. What I learned was Buck Thomas is too common of a name in Georgia.

The Thomas’ lived in the Atlanta Georgia area and are found in the 1900 census with their five children, Birdie, Willie, Ruth, Edgar and George. At that time they had been married for 21 years.  It’s hard to make out Buck’s occupation but it looks like cashier in a dead letter office. In the 1910 census they are living at 65 N Street NW with 4 of their children (Willie is not there), with Buck working as a messenger for some government department. By the time the 1920 census rolls around the Thomas’ are both 60 years old, living with only one son, George.

Edgar wound up living back at 65 N Street NW. On his WWI draft card, circa 1917/1918, he was living at 217A V St NW in Washington, married with child and working as a messenger for the State Department, which could have been the undecipherable government department where his father Buck was working. But by the Second World War, his draft card showed him back on N St, living with his sister Birdie Anthony, still working for the State Department. In between, in the 1920 and 1930 census he was living with his wife, Bessie C. and step-son, Arthur Brooks, at 1126 Girard St NW in a home he owned.

I couldn’t really locate Birdie Thomas Anthony, instead I searched her husband, Percy Paul Anthony. Percy was also from Georgia and in 1910 he was living with Birdie, and their 2 year old daughter Dorothy Inez, working as a tailor in Atlanta in a house he owned. In 1920 the Anthony’s moved up to DC and were renting from the Thomas’ at 65 N St with their 10 year old daughter, Lottie. In 1930, the Anthony family is living with the widow Lizzie and her adult son George (who is also working for the State Department), his wife and daughter Lottie I. For some reason Birdie is listed as Bertha. In 1940, Lizzie Thomas was 74 years old and still the head of the household. George was still single but didn’t appear to be employed. Edgar Thomas was working as a messenger for the government, as was Percy. However the Anthonys were downgraded from relatives to just lodgers in the 1940 census. I’ve seen this in other BHOoTC series posts, I don’t know why that was.

Yes, a lot of different people in this post. You may have needed a score card to keep track of them all. Thanks for sticking with me.

1957 Church Survey: Church of Ascension and St. Agnes

When I last visited Ascension & St. Agnes, many years ago, it was an Episcopal church offering a high church service. It is located at 1215 Massachusetts Ave NW.  It’s in Mt. Vernon Sq, but I’m going to count it as a Shaw church.

Anywho, this church was part of the 1957 Church Survey for a urban renewal area that got broken into other parts, such as Downtown and Shaw. To learn more about the 1957 Church Survey read my previous posts, The Uniqueness of the 1957 Church Survey and Church Survey Northwest Urban Renewal Area October 1957.

It was pretty much a White church when I visited and was so in 1957. It’s parish boundaries were pretty much that of the map above, but they said they drew their membership from all over the metro area, as the greatest bulk came from Maryland and Virginia.

CS-33-Church of Ascension a… by Mm Inshaw



Black Homeowners of Truxton Circle: Alexander White -212 N St NW

In this post we look at a Black man named Alexander S. White. He lived at 212 N St NW with his wife named Minnie B. and a roomer named Caddie Love, also a clerk (Mari raises a judgemental eyebrow).

photo of property

Alexander L. White born May 30, 1880. 1917/1918 was a Stenographer for the US Forest Service. This according to his WWI draft card.

Prior to the 1920 census in 1910 the White family lived at 2351 Champlin Av, with daughter Ida & sister in law Jennie L. Anderson.

Looking at the online land records (1921-2021-ish), the earliest set of documents are a set of deeds on February 1, 1923. In one part, Alexander and Minnie transfer the property to Benjamin Gaskins, who then turns around and transfers the property to Minnie and daughter Ida N.D. White. The property had a $2,400 debt at that time. Minnie borrowed $650 in 1924 and $500 in 1926 from trustees. In the 1924 trust, Minnie is described as the surviving tenant, and the 1926 trust describes her as unmarried.

In 1926, Ida and Minnie paid off a January 1921 debt taken out by Alexander and Minnie and the 1924 debt. Minnie takes on more debts with trustees. In 1934, she incurs a debt with the Washington Loan and Trust Company for $3000.

It appears Minnie lost possession of the property with a November 1937 trust, where she borrowed $225 from Ida and Isadore Schwartzman. There is a May 1938 trustees deed where the Schwartzmans transfer/sell the property to Warren T. Cathern. The Schwartzmans published a legal notice in the May 4, 1938 Washington Herald Newspaper. The property was in $3511 of debt. According to the trustees deed, Minnie was in default and failed to pay her debt.

Turning back to Ancestry, there is something interesting. From experience, there are many couples who happen to have the same name. I came across divorce records for an Alexander L. White from a Minnie B. White. The November 16, 1925 divorce decree is from Virginia and the persons are listed as white. The Whites were listed as Black in the 1910 & 1920 census. The chances are possible, IF the Whites were light enough to “pass” for white, or this was just a clerical error. The divorce is a little after Alexander’s name is removed from the property. The coincidences are too much to ignore. I initially listed Alexander’s middle initial as “S” as it is indexed for with the WWI draft card. I looked at the card again, and it is written in a way (cursive) that it could be a S or an L. I went back to the property records and he was listed as Alexander L. White.

The Whites marriage fell apart in 1921 (I wonder if Ms. Love had anything to do with it?). They got a divorce in Fairfax, VA, in 1925, claiming residency there. Alexander is listed as living in Rockville and he is the plaintiff in the matter. I can’t really make out the reason, but it looks like ‘desertion’. From the land records, Minnie B. White got the house and that transfer happened in 1923. It doesn’t look like desertion as it appears to be an agreed separation and dissolution.

Alexander moved on with his life. In September 1926 he married Nellie E. Davis. By the 1930 census Alexander and Nellie were living on Braddock Road in Fairfax county. He had taken up farming, but was still working as a clerk for the US Forest Service. Nellie, was also a clerk for the Department of Agriculture. The 66 year old retired Forest Service employee, Alexander Lindsey White, died April 2, 1947. Henry S. Washington and Sons at 467 N St NW in Washington, DC handled the funeral arrangements.

It’s very hard to say what became of Minnie White. Looking in the city directory it appears she left N St the year of her divorce. In the 1924 city directory she was living on N St, by 1925 she was elsewhere and replaced by a Jas. H. Johnson. There were about 4 Minnie Whites in DC, and no Ida N. Whites. There is a Minnie I suspect is the same Minnie B. White who was a laundress or cleaner of clothes, who in 1930 lived on N St near 8th St NW. But I’m not sure this is the same woman. And so ends the history on the Whites.

Black Home Owners of Truxton Circle: Benjamin Holland – 206 N St NW

In 1920 ’twas a man, a Black man, who operated in the business of chickens and owned a house on N St NW. His name. Benjamin Franklin Holland. Just say that name five times fast, sounds like a mantra.

Around 1917, he sold chicken at the market at O and N, right where the Giant Supermarket sits right now. He sold those chickees at stall #15, and I imagine that is where the previously frozen chicken sits in a chiller may have been.

photo of property

Sadly, his story is not a long one. We meet the poultry man in the 1920 census, living with his wife, Cecelia Valeria (formerly Jackson), their son Benjamin, and an aunt, Julia I. Davis. By the 1930 census, he’s dead and Cecelia V. Holland is a widow. At the age of 53, she was living with her 14 year old son Benjamin and roomer from the British West Indies, William A. Thomas.

Once again there is something in the land records that confuses me. There are the usual releases and trusts, the paying and borrowing from investors through trustees. It would help to know when exactly Ben Holland died because there is a 1929 deed with just his name, Cecelia is missing, selling the property to a Peter P. Richardson. Without Cecelia’s name on the deed, something looked off. February 17, 1930 Lottie and Peter Richardson transfer the property to Ester L. Jackson, who transfers it to Cecelia on the 19th. Also on 2/19/1930, Cecelia was advanced $2,100 from the Washington Permanent Building Association. In 1949 she borrowed again from teh Washington Permanent Building Association, for $2,500 and changed her name from Cecelia V. Holland to Cecelia V. Tildon. In 1952 Cecelia Tildon sold the property to the Seventh Realty Corp out of Delaware.