WSIC- Owner of Sq. 552- Lycurgus and Sallie Adams

After writing about wealthy out of state owners with the name Eustis, I didn’t want to try to hunt down the other owners. But one owner had an unusual enough name that I figured why not. Lycurgus and Sallie Adams owned a part of lot 26 on Sq. 552. Lot 26, according to the 1902/1903 General Assessment lot 26 was in 4 parts. Lycurgus and Sallie owned a western lot. George W. Adams owned a portion of the lot with a structure on it. Levi Adams owned an eastern section. Edmund G. Hines owned a portion along the alley.


Lycurgus, also Licurits/ Lycurkus Adams was born around 1842-1844 and died in March 1922 in Prince George’s County, MD. He was an African American born to Josaiah and Elizabeth Adams in Maryland. He was drafted, but it doesn’t look like he served in the Civil War.

It appears that he was born and raised in Bladensburg, MD and he lived there and died there. He did wander into Washington, DC to get married to Sallie Nash (Mash?) in June 1887. He was a farmer, who owned his own land and lived on River Road.

His last will and testament, gives a sense of who another Adams was who also owned parts of lot 26. Levi Adams was his brother. His will directs that his DC property be sold upon his death. According to a search of the Evening Star, his executor Marion Duckett, did that the following year of his death in September in a public auction. Of a side note the farm he left his son, Joseph E. Beaman Adams of 907 Westminster St NW advertised to sell those 18 acres in October 1923.  Lycurgus’ lot was sold to William Adams at auction. It is unclear how William was related, if at all.


WSIC- Owners of Sq 552-Marie Clarice Eustis and Louise Eustis Hitchcock

In all honesty, I have zero to negative interest in these two women, so let me just get through this.

At some point in time between 1903 and 1909 the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) purchased lots from these women so they could add Sq 552 to their project. Mary Clarice Eustis owned lots 15-23, and Louis Eustis Hitchcock owned lots 9-14 and 24. I’m going to guess these were nothing more than investment properties for them.


Who was Marie Clarice Eustis? Marie Clarice Eustis Hofmann was born Marie Clarice Eustis in New Orleans in 1866, if I have the right woman. She was the daughter of Senator George Biddle Eustis and Ellen Buckner Eustis. In 1887 she married her 1st cousin (ewwww) George Peabody Eustis Corcoran, the brother of Louis Eustis Hitchcock. They divorced and in 1905 she married Polish pianist, composer, and inventor Josef Hofmann. They divorced in 1924. She eventually died in 1956 at the age of 90 in Aiken, SC.

Louise Hitchcock Image 1Her cousin Louise Marie Eustis was born in Cannes, France in 1867 to George Eustis and Louise Morris Corcoran Eustis (daughter of WW Corcoran of the famous Corcoran Gallery). She married polo player Thomas Hitchcock Jr in 1891. They both loved horses. They had four children Celestine E. Hitchcock Peabody (1892 –1935), Helen Louise Eustis Hitchcock Clark (1898–1979), Thomas Hitchcock (1900–1944) and Frank Center Eustis Hitchcock (1908–1957). She died in an accident in 1934 in Aiken, SC at the age of 66.

WSIC- Property Owner of Sq. 552- William R. Riley

When looking at the General Assessment for 1902/1903 one of the biggest property owner for the block bounded by 3rd, Q, 1st and P St NW, Sq. 552, Wm. R. Riley, not the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC). WSIC’s time will come later.

William R. Riley owned lots 1-2, 4-6, and 29-32.


Who was William Robinson Smith Riley? He was born July 19, 1817 in Appomattox County, VA and died in DC on January 15, 1893.

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According to his obituary published in the Evening star. January 16, 1893, page 6:

William R. Riley Dead
A Well-Known Citizen Expires After a Short Illness

In the death of Mr. Wm. R. Riley this city loses one of its substantial citizens. His death occurred yesterday at his late residence, No. 7 Iowa Circle [Now Logan Circle]. Mr. Riley had reached the advanced age of seventy-five years. He was, however, a man of active habits, and while not exactly vigorous, yet he was seldom ill. His last sickness lasted only six days. On Monday just a week ago he was taken sick in his office in the Riley building, 9th and E streets. He was removed to his residence and by Thursday pneumonia developed which resulted in his death at 1 o’clock yesterday.
He had planned to leave for Florida today where his wife was staying. Mrs. Riley was at once informed of the illness of her husband and reached home Saturday morning. Mr. Riley had spent practically all his life in this city. He came here with his father from his birthplace in Accomac, Va., when only four years of age. When quite young he entered a dry-goods’ house as a clerk, and when still a young man he became the owner of the store in which he had started in life as a clerk.
The same business ability which marked his early career enabled him to amass a considerable fortune. He was identified with a number of the substantial business enterprises of the city.
He was the founder of the Arlington Fire Insurance Company, and a director in that company at the time of his death. For a number of years he was one of the directors of the Washington Gas Light Company. He established the West End Bank and until recently was the president.
He was a member of the old city council, was connected with Columbia Lodge of Odd Fellows, and was an active member of Ascension Church.
Six children survive him, two sons and four daughters.
The funeral services will be held at the Church of the Ascension Wednesday morning at 11 o’clock, and Rev. John H. Elliot will officiate. The interment will be in the family lot in Congressional cemetery. Continue reading WSIC- Property Owner of Sq. 552- William R. Riley

MLK- Make the ghetto go away, and work together

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I will post a few words from a speech he gave while visiting the Shaw neighborhood back in 1967.

Of course, we all recognize that if we are ultimately to improve psychological and physical conditions for minorities there must be total elimination of ghettoes and the establishment of a truly integrated society. In the meantime, however, all those working for economic and social justice are forced to address themselves to interim programs which, while not totally changing the situation, will nevertheless bring about improvement in the lives of those forced to live in ghettoes. And so, whiel [sic] many of those steps may lead to limited integration, those which do not must clearly be seen as interim steps until the objective situation makes a more fundamental approach.

and later

… Labor, Housing and the Office of Economic Opportunity, ought to work with the people of Shaw in developing, coordinating and concentrating their various programs upon social and economic problems of this area.

-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking at a March 13, 1967 rally for Shaw


I hope that reading this one can see the importance of integration. Segregating off into little ethnic and racial neighborhoods separate from other residents is not good for us as a whole. We need to unite and work together for the good.

WSIC- Owners of Sq. 552 in 1902

In my last post about the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company I noticed that the WSIC owned Sq 615 but not 552, yet. By 1909, it looked like they took 552 over, with a few holdouts. In 1903, there were 32 lots.

In the 1880 census there were about 11 households on the whole block. Then in 1900 there were about 25 households, nine of those were home owners.



Lot                Owners
1                 William R. Riley
2                 William R. Riley
3                 Jos. E & Sallie B. Roach
4                 William R. Riley
5                 William R. Riley
6                 William R. Riley
7                  Mary E. Hess
8                  Baptist Home of D.C.
9                  Louise Eustis Hitchcock
10                Louise Eustis Hitchcock
11                Louise Eustis Hitchcock
12                Louise Eustis Hitchcock
13                Louise Eustis Hitchcock
14                Louise Eustis Hitchcock
15                Marie  Clarice Eustis
16                Marie  Clarice Eustis
17                Marie  Clarice Eustis
18                Marie Clarice Eustis
19                Marie Clarice Eustis
20                Marie Clarice Eustis
21                Marie Clarice Eustis
22                Marie Clarice Eustis
23                Marie Clarice Eustis
24                Louise Eustis Hitchcock
25                Revere R. Gurley/DeWitt C. Chadwick/ Mollie Phillips/ Alice L. Wyckoff Trust/ Phoebe Hamilton
26                 Lycurgus & Sally Adams/ George Adams/ Levi Adams/ Edmund G. Hines
27               Frederick B. Jones/ Jas. B. Nourse & C.M. Jones Trustees
28               Robert A. Golden
29                William R. Riley
30                William R. Riley
31                William R. Riley
32                William R. Riley

It appears the main owners were William R. Riley, Louise Eustis Hitchcock, Marie Clarice Eustis, and the Adams family. Other owners of interest are the owners of lots 3 and 28, the last lots to be divided and developed. We’ll look at these people and see if there is any connection with the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company, the organization that will eventually own their land.

WSIC Did Not Own Square 552 in 1902

So enough procrastinating, let’s get into the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) role in making the blocks that are bounded by Q, North Cap, P and 3rd Streets NW. Those would be Squares 552 and 615. Because of George Kober’s The History and Development of the Housing Movement in the City of Washington, DC ( 1907) we know they were building housing in the early aughts.

But the WSIC didn’t own all of the block, so in order to figure out which lots on those two blocks to look at I went to the General Land Assessment Files, 1902-1938, and looked at 1902/1903 Assessments. Because 552 comes before 615, I looked at that first. I did not see WSIC mentioned, at all. I was confused. If I had just looked at the Sq 552 map at, I would have seen why.

Hopkins Map, 1887 of Square 552, bounded by 3rd, Q, 1st and p Sts NW.

Bates Street did not exist in 1887 nor apparently 1902.

Source- Baist, Library of Congress. 1903 map of Sq. 552

I also compared the 1902/1903 assessments to the 1933/1934 assessments and there were a whole different set of lot numbers. For Square 552 in 1902/1903, there were lots 1-32, as you can see from the images above.

1909 Color-Source- Baist, Library of Congress.

By 1909, when the above image was mapped, the whole character of the block changed. There appears to have been a few hold outs, with lots 3 and 28. By 1933 they had been absorbed.

In the back of my head, I am wondering if any strong arming was involved to convince owners to sell. Well, that would be something to explore in my next post, where I look at the 1902/1903 property owners.

Not a charity but capitalist enterprise- Washington Sanitary Improvement Co

Below is an old post that was originally posted on January 30, 2009. For this deep dive into the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company, I will look at the few posts where we looked at the WSIC but then I will look at the land and other records about the squares 552 and 615.

When last I left I was writing about the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) which built the houses along Bates Street NW, and some other streets in the TC that are somewhat Bates adjacent, around the turn of the century. You know they are built by the same company because their 2nd story bay window thing.
Anyway, the WSIC’s goal was to replace the slum dwellings in the various alleys, but as a profitable company and not a charity. From The History and Development of the Housing Movement in the City of Washington, D.C. page 61, Article III, section 4:

The company, although organized from philanthropic motives, is not a charity organization, and the executive committee shall take all legal measures to collect rents and to evict tenants who fail to pay their rent, or who neglect to keep the tenements occupied by them in a cleanly and sanitary condition, or who lead a dissolute or criminal life.

Another thing, as part of the pitch to draw interest in the company the author and secretary of the company George M. Kobr writes:

The attention of capitalists should be drawn to the fact that no class of realty pays as well as alley property in this city, and that there is a splendid field for investment in the erection of sanitary and comfortable alley houses on a business and humanitarian basis.
–page 23

Don’t blame me for a fuzzy photo

I’m looking at older posts on the topic of the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company because I’ll be taking a deeper dive looking at the two squares owned by the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) Sq. 552 and 615. These squares are  bounded by 1st Street, P St, 3rd St, and Q St. NW.
So here is the 2009 post below:

This was taken with an iphone in a lowly lit room at the Library of Congress from a book, while I held the pages down with one hand and took the pictures with the other. Now why are you looking at a fuzzy photo of a bunch of houses? This is the unit block of Bates Street, when the houses were somewhat new in 1907.
The photo, as well as some others I took are from The History and Development of the Housing Movement in the City of Washington, D.C. published by the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company, which built the houses. The book starts off talking about unsanitary crappy housing in DC and how the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) was building alternatives to slummy housing, specifically crappy alley housing. Towards the middle of the book they start talking a bit more about the company as an investment. The directors consisted of the following:
David J. Brewer
Charles C. Cole
John W. Foster
Charles J. Bell
George Truesdell
Gardiner G. Hubbard
Anthony Pollok
Walter Wyman
Henry F. Blount
Mrs. George Westinghouse
Crosby S. Noyes
George H. Harries
William J. Boardman
William C. Woodward
Augustus S. Worthington
Henry Y. Satterlee
George L. Andrews
Bernard T. Janney
Mrs. Clara G. Addison
Willliam C. Whittemore
G. Lloyd Magruder
Joseph C. Breckinridge
Marcus Baker
Katherine Hosmer
Charles E. Foster
Simon Wolf
George M. Sternberg
S. Walter Woodward
George M. Kober
John Joy Edson
Maybe more later. Or not.

Rando Truxton History- Fine Home at Low Rent – WP July 25, 1915

I’m trying to clean up a bunch of papers I have. I hope I can be brave enough to toss them into the recycling bin. One piece of paper is something I got from the Washington Post archives via ProQuest.

Fine Home At Low Rent: Bates Street Buildings Erected for Wage Earners, Are Up to Date: Sanitation Was One of Chief Aims of Washington Company Which Has Erected Them, is an article from July 25, 1915 on page RE5. The short of it is an article about the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) having built homes for unskilled laborers, the workforce housing of 100 years ago.

The paper sells the WSIC as a good investment providing housing $10 for 3 rooms and a bath and $12 a month for 4 rooms and a bath. There are other units to rented at $7.50 and $8.50 a month for two rooms and a bath. These homes are on Bates Street NW.

Because of copyright, I’m not providing a copy here, but you can access the article via the DC Public Library. You will need your DC Library card to use this resource.

1957 Church Survey: John Wesley AME Church

This church is the one next to Le Diplomat.

Back in 1957 there was a survey of churches in the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, a precursor to the Shaw Urban Renewal Area, and John Wesley AME was one of the churches surveyed. 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

John Wesley AME is still at the corner of Corcoran and 14th St NW at 1615 14th St NW. It is still a Black church. However there has been a slight name change, they added Zion after AME. Their church history doesn’t tell when the name change came about.

In 1957, John Wesley AME was a big church claiming 4,000 members. With most of those members living in other parts of NW Washington, DC.

CS 24 John Wesley AME by Mm Inshaw