Not a charity but capitalist enterprise

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

Bates circa 1907
Originally uploaded by In Shaw

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.

Slum dwellers and eco-lifestyle types

As I write this I’ll admit I’m have a little trouble putting the idea in my head in any sort of format that makes sense in written form. So bear with me or skip it entirely.
Both have things in common. As I look over the early and mid twentieth century Washington Post articles descriptions of life in slums there are some small similarities with the eco-friendly low energy use folks I admire.
The modern American uses a lot of clean water. If you leave the tap going while you brush your teeth, that’s probably a gallon going down the drain there. Flushing the toilet, that uses a couple or 3 gallons, more if not everything goes down. And we can do this because of indoor plumbing, wonderful, wonderful indoor plumbing. Tucked away in some eco-media zines and sites are compostable toilets and other contraptions to help reduce water usage. If you don’t have indoor plumbing it is a pretty good guess that’s you’re not going to be using a lot of water if you have to trudge out to a common source to grab it.
Mother gave me a decent description of a rural outhouse’s workings. However, I’m still baffled by an urban outhouse, such as the ones in historical Shaw. Is it hooked up to the sewer system? Is it a regular toilet in essentially a tool shed?
Another aspect of slum life was lack of electricity in some homes and the strong use of kerosene. In an article*, a slum dwelling wood and ice man was lamenting in 1954 how he was going to be put out of a job because people were going to refrigerators. Before you had the ice box, where you would have a huge block of ice, in a box, to keep food cold. Think of it as a cooler with a door. So not every place was hooked up with enough electricity to support a fridge and I noticed a lot of kerosene usage. Kerosene to light lamps. Kerosene to heat the homes. Kerosene to use for cooking heat. Kerosene is one energy alternative, but seems like a sure way to burn your house down. Wood was still in use as a cooking and heating fuel, as well. Kerosene isn’t eco-friendly, like water, if you have to haul it home, and you’re probably more conscious of its use.
Wen asking mom about heat she said the house was heated with the stove and at night the stove was off or out, so they bundled up at night. You had several layers and a blanket and a sibling sharing the bed to keep warm.
Why am I trying to tie slum dwellers and eco-living together? Well it was some small similarities such as the low energy and water usage that I kept noticing. However the big difference in that area is that one uses less because of economics and the other uses less because of choice, which then impacts other areas of ones’ quality of life. And with the passage of time and enforcement of building codes, indoor plumbing and electricity help, however the other scourges of slum life, crime, poor education, overcrowding, unemployment, remain.

*No. 2 Leads City in :WASHINGTON’S WICKEDEST, THE SECOND PRECINCT by S.L. Fishbein Post Reporter March 14 1954. The Washington Post.

Living with no running water

I was doing a bit of background for the blog looking at the series of articles on the “Wickedest Precinct” regarding slum conditions. A big thing that made it slummy, besides the trash, poorly maintained housing, and crime, there was the lack of indoor plumbing and sometimes lack of electricity.
I called up the Great and All Powerful Mom, my mother, since she has a) lived in a house with no indoor plumbing and b) does not turn on the selective memory (like some old folks) to get a better sense of life without running water. Growing up in the country they had a well, from where they got their water from. To bathe they would get a bucket of water, heat it on the stove, and use a bath towel to clean. For the toilet they had an outhouse. I asked about using the toilet. There was the outhouse and at night there was the chamber pot or bucket, which got emptied each morning. Please note how labor intensive things are. Imagine washing clothes and dishes, when everytime you need water, you have to pull it from the well.
I thank G-d for hot showers and flushing toilets. Yes, I understand that a good portion of the world doesn’t have those things, which just makes me more appreciative.
But back to Shaw, and details of our slummy history.
In the Washington Post series on the “Wickedest Precinct” in S.L. Fishburn in a March 14, 1954 article “No. 2 Leads City in Vice and Violence” there is a photo showing a woman getting water from an alley spigot. We are told by the caption that it is her only water source. I know from other documentation that it is more than likely true for her and hundreds of other households in the Shaw region in the 50s. There is another photo showing where the outhouse in a sort of lean-to where there is a board to walk on, to walk over the seepage.
Before I close up there is a jewel I want to quote:

The three-story Victorian eclectic mansion at 6th and M sts. nw., which stands out in sharp contrast to the squalor of the alleys behind it, was once the home of banker William Stickney, who served as president of Washington’s city council in 1871-74.
Today, with a still-fresh exterior, the mansion houses the church of Bishop C.M. “Daddy” Grace.

His church being the United House of Prayer for All People, UHOP, a presence in the Shaw and Mt. Vernon Sq. neighborhoods.

The Wickedest Precinct- #1 in Drunks

In the 50s the Washington Post dubbed the 2nd Police Precinct as the ‘Wickedest Precinct’. The 2nd Precinct mostly was what we know as Shaw. It went from K Street NW on the south, the Union Station tracks on the east, Florida Ave NE to North Capitol then S Street NW to the north and 15th St NW to the west.
In “Illegal Liquor Sales An Industry in No. 2 :2d Precinct 1st in Drunks.” by S.L. Fishbein (March 17, 1954) The Washington Post p.1 there is a lovely map (sorry I don’t have a copy to provide to you) showing where there were illegal liquor sales busts and there is a big ol’ splotch of 1953 busts at 5th and Neal Place. I’m trying to think if Neal Place is still there, it’s where the Co-ops are now. There’s a smaller splotch between S and Rhode Island Ave between what looks to be 6th and 7th St. NW. Somewhere around there was a place called Glicks Alley. Anyone have an idea where that was exactly? Is it the unnamed alley between those modernist Susan Reitag buildings? I can find out in time, but I may as well ask.
The only Shaw mention in the article is the mention of Shaw Jr. High students who had the joy of walking past the drunks in the alley as they cut through to get to school.
There is something about ‘gill joints’ but I’ll write about that later.

January 8, 1905

From the Washington Post/ Star under “Social and Personal– Gay Season Open Until After Inauguration” pg E8[grumble] I bet their streets weren’t blocked[/grumble]

Mr. And Mrs. Thomas D. Schnopp entertained a number of friends at their residence, 318 Florida avenue northwest, last Monday evening, the occassion being a New Year’s party. During the evening a pleasing programme, consisting of vocal and instrumental solos, were rendered by well known talent. At 10:30 the assembled company repaired to the dining room, where a generous repast was served. The decorations consisted of palms, ferns, and cut flowers, the whole making a pretty effect. Those present were Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ruppert, Miss Florina Ruppert, Mr. John T. Schnopp, Mrs. Ellis, Mr. and Mrs. George Glorius, the Misses Glorius, …

Longtime readers may realize that the Glorius’ didn’t have far to walk. Barely 1 block. Also I wonder what kind of one hick town DC was if your little dinner party is getting reported. Today such a gathering would barely be noted as a noise complaint.
Speaking of history there is a newish blog/website about the criminal and quirky DC of the past.

Buy a church for your new home

This place has been on the market for a while and I do wish I could find a non MRIS picture, but 1641 4th St NW is up for sale. According to a 1957 study of NorthWest 1 churches, it served as a house church. That’s sort of like a storefront church, but instead of a store, worshipers used a house. Up until last year or two years ago, a small sign reading “Faith Temple” was near the door of this house.
A few years ago, I swear there were more of these little house churches around the hood. I remember years ago walking around 1st and Bates and hearing a woman preaching, well saying words loudly in a rhythm similar to preaching. That’s gone now. There is a house church on the corner of 3rd and P. The building looks nice and seems to be well kept every time I pass by. I do have a pciture of that.
The Redfin ad for 1641 4th St, the former Faith Temple, says it has the original wood floors and looking at the pictures it looks like it has a lot of original stuff. I can see how the layout can serve a small number of people.
Now that I think of it, I have attended an Eastern Orthodox service in a converted rowhouse in Columbia Heights. While there I was paying more attention to the fact they had chairs, than the normal, non-churchy windows. Depending on the size of the congregation, a house can work for worship purposes and neighbors like it if worship does not require drums, electric bass and amps.

DC Police Districts

DcPoliceDistricts.jpgIf you can make this map out, it is the police districts for the city, circa 1900-1950-ish. I’m betting 1930. This is once again another sad tale of where I copy stuff and completely fail to note where I got it from exactly.
I know this much, I got it from the Census. The image is sitting on my computer in PDF form and the dates and all sorts of wonderful information would be revealed if I could remember what folder on what drive it sits.

If you see me, give me .50c

There is research I can do for free, and nearly free. Following the chatter on the Eckington list about I went to look at the 1929 city directory for eye-talian names. Well, it cost me two quarters to get a sheet copied properly. I’m annoyed, ’cause that’s kinda pricey. I’m okay with a dime a copy, .15 cents a copy, but not a quarter a copy, especially when the copier cuts off a lot on the 1st try.
Anyway, I’m not listing all the names, nor am I scanning it anytime soon. But yes, there were Italians on North Capitol, if I go by names. There were some non-Italian names like Charles Quong, laundryman, at 1518 and H. Lee another laundryperson at 1412. But you want Italian examples. Don’t you? Ok. At 1410 N. Cap lived Carmelo Puleo, 1420 Venuto Salvatore, and at 1416 Fortunato Figliozzi, a barber. As far as I can tell the other two guys were shiftless unemployed layabouts.
Just as a tad of info if you’re looking at the 1930 census Mr. Quong is in the 42nd Enumeration district, page 11B, roll 293. Puleo or Pulis (as listed in 1930 census) is in enumeration district 39, and must have had some employment to take care of those 4 kids of his.