By James Croggon, The Evening Star, July 29, 1906 [pt. 4, p. 1]
North of the statue of Franklin, otherwise of Pennsylvania avenue and D street, between 10th and 11th streets, is not without interest even to those not to the manor born. Though few and far between were the habitations of man in the capital city until the last century was well advanced, that portion of the strip south of G street long since took on the dignity of a business and residential section. What with department clerks, tradesmen, mechanics, etc., a popular auction corner, yet such, and congenial residents, though there were a few taverns, it is easy to realize that the neighborhood near the avenue was a favorite stamping ground.
It need not be said that for the first quarter of the last century so much grass and weeds were to be seen in the streets that few could realize that such a city as the Washington of today was being evolved. With the stream which zigzagged down 11th street from north of F street, that from Franklin square coursing south of H street, and little of the building ground on the grade, progress in city building was somewhat retarded.
North of K street nature had kindly deposited much red gravel in a hill, by which foot walks came dirt cheap, digging, hauling and dumping only being required, and much of the paving north of G street prior to 1810 was thus made. It is stated by an old citizen that while the corporation value of ground was expressed in cents, the prices paid were based on the mill, and that at times land owners unloaded far below the corporation value.
Increase of Values
About the center of the square in the early part of the century was probably Washington’s first lace and trimming store, then conducted by Bragdon & Twombly, afterward by J.B. King & Bro. and Captain Joseph B. Tate & Bro. In the twenties there were on D street the properties of Thomas Booth, umbrella maker; John Tucker, bellhanger; James Newall, shoemaker, and in the forties J.K. Boyd, upholsterer, and P. McArdle, watchmaker; Pusley W. Simpson followed the grocery business near the corner of 11th street, where he was succeeded by Wm. Orme.
In 1817 Thomas Given, a carpenter and builder, long in charge of woodworking at the arsenal, had a shop valued at $200 on 11th street, and later a dwelling which was assessed at $1,000. In 1820 the house long occupied by the Hauptman family was in the name of Walter Smith, assessed at $2,200. Daniel Hauptman, who prior lived on the post office site, bought part of lot 5 and resided here long enough to see his sons old men following him in the tinning business. W. Fadermehle, Martin Guista and Mrs. Ann McGonigle owned parts of the same lot, the latter being assessed $400 for improvements. In 1800 Charles Glover owned the lot at the southeast corner of 11th and E streets, which in 1804 passed to George Downs and George Moore, and T.J. Mudd leased part, which in 1820 was taxed for a $400 improvement. T.J. Southerland, a treasury messenger, in 1813 bought part of this lot fronting E street, and was taxed on a $300 house. Stephen Pleasanton and Daniel Brent owned property, which before 1820 was in the name of ----- Willis assessed for a $100 building. In 1828 W.M. Cripps bought the property to which his name has been given and an $800 house was taxed in the thirties. Charles Lyons owned adjoining ground. J.B. White in 1816 and Nicholas Tastet in 1821 bought property on E street assessed at $400 and $900, respectively. On 10th street between D and E streets B.M. Belt, cabinetmaker; George Moore and A.J. Villard owned property, the house of Moore being assessed at $800 and the latter $1,800. South was a lot owned by G. Carusi in 1816 and by Francis Masi in 1826. Next south was a fine three-story house owned by Mrs. Ann McGonigle, assessed in 1820 at $4,350, and thus as Mrs. McG.’s tavern was a popular resort. In 1815 F.A. Wagler, a well-known musician, bought a lot north of D street, and five years later H. Thomas had a $700 house on it, and Mrs. McGonigle a building assessed at $150.
Walls Still Standing
The square north of F street bore a valuation of 6 to 8 cents per foot one hundred years ago, and had but one improvement, that belonging to Peter Lenox, whose valuation was raised from $150 to $400. To show that it has improved it is only necessary to say that the Boston House now covers the larger portion of the square. By 1820 the ground valuation had reached 10 to 20 cents per foot, and there were over $1,000 worth of improvements. The corner of 10th and F streets was then vacant, but adjoining on the west was the residence of Thomas H. Gillis, valued at $3,000. On 11th street Gen. Van Ness had a $400 building, and John McLeod had two buildings north, each valued at $2,500. The southwestern corner of 10th and G streets was in the name of Rev. Wm. Matthews of St. Patrick’s Church, and the lot contained a building valued at $1,800. In 1827, with a leasehold from Mr. McLeod, Father Mathews had half the square on which was another improvement valued at $3,000. In 1820 Berry & Forbes were taxed on a $3,000 building on 10th street, and Joseph Bryan was taxed $600. The property held by Father Mathews was for St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum, and it was so deeded in 1835. In the ‘40’s Dr. Flodoardo Howard, long a west-end druggist, located at the northeast corner of 11th and F streets, and practiced medicine for years. Dr. Howard was a local Methodist minister, a zealous temperance advocate, who erected a small hall for lectures and meetings to aid the cause. Equal Division Sons of Temperance long met here.
Land at 2 Cents Per Foot
Lewis Johnson, who founded the banking house bearing his name at 10th and the avenue, owned afterward the northeast corner of 11th and G streets and had a substantial residence there. John Waters, who served in the war of 1812, at its close leased a lot on 10th street above G street, on which he erected a comfortable frame residence and bought the fee simple in 1822. The late Josephus Waters, a son, died here a few years since, at a ripe age. In the ‘30’s Benjamin Williamson erected a row of two-story and basement frames, for the latter nature having made excavation unnecessary, and Williamson’s row was as well-known as was the grocery of Michael Sardo, erected at the southeast corner of 10th and H streets. Daniel Stewart was keeping a grocery about the same time at the corner of 11th and H streets.
Back in the Forties
On the square north of New York avenue and I street a half cent per foot was the ground valuation till well in the thirties, and in that decade the highest was 5 cents. The assessments for improvements then were J. Pickrell, $400, and H. Hunt, $100, the first on the lot at 10th street and New York avenue and the latter at 11th and I streets. The property of the first named, with $300 improvement, and the property of George Sweehy, with $150, were on 11th street. F. Jefferson had a house valued at $200 at the southeast corner of 11th and K streets, and James A. Kennedy had two $100 houses on the lot at the southwest corner of 10th and K streets. Pickrell’s building was at the corner of New York avenue and 10th street, and the Ager brothers, John E. and William conducted a store at the point of New York avenue and I street. “Ager’s grocery” designated the locality. About 1847 this took fire and scarcely a vestige of anything of value remained. Soon after George Seitz, a baker, bought the ground and erected a dwelling and bakery, removing from a store at the corner of I and 12th streets, and he and his son conducted business here half a century or more.
Some of the Residents
On 10th street going north were Luke Gardner, a dyer; Mrs. V. Moore, Mrs. McGonigle, who kept a tavern; R.W. Hinton, a tailor, and John Goddard, shoemaker, south of E street. John Chapman, bricklayer; Lyman H. Cobb, constable, lived between E and F streets; G. Andrew, a clerk, at the corner of G street; John Waters, market master, etc.; Edward Diggs, constable, and M. Kerr, printer, between G and H streets.
On 11th street northward from the avenue were Thomas Given, carpenter; Jonas Keller, instrument maker; Chas. Lyons, G. Crandall, D. Hudson, carpenters, south of E street; H. Burdick, Thomas Gibbons, carpenters; S. Goddard, hackman; F. Lydock, grocer, Henry Smith, master builder; Mary Nevitt, south of F street; John McLeod, school teacher, south of G street, C.H. Bestor, clerk; Mrs. Mary Barron, south of H street.
In the forties there were on D street Woodward & King’s stove and hardware store, Robert W. Dyer’s auction house at 10th street, and J.C. McGuire’s bookbindery, Bragdon & Twombly’s lace store, J.K. Boyd’s upholstery, P. Simpson’s grocery; P. McArdle, watchmaker and jeweler; K. Farnham’s book store, corner of 11th street, Benj. Homans, claim agent and auctioneer, Miss Ross, dressmaker.
On E street were John McClelland’s machine shop, at the corner of 10th street; Martin Johnson, clerk; T.E. Williams, grocer; Miss Lenox.
On F street Dr. Howard, at the corner of 11th street; Wm. B. Todd, hatter; W.D. Crumpsey, hatter; C.G. Klopfer, shoemaker; T.H. Gillis, clerk; Mrs. Hauptman, baker.
Residence of Postmaster General
On the corner of 11th and H streets lived Wm. Mann in the west house of the row, and on H street were Columbus McLeod, school teacher; R.P. Anderson, John Reily, agent; Richard France, Wm. Cleary, and on the corner of 11th street Daniel Stewart’s grocery.
North of New York avenue in I street were Ager’s grocery, Mrs. Hungerford’s boarding house, Mrs. Pickrell, the oldest settler of that section; George Seitz, baker; A. Gartrell, butcher; W.W. Goddard, watchman; James Thompson, grocer, the latter at 10th and K streets.
James Ferry, bricklayer, and T. Langley lived on L street near a gravel bank.
North of L street Samson Simms, a Georgetown builder, erected a row of frame houses about 1845, taking up his residence here. Oscar Alexander, a printer, and T.H. Alexander, a bricklayer, were among his first tenants, M.R. Combs, grocer; W.J. Douglas, painter; J.R. Barr, grocer; H.. Hare, engraver; T. Kisner, F. Neff, shoemaker; George Vonderlehr, stonemason; R. Bridget, coach maker; J. Haupt, stonecutter; Nicholas Snyder, blacksmith; John Shick, carpenter, and a man named Kidwell, a contractor for paving.
Northward from the avenue on 10th street were George M. Phillips, general agent; D.S. Porter, painter; W.H. Moore, Joseph Martin, cabinet-maker; George McDuel, watchmaker; J.S. Harvey, wood yard; W. Dougherty, marble yard; Mrs. Bronaugh’s boarding house; R. Brown, carpenter; James Wright, barber, and Mrs. Gregory, below E. street. W. Berman, professor of music; R.W. Brown, carpenter; William Greer, printer; Mrs. C. Lansdale, milliner, south of F street. Richard Lay of the city post office, F. Klopfer of Attorney General’s office, between F and G streets.
John Waters, market master, was at this time still at his old residence, and Benjamin Williamson, TJ. Mudd, carpenters; M. Sardo, grocer, between G and H streets. North of I street were John Varden, Columbus Denham, bookbinder, and Josiah Melvin, printer.
On the east side of 11th street north of the avenue was the residence of D. Hauptman, who had his tinning shop in the basement; W. Harris, carpenter; William M. Cripps, opposite his cabinet shop, south of E street. Mrs. Merica, Capt. J.A. Blake and Ferdinand Jefferson, printers; R. Lawrence, William Orme, a grocer; Mrs. Rumpf, Mrs. D. Simms, grocer; C. Wineburger, baker, and Mrs. Stewart, dealer in furniture at E street, were among the residents above that street. North of Dr. Howard’s, in the McLeod houses were Leonard Adams and James Greenwell, Miss Jullien, a teacher, and in the square above, north of Lewis Johnson’s, at G street, lived Richard and Charles Burgess, claim agents; Walter Stewart, B. Willett, Mrs. Butler, boarding house; D. Knipple, shoemaker; C.J. Fisher, a harness and trunk maker, and one or two others.