In The Early Years
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, November 17, 1906 [p. 10]
In the early years of the nineteenth century that portion of the city of Washington lying north of an avenue unnamed, as Louisiana avenue was then referred to on the plats, and east of 7th street and west of 6th street, developed slowly. The former street before 1825 showed some signs of its future business, there being a few stores south of E street, which, with lines of feed and groceries, attracted the country trade passing down that thoroughfare from Montgomery county to the market. Taverns furnished accommodations for man and beast.
Though Morris & Nicholson, James Greenleaf, the Pollocks, Uriah Forrest and others who, in other parts of Washington, had shown their hands in developing property, had interests in the particular section in question, they left no evidence of it. The proximity of Blogett's Hotel, afterward the Post Office Department; the expectation that 7th street would become a business thoroughfare and the convenience of the principal market doubtless helped this development of the neighborhood in the days of our grandfathers, slowly though it became settled.
The location of the Post Office Department northward about 1811, the proposed erection of the city hall eastward, with the proximity of the market, doubtless affected the square known as 45 between Louisiana avenue and D streets, 6th and 7th streets, but the century was well in its teens before improvement was seen. In the early plats there was only eight lots, and, with the exception of that at the southeast corner of 7th and D streets, all of them fronted on Louisiana avenue and D street and that at the east end of the square faced 6th street also. In the partition between Burns, the proprietor, and the government each took four lots.
Settlement Was Slow
The records of 1825 show that the ground had appreciated from 20 to 60 cents per foot, and a number of improvements had been made. On lots 1 and 2 there was assessed $1,900 to John Brannan, $4,000 to Ingle & Lindsley, and $1,800 and $2,400 to William Hunt; lot 3, $3,500 to J.M. Varnum and $450 to John Larcombe; lot 4, A. Tate, $1,700 and $80; A. Van Mannerck, lot 5, $1,200; A. Kerr, $1,000; T. Rice, $1,000 and E. Rice, lot 6, $2,400, E. DeKrafft and $1,000, J.C. Shindle; lot 7, $250, J. Gorman's heirs, $250, R. Drane, and $1,400 Raphael Jones.
Well-Known Boarding House
Mr. Varnum's holdings on Louisiana avenue were long in the family and several years ago were improved by a block of business houses. At the corner of 7th street and Louisiana avenue Edward DeKrafft established a printing office and book bindery. In the thirties James Hosier had a grocery at this corner, which later was Ober & Ryon's. Richard Drain, at the corner of 7th and D streets, kept a grocery, which later passed into the hands of John A. Donoho, and from about 1830 to the 50's it was a leading establishment. Particularly in political campaigns and on public occasions the proprietor made things lively with a drummer and fifer playing patriotic or political airs. About 1820 Mr. Solomon Drew, for many years a leading merchant tailor, came here from Alexandria and took a large three-story brick on the east side of 7th street and there established the Columbian Tavern and "gentlemen travelers" were informed that he "could accommodate them with good beds and boarding" and "dinners dressed at the shortest notice." Dr. Drew, after a few years settled in the square south, where he carried on tailoring for many years. The Columbian was afterward conducted by Robert Berry for several years. In the forties William Samuels was the boniface. In the twenties there was a tavern on Louisiana avenue kept by Mrs. Eliza Barry.
In the thirties $1 per foot was the valuation at the corner of 7th street and Louisiana avenue; 60 cents at 7th and D streets, 50 cents on 7th street and other fronts at 25 and 30 cents. The assessed valuation of improvements was; Lots 1 and 2, Brannan's heirs, $2,000; Hunt's heirs, $2,000; Ingle & Lindsley, $4,000; Hunt's heirs, $4,500; John Larcombe, $400; lot 4, Varnum's heirs, $3,500; Tate's heirs, $1,700; lots 6 and 7, subs 1 to 12, J. McCutcheon, $3,500; A. Kerr, $1,000; J.C. Shindle, $2,200; on Louisiana avenue, E. DeKrafft at the corner of Louisiana avenue and 7th street, $2,400; E. Rice, $1,000 and $2,500; A. Kerr, $1,100; Raphael Jones, $1,400; A. Kerr, $2,800, and John A. Donoho on 7th street, $2,000.
There were in the thirties, on D street, Mrs. Sarah Tate, John D. Boteler, gun and lock smith; John Brown, hackman; John Larcombe, carpenter; M. Reardon, constable; Mrs. Morrell, confectioner; William Martin, constable; Mrs. Hardy, Peter Brooks, carpenter.
On Louisiana avenue the boarding houses of Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. M. Bender, Thomas Shields, Mrs. Nardin, Joseph Stettinius, J.J. Dermott and G.L. Giberson, lawyer; the residences of John Dick, John Brannan, B.F. French, Wade Hough, D.P. Porter, C. Burton, drawing teacher; Mrs. M. Atkinson, Mrs. Stowers' female school at the 6th street corner, the oyster cellar of A. Brady, colored; Dr. Calvert, G. Milburn, B.K. Morsell and E. Magnier. On 7th street, Beall & Stevenson, grocers; Robert Berry, tavern; James Hosier and J.A. Donoho, grocers; Mrs. Piggott's boarding house, Rhodes & Flenner, tailors.
By the middle of the forties Louisiana avenue had become the short cut from English Hill and the city hall, and 7th street had more than doubled its trade, then being regarded as second only to the avenue as to business, stores and such having multiplied. On the east of 7th street at Louisiana avenue, was the grocery store of Ober & Ryon, and the office of the German National Gazette, and north, Samuel's tavern, D.S. Waters' hardware, dry goods and furnishing house; T.K. Gray and Lewis Wright, tailors; J.C. Lewis, general agent; Charles Hunt's clothing house, S. Holmes' grocery, and John A. Donoho, grocer, at the corner of D street.
On Louisiana avenue were W. Noyes & Sons, wholesale boot and shoe house; J.J. Herbert's second-hand clothing store, William Allen’s grocery, J.H.T. Werner, gun and locksmith; Drew & Stephens, W.P. Peterson and James Carter, tailors; Mrs. Hunt's and Mrs. J. Terrett's boarding houses, Justices T.C. Donn's and B.K. Morrell's offices, Mrs. Magnier, W. Perry, J.T. Ryon and Frank Colclazer's toy store – the Mecca of the children of the neighborhood.
On D street were the Tate family, the Larcombes, M. Reardon, constable, Mrs. Morrell, confectioner; John Nelson, hatter, and others.