Known As Prout Farm
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, July 14, 1907 [p. 11]
This is a portion of Washington, once in the lines of the Prout farm, north of the section described in The Star of the 7th instant, farm which the excavation made for the navy yard tunnel of the Baltimore and Potomac railroad, removed much of the original soil. This, however, being within the lines of K street and Virginia avenue, did not affect the rights of the private owners, and when the ditch was refilled the old conditions were restored. North of this cut re four squares laid off on the original plan, as Nos. 879 and 880 between I and K, 6th and 7th streets, and Nos. 905 and 928, between I and K streets eastward to 9th street. According to the original lay of the land the first was on the hill side, the second in the bottom and the others on the level plateau. The squares east of 7th street appear to have been settled first, according to records obtainable, and there is interesting history as to all of the squares, the names of the forefathers of many families of the present day being linked with the records, and much family history has come through with the growing generations.
With the exception of 8th street and the vicinity of the market, little material improvement was made in the section until in the twenties. Some few brick pavements and oil lamps were then in evidence on 8th street and near the market at 6th and K streets. Though the market house had induced some little settlement on K street, and the corporation fire apparatus in charge of the Anacostia fire company and a log lockup, or prison, near 7th and K streets, indicated that there was a municipal government in existence, the view north of the market for the first fifty years of the citys history revealed green hills and few buildings. Eastward there were some buildings constructed in the early years of the century.
Possession Commenced Under Leases
In square No. 879, formed within the lines of 7th and K streets and Virginia avenue there were but two lots projected, and these were assigned to Mr. Prout in 1797. In the same year he sold both to Augustus Woodward, who, in 1804, conveyed them back to Mr. Prout. In 1808 L. Farrington had title in lot 1, and the next year the lease of a frame house and ground in lot 2 was made to J. Bowen. In 1814 J.N. Brashears and James MacKim had title in lot 2, and a house and d to Thomas Lyndall, master joiner, and in 1836 James Bury, master blacksmith, was a resident on the square. Mrs. Bury survived her husband, and lived in the house for many years. The house is standing at the present day.
In 1820 the ground was valued at 6 cents per foot, and J. Bowen was assessed for a $200 improvement. In 1833 this was reduced t $150; Mrs. Lyndall was assessed on $50 and Mr. Bury, $1,100.
The square southeast of 6th street, facing the market, contained two lots which, in 1808, were vested in the original owner, Mr. Prout. No improvements appear in the early days, when 3 cents per foot was the valuation of the ground. Though there are no record of improvements on the original books, leases appear in 1806 to R. Delphy and E. Vidler, and the next year to Thomas Young, Thomas Foyles and Patrick Farrell. In 1808 Thomas Summers was a leasee, the next year James MacKim, in 1812 Elizabeth Brown, and in 1819 Peter Little. Mary A. Brown bought a lot in the square in 1822, and James Nokes and Lavinia Numan bought of James Scanlon in 1831. The latter was master plumber of the navy yard.
Between 7th, 8th, I and K streets, or Virginia avenue, square No. 905 was laid off, and being vested by the Commissioner sin Mr. Prout in 1797 for improvements, it I supposed that it was not then bare of buildings. In this year Augustine Woodward had the southeast corner of the square, which, in 1804 was bought by Andrew Forrest. This place fronted seventy-one feet on 8th street and sixty-seven feet on Virginia avenue. The consideration was $504.53. Buildings, including one on Virginia avenue, were erected shortly afterward and nearly all of them are in service today. In 1808 William Bunyie leased the southeast corner of 7th and I streets, and three years afterward took a deed. James Walker leased a brick house on 8th street and John MacCutcheon had a lease on 8th street in 1804. Thomas Holliday acquired the southwest corner of 8th and I streets, and James Johnson at this time resided on 8th street. In 1809 L. Talbert had a frame house in the square; James Wickam purchased the ground with an unfinished house on Virginia avenue, and Salvadore Catalano two houses on 7th and I streets. Two years afterward Catalano sold to Michael Sardo. Mrs. Elizabeth Rankin owned houses in this square about the same time, and in 1812 George Gran bought on Virginia avenue. In 1813 Mr. Walker bought the house he had leased, and in 1814 Charles Venable bought at the southwest of Virginia avenue and 7th street. In 1820 Thomas Gulick had a lease on 8th street property. In 1822 William Jones resided at 7th and I streets, and C Byrne on I street.
There was little transfer of property in the twenties, when the ground had a value of 5 to 9 cents. In that decade the improvements were assessed. To Andrew Forrest, $4,150; James Wickham, $500; G Grant, $300; Charles Venable, $2,000, on south front of the square; S. Catlano, $600; and T. Holliday, $250, on 7th street; William Jones, $1,800, 7th and I streets; James Walker, $1,000, on 8th street.
In 1833 the Forrest property passed to Mrs. Elinor C. Bulley but not out of the family; James Tucker, master blacksmith, bought on Virginia avenue in 1834, and Thomas Bayne established on 8th street at boot, and shoe business. In 1838 Matthew Trimble bought on 7th street, and in 1839 Robert M. Coombs had a lease on Virginia avenue.
Subdivision of Square 928
Mrs. Esther Murphy obtained a lease in 1822 on lot 10, at the southwest corner of 9th and I streets. A year later Marie Clarke and Edward Simms were tenants in the square, and in 1824 James Edgecombe owned lot 5 on 8th street, and John Hodgson had a lease and James Marshall a deed to K street property.
Four to eight cents was the assessed value of the ground in 1825, and the improvements were assessed as follows: J. Hodgson and J. Sanford, $125 each; J.B. Forrest, $3,800; T. Winn, $900; Mr. Palmer, $350; J. Edgecombe, $400; E. Simms, $1,200; J. Prout, $450; A. Lindsay and Hester Murphy,, $150 each; A. Richardson, 4200; J. Horner, $2,000, and Prouts heirs, $50 and $100.
Vacant Space in 1830
A small cannon was kept in the same house and it was used for firing salutes. This same gun figured in the now Nothing riot near the corner of 7th and K streets in June, 1857. It was forcibly taken to the scene of the rioting, the polls of the third and fourth wards, and an attempt was made to fir it on the marines, who had been called out, when the latter fired into the mob an captured the gun.
In 1814 George Grant, a carpenter, was located on Virginia avenue, and he, too, is represented at his day by grandchildren The Venable family, long in tin and sheet-iron workers and almost constantly represented among the gunner of the navy, came on Virginia avenue and 7th street about ninety years ago and some are yet living there. William Hebb, who in 1814 was on k street, near 9th street, was the progenitor of Col. Hebb, well-known marine officer. John Hodgson, who in the twenties lived near M. Hebb, was employed in the navy yard, and the father of the late Joseph F. Hodgson. He, too, was one of the four heavy men of he section, tipping over 300 pounds, and was known for his handsome features, fine figure and genial disposition. James Marshall was then a blacksmith on K street employed in the yard but in after years was a justice of the peace, police magistrate and assessor under the old corporation.
In the thirties Thomas Bayne was keeping a shoe store on 8th street. Matthew Trimble was a well-known grocer on 7th street, and R.M. Coombs had a dry goods store on 8th street. John Bright and C.E. Ellis were on 8th street; Mrs. J. Jolley and H.W. Franklin sailmaker, on 7th street; James Tucker, a prominent blacksmith, and Osborn Turner, on Virginia avenue.
Some of the Residents