By James Croggon, The Evening Star, November 8, 1908 [p. 22]
By reason of the location of the avenue known as North Carolina south of D street, intersection 2d and 3d streets southeast in the original plan of the city was left this space, which now bears the name Folger Square. Under the care of the national government it has become one of the many well-kept parks of the Capital city. For more than eighty years, however, it was only an open common, and for that matter so were the adjacent squares, which had been laid off into building lots, for much of the period. Very slowly improvements were made on them. Nevertheless in the vicinity was located one of the two public schools a hundred years ago. Nearly as long ago was ground secured by the Sisters of Charity on which Providence Hospital was located during the civil war, and in and about D street east of the square in the forties was a village-like settlement. Doubtless there are very many residents of this city who remember their school-boy days when a recess time and before and after school hours there was little danger of disturbing neighbors, for the schoolhouse was at the corner of 3d and D streets.
The square north of Folger Square, No. 763, between C, D, 2d and 3d streets, was in 1796 divided equally between Mr. Carroll and the United States, each taking eight lots. The original valuation of the ground was 1 ˝ cents per foot, and there appear no improvements in the records down to 1840, by which time 1 cent more had been added to the valuation and no change had been made as to title. In 1837 the lots assigned to Mr. Carroll were deeded to Georgetown College.
Site of Providence Hospital
The ground owned by the Sisters, as stated, during the civil war became the site of Providence Hospital. In the first year of the war, 1861, the Sisters were at the Washington Infirmary, north of the court house in Judiciary Square, and on he night of November 3 of that year the building was destroyed by fire. It was a three-storied structure, the center portion of which had been in use as the jail from 1804 to 1838, and during the war it had become a military hospital, a number of frame wards supplementing the accommodations in the old building. In these the Sisters were engaged till the establishment of Providence Hospital on its present site in 1864, they having in the meantime acquired all the square. The first building was of moderate dimensions, but appropriations of $30,000 were made by Congress in 1866 and 1868, and additions were made.
East of Folger Square the lines of North Carolina avenue, C, 3d and 4th streets form square 791. This was cut into five lots which in 1797 were divided between William Prout and Mr. Carroll.
Value of Ground
South of the above, square 792, between 3d, 4th and D streets and North Carolina avenue, showed more development in the early days than others. It was plotted for eleven lots, title to which was vested in Carroll, Prout and the United States in 1797. Benjamin Stoddert in 1801 owned lot 9, the northeast corner of the square. The next year Gen. Van Ness owned three lots and Elexius Middleton lot 1, corner of 4th and D streets. Two cents per foot was the ground value in 1802, and later less, and in the thirties 3 cents. In 1807 a two-hundred-and-fifty-dollar improvement on lot 1, corner 4th and D streets, was charged to James Middleton, and in the thirties to P. Stewart. Jason Ross in 1805 had the corner of North Carolina avenue and 4th street, and in 1808 James Bassett had lots 2 and 11, near 4th and D streets.
Thomas Munroe, superintendent of Washington city, in 1806 conveyed part of lot 5, at the northeast corner of 3d and D streets, to Mr. Carroll, and two years later appears a deed of it to Elias B. Caldwell and William Brent, trustees of the Washington Academy, which is recited that it is exchanged for lot 6, square 761, corner of Pennsylvania avenue and 2d street. There was established one of the two public schools of Washington, known then as Academy East and later as the Eastern Lancasterian, Eastern and Third District Public School.
Early Day Teachers
In the twenties, Rev. A.T. McCormick, rector of Christ Church; Edward S. Lewis of the Treasury; Samuel N. Smallwood, lumber merchant and ex-mayor; George Watterson, librarian of Congress; Maj. Samuel Miller of the United States Marines; Daniel Rapine, printer and bookseller, former mayor; and Matthew Wright, a navy yard merchant, were the trustees. When the city was redistricted N.C. Towle, then of the Post Office Department; R.M. Coombs, a dry goods merchant, and Mr. Watterson were made trustees.
Isaac S. Middleton in 1811 owned in lot I, corner 4th and D streets, and lots 2 and 11, adjoining, went to George Andrews soon thereafter. M. Myers had lot 9, at the corner of North Carolina avenue and 4h street. In 1821 Griffith Coombs purchased in lots 4 and 5, on D street, which in 1828 passed to J.H. Beans and others and R. Robertson had lot 9, at the northeast corner of the square, in 1825.
In the Thirties
Square 703, of fourteen lots, fronting 3d, 4th, D and E streets, was apportioned to Carroll Prout and the United States in 1796, and the west half of lots 3 to 9 was bought in 1799 by James Barry, who in 1801 added lot 10 on D street. The original valuation of 3 cents per foot was reduced to 2 cents in 1807, but 3 cents again prevailed for nearly fifty years. Mr. Barry’s holdings in 1820 went to Gen. P. Stewart, and in 1834 to Charles Bennett. George Adams bought lots 11 to 13, which included the corner lots 11 to 13 which included the corner of 4th and D streets about that time, and George Collard later bought them.
There were only a few residents in this section in the twenties. Tippett’s School, as the public school at 3d and D streets was then known, had for its neighbors John H. Downs, a carpenter; John Jeffers, a shoemaker; John Beans and Mrs. Howard on D street. Twenty years later William Garner and William Eckles, blacksmiths; James Parker, slater; Mrs. Knox and Sol. Moe Bean were there, as also were Isaac Bartley and Thomas Cephus at the corners of 4th and D streets. Michael Dooley on 4th street between C and D streets. S. Simms on 4th street between D and E streets and Reuben Burdine at 2d and G streets, on the site of Providence Hospital.