Echo of War of 1812
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, October 17, 1909 [p. 19]
In August 1814, the British army under Gen. Ross entered the capital for destructive purposes., and in a report Ross declared that he and his troopers were fired upon from the first houses in the city. They came into the city by way of Maryland avenue, which was then a meandering wagon track from the turnpike, extending northward from 15th and H streets northeast, and in places I was uneven and the little hills were avoided by the few teams of that day.
The point where he incident occurred was at the junction of Maryland avenue, B and 2d streets northeast, the houses being the Sewall house, at the northwest corner of 2d and B streets, and that erected by Gen. H. Dearborn, Secretary of War, at the northeast corner of Maryland avenue and 2d street. The latter house was at once wrecked and burned by the enraged soldiery. The three squares between 2d and 3d, B and C streets, with that part of Maryland avenue skirting square 757 and dividing squares 783 and 784, were then mostly rolling ground of somewhat higher elevation than the present street grade. This may be seen by the topography of some of the building lots, a number of houses being six feet or more above the street level.
For very many years the principal object of interest until the grade of Maryland avenue was cut down some fifty years ago, was a mound a little east of 2d street, beneath which had been buried the body of Rossí horse. Many of our older residents were told by their parents the story of the invasion.
The largest of the squares, No. 757, comprising ten lots, fronting Maryland avenue, 2d, 3d and B streets, was divided in 1797, and Mr. Carroll was vested with the title to lots 1, 8, 9 and 10, and to the United States title to the others. Gen. Dearbornís name appears on the tax books in 1802, listed for a one-thousand-dollar improvement, but not until 1804 did it appear on the land records at the court house and then lot 3 was conveyed to him for $500.
In 1802 the ground was listed at 3 and 4 cents per foot, but four years afterward it fell to 2 cents and less. The house of Gen. Dearborn was occupied by him till about 1809, then by R.R. Livingston, who had returned from France. However, the house was vacant at the time of the entry of the British. The shot fired at Ross was followed by the destruction of the house, and it was not rebuilt. In 1817 the lot was bought by Thomas Munroe.
Erected $1,600 House
Included in the many lots owned by Mr. Carroll, which were conveyed in 1829 to Tabbs, Weightman & Wallach, were four in this square. In 1837 four lots, 4 to 7, with many others, were vested in Georgetown College under the resolutions of Congress donating city lots to educational and charitable institutions. In 1839 John P. Pepper took tax title to lots 1 and 9 and in 1841 Mathias Jeffers owned another lot, and the next year E. King owned the west half of lot 2.
In the thirties there were on the south front of the square Col. Joseph Watson, for many years a pioneer claim agent; George W. Thompson, carpenter and builder, and Thomas Bowen, a tailor, John Courtney, a carpenter, was located on the 3d street front.
Land Listed at a Cent
In the square south, 784, there were five lots, of which three were assigned Mr. Prout in 1796. In 1799 W.H. Dorsey had interess, and in 1803 Pratt Miller et al. At this time the assessment was 1 center per foot, which soon afterward was reduced. Peter Howard, a carpenter, who lived in the neighborhood for many years bout in 1812 lot 1, corner 4th and B streets. In 1825 John Graham was an owner of lot 4, on 3d street and in 1827 William Gunton owned lot 1. The latter was assessed for $100 and $50 improvements. Zachariah Hazle owned on 3d street lot 4 in 1840, but he had lived in the neighborhood many years before, and had been assessed for $200 in 1829.