Establishing Park View — Part V: Restrictive Covenants and the Growth of the African American Community

Posted August 28, 2015 by Kent
Categories: History

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According to Prologue DC’s Mapping Segregation research:

As Washington grew in the early 20th century, developers commonly sought to shape the character of new neighborhoods by including restrictive covenants (agreements) in deeds for the properties they sold. They might require that only single-family houses be constructed or that buildings be a certain distance from the street. They also might prohibit use of the property as a school, factory, or saloon―or prohibit its sale or lease to certain groups, most often African Americans.[1]

Because deeds are legal contracts, homebuyers needed to pay attention to what they were agreeing to. Buyers who ignored a covenant risked being taken to court, and racial covenants deterred African Americans from moving into new neighborhoods. Covenants also targeted other groups, including Jews. In DC this was more common west of Rock Creek Park.[2]

Starting in the 1920s, racially restrictive covenants also began to be imposed in another manner. Neighborhood associations would gather signatures on petitions that put covenants on the property of each signer, effectively restricting entire blocks. These petitions, which were filed with the Recorder of Deeds as legal contracts, could restrict whole neighborhoods, like Mount Pleasant and Bloomingdale.[3]

Ray Middaugh’s firm Middaugh & Shannon was one such firm to include racial covenants it the deeds for many of the houses they developed, not only in their Park View subdivision but also in the houses they developed in nearby Bloomingdale and other neighborhoods where they were active. Park View, similarly to Columbia Heights, Bloomingdale, and other near in neighborhoods, began their existence as whites-only neighborhoods in close proximity to black communities. Like Middaugh & Shannon, many developers of these neighborhoods often included restrictive covenants in their deeds ostensibly to “maintain” the neighborhoods property values. At the time, it was widely believed that neighborhoods needed to be racially homogeneous to be stable. So widely held was this belief that the Federal Housing Administration institutionalized the practice in the 1930s. Read the rest of this post »

Establishing Park View — Part IV: The Building Trades Strike of 1907/1908

Posted August 27, 2015 by Kent
Categories: History

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The Building Trades Strike of 1907/1908 had its roots in the “lockout” of the union plumbers by the master plumbers early in 1906, and the difficulties related to this dispute began to impact one trade after another. This culminated in August 1907 when the construction unions united to battle for the cause of organized labor and to uphold the principle of the “closed shop.”

In May 1907, craftsmen occupied in Washington’s building industry met to discuss their dissatisfaction with their working conditions and to seek a remedy. The result of this meeting was a proposal by the building contractors, the master builders and the business men in the District who supply building materials to bring about a settlement of the existing trouble in the building trades. It was also resolved that, if necessary, that supplies of lumber, lime, brick and other materials would be entirely cut off, causing a general shut down of all construction in Washington.

On May 13, 1907, the Building Trades Alliance met and singled out Middaugh & Shannon’s Park View subdivision as a problem and called off their bricklayers, tile roofers, metal workers and metal lathers from the work site. Their issue with Middaugh & Shannon was the use of non-union plumbers, carpenters and painters. The immediate impact on the Park View subdivision was a loss of about twenty mechanics, mostly bricklayers and tile roofers, who had been called off by the strike committee. In order to continue operations, Middaugh & Shannon hired out-of-town nonunion workmen, leading the Building Trades Mechanics’ Council to send a committee to investigate the labor being employed to build the Park Road houses then under construction in mid-June. Read the rest of this post »

Establishing Park View — Part III: Middaugh & Shannon’s Park View Subdivision

Posted August 26, 2015 by Kent
Categories: History

Tags: ,
Areas in red show location of Middaugh & Shannon's Park View houses.

Areas outlined in red show location of Middaugh & Shannon’s Park View houses.

In December 1905, Middaugh & Shannon purchased the subdivision of Whitney Close which then consisted of approximately nine acres of “splendid land” along Park Road (then Whitney Avenue), west of the Soldiers’ Home grounds. While work to subdivide and develop Whitney Close began in 1886, the property was described at the time of the Middaugh & Shannon purchase as being “subdivided and streets laid out, yet no houses [having] been built there, and [being] looked upon as acreage property.”[1] Middaugh & Shannon purchased the land with the intent of improving the property by erecting up-to-date residences. A key goal of their development was to construct houses that provided light and air, notably with wide lots containing side yards.

Prior to Middaugh & Shannon’s operations in Park View, they had contributed significantly to the development of the Bloomingdale neighborhood. However, unlike the houses constructed in Bloomingdale, Middaugh & Shannon decided to “inaugurate a style of building which [was] an innovation in [Washington, D.C.].”[2] The firm hired architect B. Stanley Simmons to prepare plans for the new section along Park Road. Unlike other projects of the time, the Park Road houses would be constructed as semi-detached houses and not in rows. Simmons also intended to design the structures in a variety of styles to include Old English, Spanish mission, Colonial, and Italian renaissance. Read the rest of this post »

Establishing Park View — Part II: Developer Middaugh & Shannon

Posted August 25, 2015 by Kent
Categories: History

Tags: ,
William Edward Shannon

William Edward Shannon

William E. Shannon was a partner in the prolific development firm of Middaugh & Shannon. Together with Raymond E. Middaugh (1870-1910), Shannon constructed over 900 dwellings in Washington, D.C. The team was instrumental in developing the neighborhoods of Bloomingdale, Park View, Woodley Park, 14th Street Terrace, Petworth, Michigan Park, and part of Saul’s Addition.

William Edward Shannon was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1875 and came to Washington, D.C. in 1881 at the age of six. He attended Washington, D.C. public schools and Spencerian Business College in Washington, D.C. His first job was as a page for the United Press, stationed on the floor of the Senate and House. Later, he worked as a messenger at the Evening Star, a printer, and then a real estate broker. He married Lilian A. Walingford in 1899.

Shannon began working with Ray E. Middaugh in 1896 and the two formed the real estate firm of Middaugh and Shannon in 1900. Their first development project was the construction of row houses in Bloomingdale within the area bounded by R Street, North Capitol Street, Bryant Street, and 2nd Street, NW. From 1900 to 1901, architect B. Stanley Simmons (1872-1931, see Architects Directory entry) designed 47 of these row houses for Middaugh & Shannon. Beginning in 1902, however, the firm relied almost exclusively on Joseph Bohn Jr. (1877-1910, see Architects Directory entry) as its architect.

Middaugh & Shannon pioneered the development of Bloomingdale. The Washington Post’s 1903 History of the City of Washington reported that as a result of Middaugh & Shannon’s initial development in the neighborhood, there were 869 houses, accommodating 3,484 people, by 1903. As advertised in the newspaper, their houses were built to embody their ideals of what housing should be, not only of construction, but also of arrangement, i.e., their copyrighted plan for the perfect lighting of the dining room.

In 1906, the firm began developing the Park View neighborhood immediately west of the Old Soldiers Home. Joseph Bohn designed the row and semi-detached dwellings in this development, including virtually all the dwellings constructed in the two squares (3044 and 3036) between Park Place and Warder Street, N.W. and bounded by Newton Place on the north and Lamont Street on the south. Bohn’s final works (1909) for Middaugh & Shannon were two rows in Mt. Pleasant at 19th Street (3201-3215) and Park Road (1844-1860) and a row of Colonial Revival dwellings along Cathedral Avenue in Woodley Park (2228-2242). Shannon & Luchs were the selling agents of many of Middaugh & Shannon’s developments. Herbert T. Shannon (1884-1946, see directory entry), co-founder of Shannon & Luchs, was the younger brother of William E. Shannon. Read the rest of this post »

Establishing Park View — Part I: Whitney Close

Posted August 24, 2015 by Kent
Categories: History

Tags: ,

This week, I’ll be posting a short series of articles outlining the establishment of the neighborhood’s first successful subdivision — Middaugh & Shannon’s Park View subdivision. Today provides and introduction and focuses on the first attempt to create a subdivision in the area in 1886. Following days will focus on builders Middaugh & Shannon, their Park View subdivision, the building trades strike of 1907/1908, and the establishment of the African-American community in a formerly “whites only” area of Washington, D.C.

The Park View neighborhood in its entirety can trace its organization and name to March 1, 1908, when the Park View Citizens’ Association first convened at the old Whitney Avenue church. The name “Park View” was chosen due to the community’s close proximity to the U.S. Soldiers’ Home and as an expansion of Middaugh & Shannon’s Park View subdivision along Park Road. The earliest known description of the boundaries for the Park View neighborhood is found in the first issue of the Park View News (1916). All known subsequent descriptions of the neighborhood agree with those published in 1916. The most clearly stated description comes from the 1917 Constitution and By-Laws of the Park View Citizens’ Association and is provided below.

. . . bounded as follows: By the south side of Gresham Street on the south, Rock Creek church Road on the north, Soldiers’ Home grounds on the east, and both sides of Georgia Avenue from Gresham Street to Park Road; thence west to both sides of Park Road to New Hampshire Avenue; thence north on the west side of New Hampshire Avenue to Rock Creek Church Road.

Detail from 1903 Baists Real Estate Atlas showing boundaries of Whitney Close.

Detail from 1903 Baists Real Estate Atlas showing boundaries of Whitney Close.

Park View’s roots date to June 4, 1886, when the heirs of Catherine M. Whitney sold the former estate of Asa Whitney, known as Whitney Close, to Benjamin H. Warder of Ohio for the sum of $60,024. Warder immediately set about subdividing the 43 acre tract of land into building lots for a new community.

As detailed on Wikipedia, Benjamin H. Warder is an interesting character. He co-founded Warder, Brokaw & Child Company, and paid $30,000 for patent rights to “The Champion,” a combined reaper & mower invented by William N. Whiteley. Warder’s company manufactured the machines, but distribution was shared, at first, with Whiteley and others. By 1860, the Springfield, Ohio, firm was just Warder & Child.

Warder’s company manufactured harvesting machinery – reapers, binders, mowers and hay rakes – under the “Champion” brand name. Warder and Bushnell managed the factories in Springfield. The company opened a branch office in Chicago in 1865, headed by Glessner, which grew to become its most profitable: in 1871, the Chicago office sold about 800 machines; in 1884, it sold 25,000 machines. By 1886, the company employed more than 1000 workers, and was exporting to foreign countries.

Warder retired from business in 1886, and moved his family to Washington, DC, where his house at 1515 K Street, NW, was under construction (the house has since been moved to 16th Street). His subdivision of Whitney Close appears to be among his first forays into D.C.’s speculative real estate market. He was also among the investors involved in subdividing Petworth the following year in 1887.

Whitney Close houses(3567 and 3569 Warder Street, NW. These two houses date to 1893 and are possibly the sole remaining houses from the Whitney Close subdivision.)

Unfortunately, Warder’s vision for Whitney Close was not realized due to a number of reasons, and actual development was initially slow with only a handful of wood-frame houses constructed.

By 1904, however, a strong economy, an ever decreasing availability of near-in land, and large public green spaces such as the Soldiers’ Home and the McMillan Reservoir, all set the stage for Park View to finally take off. Middaugh & Shannon were the first builders to begin large scale development in Park View, beginning with their purchase of nine acres of the Whitney Close subdivision along Park Road in December 1905 and construction beginning in February 1906.

Tomorrow: Builders Middaugh & Shannon

Checking Out Some Interesting Alley Development

Posted August 21, 2015 by Kent
Categories: alleys, Development, Housing

Tags: , , ,
Map showing the location of the large lots currently under construction on Lamont and Warder.

Map showing the location of the large lots currently under construction on Lamont and Warder.

If you haven’t been in the alley surrounded by Lamont, Warder, Kenyon, and some of 6th streets, NW, lately, you really should check it out. There were some large parcels on this block that neighbors not living on them probably weren’t aware of. Currently, rowhouses at 524 & 526 Lamont, 3220 Warder, and 511 Kenyon have all been under renovations to convert them from single family houses to multi-family structures. What is particularly interesting is that while each of the projects is on a separate street, they all seem to intersect in the alley.

I’ve previously check out 511 Kenyon back in April, where essentially another house was built behind the existing house (which was also popped up). Both 3220 Warder and 524/526 Lamont are also getting popped up … but in these cases to take advantage of the large alley lots behind them, a new structure is being built that is connected to the original rowhouses by using a small causeway or single basement. This seems to be a very creative way to go about this. I know that there will likely be mixed feelings about whether such construction should or shouldn’t occur, but I am not aware of any zoning violations at this time.

Below is a video I took to help provide some idea of how close these projects are to each other. It starts by showing the south side of the 3220 Warder Street project, moves forward to show some of the Lamont Street project, and includes a shot of the Kenyon Street project.

Photographs of the projects  are after the jump Read the rest of this post »

RiverSmart Bloomingdale Rebate Program Includes Much of Park View

Posted August 20, 2015 by Kent
Categories: Environment

Tags: ,
Detail of Bloomingdale Sewershed map showing Park View area included.

Detail of Bloomingdale Sewershed map showing Park View area included.

I wanted to make sure that Park View residents were aware that much of the neighborhood falls within the Bloomingdale Sewershed, and thereby qualifies for Bloomingdale Sewershed Rebates. The program offers eligible residents located in the sewershed special incentives to reduce stormwater runoff. The goal of the program is to help prevent the severe flooding that the Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park neighborhoods have experienced in recent years.

Rebates exist for impervious pavement removal, installing pervious pavers, and green roofs. The rebate program ends on September 21, 2015, so if you are interested you can read all about it and get the appropriate forms at the DOEE Bloomingdale Sewershed Rebate Webpage.

The Website states that this program is available for single-family homes, condominiums, co-ops, apartments, locally-owned businesses, and houses of worship within the Bloomingdale Sewershed area.


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