Notable Past Residents: Louia Vaughn Jones (1895-1965)

Not so long ago, I was asked to see if there was anything historic about the Howard Manor Apartment building located at 654 Girard Street, NW. This is on the southeast corner of Girard and Georgia Avenue neighboring Howard University. While I am still digging around to see what I can learn about this property, I did come across on notable resident of the building — violinist Louia Vaugn Jones.

Photograph of Jones from his passport application of 1924.

Photograph of Jones from his passport application of 1924.

Based on my preliminary research, Louia Vaughn Jones was an internationally known violinist and professor of violin at Howard University for 30 years. He was born in 1895 in Circleville, Ohio, though considered a native of Cleveland, Ohio, where he was educated in the public schools before studying violin at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. After graduation from the Conservatory in 1918, Jones served in France during World War I with the Army as assistant conductor of the 807th Pioneer Infantry Band. Later he returned to Boston and conducted a violin studio there for two years.

After a concert season in the United States and in Nova Scotia, Jones returned to France in 1921 and spent two years at the Ecole Normale de Musique in Paris. He then studied in Budapest. In 1923, Jones was called upon to play a command performance before King Alfonso and Queen Beatrice of Spain at the American Embassy in Madrid. After studying abroad for seven years he returned to the United States in 1928 and became nationally known as a concert violinist.

In 1930, Jones became professor and head of the violin department at Howard University, a position he held until 1960. In this post he also began Howard’s string orchestra, the Symphonette. At the time of his appointment, Jones was considered by many to be the most finished black violinist in America. In a letter of recommendation written by W.E.B. Du Bois supporting Jones’ application to Howard, Du Bois stated that Jones “is by far the greatest violinist that the Negro race has at present in the United States.”

As violinist, teacher and composer, Jones was recognized by music critics throughout the country. Jones was among the first African Americans to perform with the National Symphony Orchestra, when he appeared as a soloist with the orchestra in 1935. The concert was staged at Howard University because Constitution Hall was at that time closed to African American artists. During the Roosevelt Administration, Jones also played at a White House reception.

Louia Vaughn Jones passed away on February 1, 1965. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.


Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963. Letter from W. E. B. Du Bois to Howard University, April 25, 1930. W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries. Available at:

Harrington, Richard. “The Classical Muse.” The Washington Post, March 1, 2002, p. T33.

“Louia Jones to Take Howard Music Post.” Afro-American, September 6, 1930, p. 8.

“Louia V. Jones, Celebrated Musician, is Now in Paris.” The Chicago Defender, July 16, 1927, p. 6.

“Louia V. Jones Dies; Ex-Violinist, Teacher.” The Evening Star, February 3, 1965, p. B-5.

“Louia Vaughn Jones, Violinist.” Afro-American, February 15, 1930, p. 2.

“Violinist Louia V. Jones, Howard Teacher, Dead.” The Washington Post, February 3, 1965, p. B12.

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5 Comments on “Notable Past Residents: Louia Vaughn Jones (1895-1965)”

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  2. Ebon Talifarro

    Notable Past Residents: Louia Vaughn Jones (1895-1965) | Park View, D.C.

  3. Akeylah Walters Says:

    Hey we’re related! 🙂

  4. Felisa I.R.Clark Says:

    I was a violin student under the tutelage of Mr. Jones, who I loved and admired as a “grandfather.” I went on to briefly perform with the DC Youth Symphony Orchestra.

  5. As a tiny 12 year-old, I well remember carrying my 3/4-size violin case to my weekly class on the campus of Howard University.

    That such a distinguished, dedicated and serious person with poor eyesight would take time and energy for little me was an astounding and transformative experience…

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