Archive for the ‘Howard University’ category

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

June 20, 2014

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.

Howard University Homecoming Parade this Saturday

October 25, 2013

As a heads up, this is Howard University Homecoming Week. If you need to travel up and down Georgia Avenue, you can expect much heavier automobile and pedestrian traffic in the Georgia Avenue and Sherman Avenue corridors through this weekend.

Tomorrow is Howard’s homecoming parade. In addition to Georgia Avenue being closed during the parade,  the 70-bus will be detoured to Sherman Avenue during that time. Below are details about the parade and associated road closures.


This event is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, 2013. The staging area time will be at 7:00 am in front of the Johnson Administration Building (2400 6th Street, NW) on the Howard University campus.

Parade Route

The parade start time will be at 10:00 am until approximately 12:30 pm at which time the roadways mentioned below will re-open to traffic:

  • North on 6th Street, NW to Fairmont Street, NW
  • West on Fairmont Street, NW to Georgia Avenue, NW
  • South on Georgia Avenue, NW to Florida Avenue, NW
  • Southeast on Florida Avenue, NW to 5th Street, NW
  • North on 5th Street, NW to T Street, NW
  • East on T Street, NW to Anna Cooper Circle, NW
  • Southeast around the circle to 3rd Street, NW
  • North on 3rd Street, NW to Elm Street, NW
  • East on Elm Street, NW to 2nd Street, NW
  • North on 2nd Street, NW to Bryant Street, NW
  • West on Bryant Street, NW to 4th Street, NW
  • North on 4th Street, NW to the Valley (between College Street, NW and Howard Place, NW where parade will disband)

Historic Photos from Howard University’s Beginning

September 27, 2013

Below are two photographs of Howard University, both from the early 1870s, I believe, though they could be slightly earlier. Alexander Gardner is the photographer for both, and as he is reported to have given up photography in 1871, its a safe bet that they are no later than that.Howard University 1870 1

The one above shows Howard’s Old Main. the view is from the southeast. Old Main was designed by Rochester, N.Y., architect Henry R. Searle Jr. in 1867, who also created the master plan for the university grounds. If you look to the left of the building, you can see General Oliver Otis Howard’s house in the background. I’ve previously posted a photograph from the same period of that building as well.

Below is a view of Old Main (to the right) from the northwest — perhaps from General Howard’s house. To the left of the photo is Miner Hall. Both buildings have long ago been razed.

Howard University 1870 2

Historic Photo of General Oliver Otis Howard House ca. 1870

August 13, 2013
The Oliver Otis Howard house ca. 1870. From the author's collection.

The Oliver Otis Howard house ca. 1870s. From the author’s collection.

Recently I was fortunate enough to find a carte de visite of General Oliver Otis Howard’s house probably taken in the early 1870s. This house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.

According to the National Park Service’s Web site:

The General Oliver Otis Howard House … [was] constructed between 1867 and 1869, it was the home of Major General Oliver Otis Howard, the founder of [Howard University] and its first President from 1869 to 1873. The house still retains many of its decorative elements such as the high mansard roof, elaborate dormer windows, tower, and decorative iron balustrades. The Board of Howard University was able, through General Howard, to purchase a one-acre lot including a frame building to begin operation of the school. The Howard House was among the first buildings constructed. Although the Trustees voted to give General Howard a lot upon which to build a residence, he instead purchased the lot for $1,000.

In 1909, when the University began to expand, the Howard House was purchased. The house has had varied uses over the past century. For example, between 1936–1942, the Howard House was the home of Miss Lulu V. Childers, and served as the Conservatory of Music which she directed. From 1967 to 1972, the African Language Center and African Studies Department were located there. The building presently is used for conferences and special events.

While the house still exists with a high degree of integrity, its setting has certainly changed over the years. The sweeping lawn and surrounding structures are long gone, with the house surrounded by university buildings to the north and south and a parking lot to the west (which is located at a much lower grade than the original sloping hill. Below is a familiar view today from the southwest.

Howard Hall in 2013.

Howard Hall in 2013.

Former Bond Bread Factory and WRECo Bus Garage Nominated for Historic Landmark Consideration

February 28, 2013
1958 photo from WRECO landmark nomination showing both the bus garage (X) and Bond Bread factory at that time.

1958 photo from WRECO landmark nomination showing both the bus garage (X) and Bond Bread factory to the north at that time.

Something that may have slipped by unnoticed by many was the D.C. Preservation League’s landmark nominations of the former Bond Bread Factory (2146 Georgia Avenue) and the Washington Railway and Electric Company Bus Garage (2112 Georgia Avenue) at the beginning of February. Both buildings are empty and owned by Howard University. The nearby former Corby Bakery building (2301 Georgia Avenue) is considered by many to have lost too much of its architectural integrity to merit landmark consideration.

According to the nominations — which I encourage folks to read if they want to know more about these buildings — the 1929 Bond Bread Factory building is a high-style industrial building designed by architect Corry B. Comstock. Its style, quality craftsmanship, and decorative detailing are rare for the city’s industrial building stock. The Bond Bread Factory, although vacant, remains in good condition and retains its integrity.

The Central Bus Garage was constructed in 1930 to house and maintain the bus fleet of the Washington Railway and Electric Company. It continued in this usage through the incorporation of WRECO into the newly-formed Capital Transit Company in 1933 and that company’s reorganization into the DC Transit Company in 1949. In 1958, the garage became the service facility and gasoline depot for a United States Post Office truck fleet that had been displaced from the Main City Post Office at North Capitol Street and Massachusetts Avenue NE.

Next time you are in the 2100 block of Georgia Avenue, you may want to take a second look at these buildings to appreciate their architecture.


Dedicated Bus/Bike Lanes Coming to Lower Georgia Avenue

October 10, 2012

If you drive, ride, or commute along southern Georgia Avenue, here’s something that should be of interest. I’m sure this will be particularly true of the many area bikers. DDOT is proposing exclusive bus lanes on Georgia Avenue between Barry Place and Florida Avenue. To assist them in designing the bus lanes and streetscape, they want community input in this process.

DDOT will be presenting two options.  The first is for exclusive shared bus and bike lanes north and southbound, with a left turn lane northbound at Barry and a left turn lane southbound at Bryant.  The second proposal includes the first, but makes Barry one way westbound and provides flashing yellow lights 24 hour northbound on Georgia at Barry and southbound at Georgia at Bryant.

According to information shared by Sylvia Robinson on the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force e-mail blast, meetings have been scheduled for the following dates and times:

The following meetings will be held with DDOT to discuss these options:

Monday October 15th from 5-7 p.m. at the DC Housing Finance Auditorium – 815 Florida Ave. NW (click on flyer above for details)

Wednesday October 24th at 7 p.m. (GA Ave Community Development Task Force Meeting) at ECAC – 733 Euclid St. NW (accessible entrance in the rear – call (202) 462-2285 if assistance is needed)

For questions on this proposal contact:
Wendy Peckham
Phone: 202-671-4581
Email: wendy.peckham (at)


Howard University Homecoming 2011 — Parade this Saturday Morning

October 21, 2011

Parade route for the 2011 Howard University Homecoming

Tomorrow marks the final day of Howard University’s week of homecoming activities, which started on Sunday, Oct. 16, with a gospel concert. Activities scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 22, include the homecoming football game and a parade. The parade is scheduled for Saturday morning starting between 9:30 and 10 a.m. with roving street closures.

According to the homecoming Web site, the “parade boasts an annual attendance in excess of 30,000 and was recognized by The Washington Post in 2006 and 2007 as one of the “must see” events in its annual “Year in Review”.  The many participants
(including students, staff, alumni and friends) line the one and one half mile route which begins on the main campus of the University and proceeds south past the Howard University Hospital and extends through the historic LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale Communities.” (click on map above)

You can expected lots of vehicle and foot traffic along the Georgia Avenue and Sherman Avenue corridors ALL DAY on Saturday, Oct. 22. Street parking throughout the neighborhood might be at a premium on that day.

For more information and/or questions, please contact:

Steven G. Johnson
Howard University
Office of Protocol and Events
Howard Center
2225 Georgia Avenue, NW, Suite 330
Washington, DC 20059
Office: 202.238.2551


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