2008 House & Garden Tour Stops
|102 13th Street, NE
These walls did talk. A few years ago, the owners of this corner house overlooking Lincoln Park noticed three people examining the outside of their residence. The visitors explained that they were related to its original owners. “You must be the Frankes!” Phil Smith exclaimed, “I have your mail.” In fact, he had been extracting mail addressed to the Frankes from his walls for years, where it had apparently been stuffed to help stop drafts. Examples of this mail, dating back to 1896, hang in the downstairs half bath. One of the visitors explained that she was the granddaughter of Friedrick Maximillian Franke, the original owner of the building. She provided a photo of the Frankes taken in 1896 that hangs in the entryway.
Frank Wickline built this Queen Ann style row house in 1892. At that time this house and the residence adjoining on North Carolina Avenue (constructed together) were valued at $4,000. Max Franke, an engraver born in Germany, was the first owner. He migrated to Michigan at the age of 25, and moved to Washington, DC in the early 1880s. Max and Lisette Franke raised five children in the house which was sold to Lulu Fluckey in 1909. Thus began a series of 14 owners, ending in Philip and Catherine Smith who purchased 102 13th St. in 1990.
While you're in the neighborhood take the guided mini-walking tour of the 100 block of 13th Street and the 200 block of Tennessee Ave.
The Audubon Condominiums
A permit was issued in January 1906 for the construction of a twelve unit apartment building called The Park. Almost all of the early residents were white collar workers with about half employed by the federal government. While turnover was high in the early years, Julia McGrath and her boarder, Margaret Wannall, of apartment 12 remained for fifteen years. Both worked for the Bureau of Printing. An early superintendent, Nellie Bernard, lived in the basement with her husband, a laborer, and their six children, all below the age of ten in 1915.
The building was purchased in 1977 by Yves Fedrigault and converted to condominiums in accordance with the DC Condominium Law of 1976. The units, the first of which was sold in 1982, are noted for their quirky angled walls and archways. Unit 201 and Unit 402 are on the Tour.
|152 Tennessee Ave., NE
George P. Newton, a builder, acquired permits to construct the seven row houses from 152 to 164 Tennessee Avenue on February 25, 1905. Newton hired N.T. Haller and Company as the architects. Once completed, Newton and his family moved into 162. The first occupant of 152 was Eugene C. Miller, born in 1883 in Wisconsin, his wife Emily, daughter Bernadine and brother Charles. At that time Miller worked as a clerk auditor at the Post Office. The family remained for almost thirty years, but eventually moved to Northwest at a time when Miller worked for the General Accounting Office. They were replaced by Frank Holmes, an engineer at the telephone company, and his wife Mildred. Their son sold the house to the current owners.
When architect John Nammack first saw the house in 1993 he loved its size and location on a quiet street off Lincoln Park. Little had been changed in 90 years, only a modest kitchen renovation and a lot of paint on the chestnut woodwork. After years as a rental property, the house needed work but was mostly in tact— minus most mantels. In deference to the neighborhood, work started with improvements to the front of the building. Other projects followed gradually, with much of the work being done by the owner and his partner, Manuel, who many will recognize from his stores on 8th Street, GroovyLand and GroovyDC.
|232 11th Street, NE
On September 21, 1894 a permit was issued to Mary A. Darnall, the 62 year old widow of James for the construction of the three dwellings at 232, 234 and 236 11th Street, NE. The Darnalls had six grown children at that time and perhaps the hope was that they would all be together. Alas, that did not happen. The 1897 directory lists two Darnalls living at 236, including a son, James D. Darnall, who was part owner in a hardware and home furnishings store at 1004 F Street, NW, and J. Carl Darnall, a plumber, at 234. The John L. McCreerys had moved to 232 by 1900 and remained there for more than 30 years. Meanwhile, Mary A. had moved to 310 North Carolina, SE. At some point in the mid 20th century the house was converted to a boarding house as evidenced by plumbing for individual sinks in each room.
Beverly Pringle and Mark Moran purchased the house in 2002 from a contractor named Ricardo Lindo who had bought the house in 2000 in order to renovate and resell. He gutted the house, leaving inside only the original front doors, curved plaster walls in the bay window of the living room, the staircase and banisters, and the flooring on the first and second floors. The staircase to the basement was removed, the passage sealed off, and a powder room was built under the staircase on the first floor. The south wall was stripped to lay bare the original brick and the pocket doors between the living and dining rooms were removed. When constructing the new interior walls, Lindo made the living room slightly larger and set off the smaller dining room with columns. The basement was finished into a one-bedroom apartment (not open), and the third level floorboards were replaced in entirety due to extensive roof leakage leading to rot.
Elliott Street was created in the middle of Square 1028 in 1889 when the Square was further sub-divided to accommodate several early developers, the first of which was Solomon Carr, the grandfather of Oliver T. Carr, a noted developer of modern day Washington. Solomon was born in England in 1847 and migrated to the US in 1874. He built his own house at 1355 Maryland Avenue—the strangely shaped house at the north end of Elliott—still standing but without its stable. He and his children also built the eight houses between 625 and 639 Elliott beginning in 1892 and ending in 1903 (see 1904 plat, right). Solomon died in 1900 but his children continued in the building trade. The 1910 census records Solomon’s son, Arthur, (owner and builder of 630) residing at 1320 G NE.
Charles A. Peters built the houses on the other side of the street—607 to 623—between 1908 and 1914 with A.H. Beers as the architect. Peters was born in 1855 and lived at 626 14th Street NE in 1900. These families were not just developing the area, but residing in it as well. A gentleman who has lived on 14th Street NE for seventy years remembers as a child hearing squabbles between immigrant neighbors from various European countries. They did not always get along well with each other but did get along nicely with his African-American family.
Elliott Street began to attract young people searching for housing bargains in the early 1980s and has since become a very cohesive neighborhood, easily integrating new neighbors with old.
619 (below left), 629 (above), and 630 (below right) Elliott Street, NE are on the Tour. While you are in the neighborhood, check out the guided mini walking tour of Elliott Street.
|Pierce School, 1375 Maryland Avenue, NE
Pierce School, 1893 – 1972
The Franklin Pierce Elementary School, named after the 14th President of the United States, was constructed in 1893 to educate white children in the neighborhood. Classes began in 1894 and continued through 1972, when the school closed after repeated attempts at integration had failed.
The city government used the school for three more years for special needs children until it fell in dire condition and closed. The school later reopened as a men’s homeless shelter, which operated until it was closed by public demand in 1991. Sitting abandoned and neglected, developers and Capitol Hill residents Chris Swanson and Jeff Printz’s company, Evolve LLC, purchased the property in 2000 and began the exciting yet arduous journey of restoring and renovating the school.
The completed project is purely remarkable. Mr. Swanson and Mr. Printz respectfully renovated the school into seven rental lofts and their own living space on the third floor and attic, all the while maintaining 95% of the original layout and character of the school building.
The two houses on original lot 9 in Square 983 were constructed together about 1872. While they started life as identical twins, they are now quite different, one retaining much of its original fabric while the other has lost its side yard and has been totally renovated—twice!
As built the two were mirror images of each other with two front windows and a single story porch. Each house had side and rear yards with an outhouse at the rear of the property. The houses were two stories high and three rooms deep with a cross hall and a stairs between the first and second rooms. The entrance was placed on the side leading into the cross hall. The third room—narrower than the first two—probably contained a kitchen on the ground floor. There were three bedrooms on the second floor and no basement. Some of the floor joists run completely across both houses. The chimneys, one in the front parlor and one in the back parlor of each house, shared common flues. The rear yards of both houses lost twenty feet to an alley expansion in 1937.
1119 and 1121 G Street, NE are on the Tour.
Moses Kelly acquired Square 892 in the 1860s. Born in 1820 in New Hampshire, Mr. Kelly came to Washington during the administration of Franklin Pierce who was a personal friend and served as Secretary of the Interior under James Buchanon. He then became cashier of the National Metropolitan Bank. He and his family lived at 507 E Street NW. The census records Kelly as owning $15,000 worth of property in 1860 but $150,000 in 1870. About 1873 Kelly built eight pairs of frame houses in Square 892: four on Seventh Street and four on Eighth. Two of these houses are on the Tour.
Each house had a side and rear yard, a one story porch, a front entrance to a stair hall, two rooms on the first floor and two rooms on the second floor. There was a two floor dogleg in the rear with the ground floor probably containing the kitchen. The outhouses were at the rear of the lots. The chimneys were on the exterior walls of each parlor and basements only appeared in later years with the advent of central heating.
Thirty years later the Square must have maintained a rather bucolic look with its open spaces and gardens. There still were only three additions to the Square: brick dwellings at 524 and 526 Eighth and at 711 F on the western side of the alley. Today, fifteen of the sixteen houses remain but only 531 Seventh retains its side yard. The sixteenth at 507 Seventh disappeared some years ago but has recently been replaced by an old looking new house.
The first residents were generally in their twenties and about half were government clerks, but there also were carpenters, commercial “agents,” a printer, a plumber and a county constable. John W. Work, a printer, lived in 528 Eighth with his wife and three daughters in 1875.
513 7th Street, NE and 528 8th Street, NE are on the Tour.
|Landmark Lofts at Senate Square, 215 I Street, NE
The nineteenth century meets the twenty-first century in style at the western end of historic H Street! Previously, from 1870 to 1974, the property served as a Home for the Aged under the direction of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Roman Catholic Order, and then home to the popular Capitol Children’s Museum until 2004. Square 751’s landmark building now has been transformed by Abdo Development into 44 luxury loft condominiums known as The Landmark Lofts at Senate Square. Couple this with the just completed Senate Square Towers, which house 450 luxury rental apartments located on the same square, and you have a first-rate example of historic preservation and “adaptive re-use”, while creating a gateway residential development for Washington’s burgeoning H Street corridor.
According to an unconfirmed tradition handed down within the Order, President Abraham Lincoln requested that the Sisters be invited to the United States in order to take care of the elderly parents of soldiers who died in the Civil War. In 1868 Father Ernest Lelievre, a priest associated with the Order, sailed from France to America to become an ambassador for the Little Sisters of the Poor to the bishops of the New World. After establishing foundations in New York, Cincinnati and New Orleans, the Washington, DC foundation was established in 1869. Upon outgrowing their first home at 924 G Street NW, Father Jacob Ambrose Walter, the fourth pastor of St. Patrick’s Church, helped the Sisters find the larger, 2.3 acre parcel at this H Street site in 1870.
A keystone found in the main building suggests that the main building, chapel and several support buildings were constructed in 1874. The patient facilities would be doubled in size following the issuance of a permit to construct a four story brick addition to the west of the original structure was issued on October 19, 1878. The cost was $11,000. A variety of support buildings such as stables and fuel sheds were added over the years. Brick sleeping quarters for the nuns replaced an earlier frame building in the 1890s (see 1904 plat). The last major addition took place in the early 1960s when the Little Sisters of the Poor added a 43-bed wing and an auditorium to the convent grounds.
The H Street commercial district near the convent was devastated by the 1968 riots. This, along with the following neighborhood adjustments, caused the Sisters to search for a new location for their Home for the Aged. The growth of the campus of the archdiocese near Catholic University offered the Sisters an opportunity to consolidate and relocate. The former convent remained vacant for five years until it became the home of the Capital Children’s Museum in 1979 with entrances on Third Street. For the next 25 years the Museum, one of only 30 children’s museums in the country, hosted some 200,000 visitors each year.
© Copyright 2001-2008, Capitol Hill Restoration Society. All rights reserved. Last updated May 6, 2008.
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