Prior to the Civil War.
Those Who Occupied Homes on F Street Northwest
Some Old-Time Incidents
Attached to Treaty of Ghent in Octagon House
Changes In Neighborhood
Dwellings Where Army and Navy Offices Resided --
Building Erected 100 Years Ago

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, date unknown

"Some time ago there appeared in one of the local newspapers a sketch of the old residence on F street between 17th and 21st streets northwest, giving the names of their present occupants," said an old Washingtonian to a Star reporter, "and while I was reading it my memory went back to the people who lived in those houses prior to the civil war.

"The first residence at the southwest corner of 17th and F streets was built and occupied by Gen. Towson, long the commissary general of the army. Later Gen. Grant lived in the house. It is now occupied by the government. On the south side of F street was a large brick house occupied by Purser Speiden of the navy. There were no other houses on that street then until the corner of 18th street was reached. The Octagon House at the northeast corner of New York avenue and 18th street was occupied by Col. Tayloe. I have heard my mother say that his servants wore scarlet livery, which provoked the English officers very much, as that was and still is the color of their uniform. Miss Virginia Tayloe and Mr. and Mrs. Henry Louis lived there until 1857.

Incident of Interest
"There is one incident in connection with the Octagon House that is very interesting. It is well known that when the White House was burned by the British, Col. Tayloe offered the house to Mr. Madison. While he occupied it the treat of peace, also known as the treat of Ghent, was signed there. The table on which it was signed is a round mahogany one with revolving drawers, all converging to a central point. It was inherited by a grandson, Ogle Tayloe of King George County, Va. I knew him very well. One day he asked me to sell the table for him, which I did. It was afterward take to California.

"Last year the American Institute of Architects, which now occupies the Octagon House, met in San Francisco. They heard of the table and succeeded in buying it. It was brought back to this city and now occupies a prominent place in the house from which it originally came.

"The house on the southwest corner of 18th and F streets was built by Henry K. Randall and there the fashionable wedding of Emily Randale and William B. Webb took place. On the opposite side of the street lived for many years William T. Carroll, for a long time clerk of the United States Supreme Court, and there the weddings of his four daughters took place. This house was built by Tench Ringgold, marshal of the District, who had three daughters and several sons, one of whom distinguished himself in the Mexican war and was killed. One of his daughters, Maria, married Dr. Thomas of this city. Mary remained single, and Sydney married Mr. White of Louisiana. Her son is now the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The Carroll estate sold the house to Chief Justice Fuller.

Homes of Army and Navy Officers
"The next house on F street was built and occupied by Capt. Gilliss of the navy, who was made superintendent of the old observatory and went there to live. Opposite the Gilliss house was the home of Capt. Richard Meade and his son Richard I. Meade. Opposite them was the residence of Capt. Sydney Smith Lee and his five sons, one of whom was Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. It was said that the Lee boys and Dick Meade stoned all the cats in the neighborhood. Col. Cooper, afterward adjutant general of the army, lived next door to the Lees. Mrs. Lee and Mrs. Cooper were sisters. There also lived in that square Charles Winder, who had two very popular daughters.

"At the southeast corner of 18th and G streets stands a brick house, probably built over a hundred years ago by Dr. Elzey, a prominent physician in his day. Dr. Elzey had no children, so he rented a part of the house to S.P. Chase, afterward Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, to be used as a school. The late Mr. James Colgate told me he went to school there to Mr. Chase, who awarded him a medal for his proficiency in Greek. It is interesting to know that three Chief Justices lived in this square.

"At the northeast corner of 20th and F streets is a remarkable brick house with extensive grounds. My recollection of it is that it was occupied by Capt. Steddman of the navy, and afterward by Baron Von Limbourg, who carried Miss Isabella Cass there. Strange to say, in all these many years neither the house nor the grounds has changed in appearance.

Old-Fashioned Corner Property
"There is a large old-fashioned brick house at the corner of 20th and F streets which was built by Mr. Ramsey. The lot extended through to G street, and the rear was used as a coal yard. It is probable that Mrs. Turnbull and her sister, Sophia, who married Mr. Krombaugh, were both married in this house. Col. Turnbull occupied the house just beyond on F street, and it is probable that all of Mrs. Turnbull's eight children were born there. Just beyond Col. Turnbull's was the town residence of Mrs. George Beale, some of whose descendants are living here. Her country residence was at Bloomingdale. The woodwork of the Beale house is all of solid mahogany. It is now an apartment house.

"At the corner of 21st and F streets stood for many years a double brick house, with a large garden attached. It was built for George Graham. Mrs. Jennie Davenport was born there. Mr. Graham's widow built a large brick house on 17th street, now owned by her grandson, Commander Richard Davenport. There remains only one house to speak of, and, indeed, that one does not remain, for it was pulled down and a large apartment house covers the site. I refer to the residence of Mr. Pleasonton.