Sluice Run Section
Settlement of That Area Several Generations Ago
East of Franklin Square
Infantile Boom in the Period of Early Development
Building Lots Were Spacious
Enough Room for Front Yards and Gardens –
The Original Houses Widely Separated

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, August 5, 1906 [pt. 4, p. 1]

The Sluice Run, or the "down-by-marsh market" neighborhood, three or four generations ago was the scene of early settlement. Though the run, which crossed 10th street south of H street and turned southward to intermingle with the waters of Franklin Square springs and with those of the Tiber was an unsightly object, houses had been built very near it in 1800.

On Pennsylvania avenue, and especially on E and F streets, prior to 1820 there were many property improvements, and, though compared with the business of today, the real estate transactions connected therewith constituted a mere speck, there was a veritable infantile boom in the early period of the development of that section. The improvements in those days were seldom more than detached buildings. Few of the squares were so plotted that each lot was large enough for front or back garden connected with the building. Even in that square bounded by the avenue, D, 9th and 10th street, where today there are perhaps fifty houses and subdivisions there were but eleven original lots, eight of them being on the avenue.

Thomas Law was one of the early land owners who had property north of the avenue in 1797, possessing six of the eleven lots in the square, nearly all on the avenue, but in five years he conveyed them to William Brent. On the corporation's taking charge the valuation of the ground was placed at 12 cents per foot in 1802 at 16 in 1807, and in 1825 it reached 60 to 80 cents. The property of M. Atkinson, assessed at $1,000, and that of Gillespie and Strong at $1,200, was in lot eleven at the southwest corner of 9th and D streets. Whalen and Crowley’s property, consisting of lot three, on Pennsylvania avenue west of 9th street, was assessed about this time at $350. William Morgan in 1807 bought a part of lot 11 and transferred it to S. Myer, but Andrew and George May, printers, had bought lot 11 in 1805 and had to pay taxes at a valuation of $2,500. In 1811 they also bought lot one, the southeast corner of the square, thus acquiring the 9th street front. In 1820 Jacob Gideon became a property owner on the square, purchasing parts of lots 11 and 12.

About a Century Ago
About 1810 parts of lot 3 on the avenue went to Lawrence O'Connor, James Gannon, Joseph Moore and James Donoho; Samuel Speake took lease on lots 6 and 7, which he afterward assigned to George Moore, and N. Travers bought lot 5. About 1815 David and P. Mauro purchased part of lot 2. Capt. S. Burch bought part of lot 3, John Ott purchased part of lot 4, W. Cooper part of lots 6 and 7, B.M. Belt and George Moore part of lot 7. In 1818 James M. Varnum bought Dr. Thornton's lot, No. 8, the west end of the square fronting on D and 10th streets and the avenue, on which he erected a row of plain brick buildings, the lower portion for stores and the upper stories for dwellings. This was the "Varnum's row," well-known to the grandfathers of the present generation.

In 1820 Dr. William Gunton purchased part of lot 1, at the corner of 9th street, described in the deed as adjoining the houses occupied by Dr. Cutbush, U.S.N., and Micajah Tucker. Here Dr. Gunton carried on the drug business, which has continuously been located there. R.S. Patterson and J.W. Naun, his clerks, succeeded him. About this time Parker Palmer and J. Leonard occupied houses on lot 5 under leases, and John Gardner had a lease on part of lot 7 a part of which was sold to Mary B. Varnum. Michael Shanks, who had a nail factory near 4-1/2 and N streets southwest before, was then conducting a china and glass store located on the north side of the avenue on parts of lots 3 and 6. Maj. Robert Keyworth, a watchmaker and jeweler, and James Moore had leases on parts of lot 9, and Francis Masi bought part of 3 on which he lived with his brothers Seraphim and Vincent.

In 1825 the valuation of the improvements were: On lot 1, property of William Gunton, $6,940, including $400 on a stable; A. and G. Way, $10,000; lot 2, P. Mauro, auctioneer, $3,000, and D. Otto, $3,300; lot 3, Robert Keyworth, $700; Michael Shanks, $900 and $300; lot 5, N. Traverse, $800, and C.W. Cooper, $8,200; lot 7, B.N. Bell, 42,700; lot 8, J.M. Varnum, $14,000; part lots 10 and 11, G. and A. Way, $2,200; Way and Gideon, $1,200, and Jacob Gideon, $1,100.

First Houses Erected
Among the buildings on the square in the twenties were the Patriotic Bank, the fancy goods store of Martha Seaver, the dry goods houses of I.H.B. Morton, Gardner and Ennals Colston and Lookerman, C.T. Coote; and the drug stores of Dr. Gunton and J. Dockworth, apothecaries, as druggists were then called; the stores of P. Palmer, hatter; Way & Gideon, printers; A. Way, printer; Mary Wedd, dressmaker; U. Dunn, broker, and the residences of E. Cutbush, U.S.N.; A. Bradley, ware dealer; John Latrust, J. Leonard, R. Keyworth, S. Masi; the stores of Fales & Stowers and R. Jones, jewelers. J.B. Holmead and Pontius D. Stelle lived in Varnum's row. The latter was prominent before 1800 as the proprietor of Stelle's Hotel on Capitol Hill, and also as secretary of the common council.

Avenue Front of Square
The avenue front of the square was a solid block of three-story brick dwellings, with stores by 1845, with the exception of one or two small brick and frame houses about the center and the two houses of Dr. Gunton and Dr. James C. Hall used entirely for dwellings. About this time Robert S. Patterson succeeded to the management of Dr. Gunton's drug store, in which he had long been a clerk. Robert Keyworth, S. Masi and James Galt had long been established as watchmakers and jewelers. There was the hardware store of E. Lindsley, the variety store of George Savage, the auction house of William Marshall, the paperhanging and upholstery houses of S.P. Franklin and Douglass Moore, the fancy stores of Selby Parker, Julius Visser and Lewis Clephane. The corner of 10th street was then occupied by W.Q. Force as a stationery store, and later was the banking house of Lewis Johnson, now located on F street.

The office of Dr. William Bode, the wine store of Julius Peters, the confectioneries of George Norbeck and J.L. Downs, the dental offices of R. Finley Hunt, L. Parmelee, the milinery establishment of Miss Morrell and Miss H.L. Morley, dressmaking rooms of Miss Little, John Allen's dry goods store were in this vicinity. George and William Hall, sheet iron workers, were also located here. Following these were the John Davis music store, Claverdecher and F. Clitch's fancy stores, Oppenheimer's clothing store, in which the head of the great Siegel Company of New York and Chicago then clerked.

In the fifties Michael Shanks erected the iron front building known successively by his name, Iron Hall, Risley's Varieties and Metzerott's Hall. In the lower portion were the china store of Mr. Shanks, C.W. Boteller & Co. and the music house of W.G. Metzerott & Co., now E.F. Droop.

The hall in antebellum days was a peculiar one, especially when it bore the name of Risley's Varieties, when John Risley catered to the public by giving our predecessors a taste of vaudeville.

There were on the 9th street side of the square T.L. Thurston, Joe Shorter, barber; Matlock & Griffith, tailors; J. and G.S. Gideon’s printing office, W. Harper, shoemaker.

On the south side of D street were David Westerfield, cabinet maker, and William Burrows, carpenter.

The square between 9th, 10th, D and E streets, as is known, is a very large on. It originally contained twenty-six lots. There was prior to 1800 little change in the title of the lots, most of them held apparently for speculation, but the first quarter of the corporate existence of Washington a number of transfers were made. The first ground valuation was 7 cents per foot, but it was reduced to 3. In twenty years it had risen from 8 to 20 cents. W.S. Chandler, and S. Etting were among the early holders of lots, and the first to improve them were Samuel Bacon on lot on 10th street north of D street, $250; George Moore on E street east of 10th street, $800; J. Thecker, $150 and $300, at the corner of 9th and E streets assessed to James Gannon in 1807 at $1,600; James Kearney, $400, on property on 9th street, and E. Fallon $250, on lot on 9th street assessed in 1807 to Taylor and Toland for $150.

Increase in Realty Values
By 1825 there were over $25,000 worth of improvements listed as follows: On D street, Thomas Donoho, $1,000 on lot 1, bought by P. Donoho in 1807; W. Cooper, $200, and B.M. Belt, $450, parts of lot 6 in 1816; R. Easter, $250, part of lot 7 leased in 1818; Peter Force, $1,550, corner 10th and D streets, lot 8 leased 1819; on 10th street, James Moore, $1,500; lot 9 and part of lot 10, E. DeKraft, $1,500 in 1811; part of the same lot, H. Ryan and N.W. Fales, $1,000; lot 11, G. Clark, $2,600; lot 12, J. Dennison, $350, and C. Glover, $2,500; on E street, lot 15, E. Edmonson, $150; G. Moores, $500; lot 6, C. DeKraft, $2,200; lots 20 and 21, J. Gannon, $3,600; on 9th street, lot 24, E. Holland, $800; T. Moore, M. King and S. Holtzman, $2,200, and T.W. Pairo, $125.

In 1805 Mr. John McClelland, who was extensively engaged in brick making, bought lot 9 on 10th street north of D street owned originally by Samuel Bacon and later by Peter Force.

Edward DeKraft became a property owner on the square in 1810; H. Ryan and N. W. Faels at the same time, and George Clark a year later. Mr. Pairo leased part of a lot on 9th near D street in 1814; Mr. Glover bought 10th street property in 1815, A. De Millierre bought property on D street and J. Gannon leased property on D street in 1807.

In the 20s there resided on this square Maj. Thomas Donoho, long connected with the Intelligencer, at the northwest corner of 9th and D streets; G. Barnelle, printer, southeast corner of 10th and E streets; John Chase, grocer, northeast corner of the same streets; W. Magee, John O'Male, weaver; W. Leowery, bricklayer, J. Bellamy Butler, carpenter, and T. Warner, shoemaker; Thomas Murray tavern keeper; Z. Dove, carpenter; W. Gahan, shoemaker; B. Ginney, M. King, printer; Abram Boss, carpenter, and J. Cunningham, printer, on 9th street; James Moore, a clerk; Charles Glover, clerk; Dr. N.P. Causin, John Dennison, bricklayer, and James Taylor, on 10th street; James Kinzla, carpenter, on D street.

Business Houses and Residences
Maj. Thomas Donoho, long with the National Intelligencer, lived at the northwest corner of 9th and D streets, and his son, T.S., a lawyer, next door. On D street resided J.L. Clubb, long in the marine service, then a messenger in the Senate, prominent in musical circles. John Foy, in the Republic House, afterward Cook's; James Johnson, shoemaker; Henry Knowles, machinist in patent office.

At the corner of 10th and D streets was located the two-story brick printing office of Col. Peter Force, in which the business of Davis & Force had been carried on, used by him as such, and after for his extensive library. Col. Force and his son, William Q., lived each north of this building. On 10th street north Mr. John Boyle and the well-known Dr. Cornelius Boyle; Thomas Burch, carpenter; Benjamin Chambers, engraver; Mrs. Slye, boarding house.

On the south side of E street were Mr. Ward's grocery, at the corner of 9th street, Miss Rowan dressmaker, Thomas Jenna, clerk; E.J. Eastman, clerk; John Cunningham, printer, and Devaughn's ice house. Later Samuel Devaughn lived at the southwest corner of 9th and E streets, having a row of several small brick houses on 9th street. On the corner was the grocery of Sidney De Camp, and south were J. Korff's tin shop and Mrs. Murray's boarding house.