Back to the Year 1795
Construction of First Habitation in Square 457
Assessed Values in 1803
Twenty-Six Lots, One-Half Owned by United States Government
Old-Time Washington Data
Advances in Price Shown in 1835 and Later – Some of the Property Holders

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, November 19, 1906 [p. 12]

The first habitation to be erected in the square between D, E, 6th and 7th streets, in which Odd Fellows’ Hall is located, known as square 457, was built about the year 1795. The structure was on lot 18, on E street, in which Andrew Jameson resided. Two years later James Maitland was in possession. The former was assessed on $600 and the latter $100 for improvements in 1803.

In that square there were twenty-six original lots; and in the partition between the original proprietor, Burns, and the United States the former took lots at the northeast and southeast corners and the United States the other corners. When the corporation assumed jurisdiction the valuation of the ground was three and five cents, and in 1807 three cents was fixed for the whole square. As before stated, improvements were, in 1803 listed to Jamison $600 and Maitland $100 on lot 18. In 1807 John Caton was assessed on $80 near the corner of 7th and E streets, and John Major on $150 at 6th and E streets. In 1803 Robert McClan acquired lot 26, now included in the site of the Stewart building at the corner of 6th and D streets. It is not known exactly when or by whom the building long known as the Hewitt house was erected. But when it was demolished, to make room for a more modern structure, in removing the thirteen coats of paper from the walls, a name with the date 1804 was found written on the wall. It was a three-story and attic brick house. In 1809 it was purchased by Washington Boyd, United State marshal, who lived there a few years, and in 1815 it was bought with adjoining lots on the corner and on D street by Mr. Wm. Hewitt, the city register, who resided there until his death in the late thirties. Gen. Walter Jones afterward lived there, having his law office in a two-story building adjoining on the south. Crutchat, a noted chef of his day, occupied the house in the sixties, having Gen. Winfield Scott and other noted men as guests. Major Charles S. Wallach after the war resided and had his law office there, and for several years before its demolition there were a number of law offices in the building, among them those of Col. W. A. Cook and Judge C. C. Cole.

Owners on 7th Street.
John Caton, John Clary and Patrick Donohoe in 1807 were owners of lot 15, on 7th street, south of E street, the former being assessed on only $80. He, however, improved the valuation in the twenties by $250. In 1804 John Major had a lease on lot 22 on 6th street, and in 1807 a house worth $150. This lease he assigned to Brooke Edmonston in 1813, and the latter acquiring the title in full, erected thereon a house valued at $900, which, before the thirties, gave way to a brick residence assessed at $2,150. It was long the residence of the family and heirs. Major acquired, in 1813, the adjoining lot on the south on which, in the twenties, he was assessed on $200 improvement, as was Thomas F. Anderson. In the thirties each had a fine two-story basement and attic brick dwelling of the assessed value of $8,300. Mr. Major was a carpenter and builder and erected the house as his home. Mr. Anderson, a clerk in the office of the controller of the treasury for nearly half a century, lived there until he was nearly ninety years of age.

John C. Calhoun, then Secretary of War, in 1818 bought part of lot 16 and all of lot 17 on E street, and there he resided during the Monroe administration, when it was one of the local centers of the capital. His property was assessed at $6,000. Senator James Barbour of Virginia, Secretary of War and minister to England under President J. Q. Adams, next owned it. His reputation as a hospitable Virginia gentleman was fully sustained there.

The Catons – John, a hatter, and Michael, a printer – were neighbors. The latter is well remembered as one of the old-time printers long connected with the Congressional Globe, and one of the original members of the Oldest Inhabitants. Before 1820 the house adjoining the Hewitt residence on 6th street was owned by Capt. Philip Mauro, one of the first auctioneers, and a leading spirit in military affairs, being long commander of the German Yeagers, the first German military company in the city. At the southeast corner of 7th and E streets was a grocery conducted by one Lowry, in the teens of the century, the building being a three-story brick valued in the twenties at $3,000. Messrs. Semmes & Picknell became the owners about 1820, and were in the grocery business there until the thirties, when T. F. Beall and S. N. Washburn successively carried on the business. In the forties J. D. Evans, a merchant tailor, was located there. The dwelling portion of the building was, in the twenties, the residence of Mrs. M. Smith and afterward John Suter, a post office clerk lived there, the family being there till the fifties. In a frame house near the site of Odd Fellows’ Hall was the grocery and feed store of Thomas Levering, one of the conveniences being an ancient pump of fine water. It was for many years a great resort for country people. In the twenties, in addition to those mentioned, were Mr. Michael Flanigan, at the corner of 7th and D streets, and on the latter street, Washington Lewis, a well known gunsmitth, one of the leading Odd Fellows of his day, and on 6th street lived John and James Bowen; the first named a guard at the jail and the latter a constable, who, for many years, was a conservator of the peace in the auxiliary guard and in corporation service.

Appreciated in Value.
By 1835 the ground had appreciated to sixty cents per foot on the corner of 7th at D and E streets down to 25 cents in other portions, and the interior lots were down to eight cents in value. In the latter at that period was a hog wallow, and though the law prohibited swine going at large the animal’s did not know it, and the people were averse to proceeding against their neighbors’ hogs, consequently little there was to prevent hog wallowing, other than the infrequent attempts to capture the animals by the corporate police, and by the mischievous pranks of the boys. It is related by some old residents that the place in question was as attractive for the fun loving as was Odd Fellows’ Hall in the height of old-time negro minstrelsy a decade later. Some few there are who recall a certain occasion when a large specimen of live pork was saddled and a marine in uniform successfully rode the animal down the street to the market, when the marine fell or was thrown off amid the laughter of hundreds.

That the lots facing the streets named had improved the valuations by the assessors show: M. Flanigan listed for $1,000, Thomas Levering, $1,400, and Semmes & Pickrell, $3,000, on 7th street; John Caton $3,000, James Barbour $6,000, William Benning $7,000, G. P. Maxwell $250, on E street; G. C. Grammer $2,250, Brooke Edmonston heirs $2,250, John Major $3,300, T. F. Anderson $3,300, P. Mauro $3,200 and W. Hewitt $2,800 on 6th street, and C. Lyons $900. Hannah Allen $1,000, T. Lloyd $1,100, M. Jeffers $200, S. Bacon $1,200, and J. A. Kennedy $100, on D street.

At 7th and D Streets.
About 1835 the corner of 7th and D streets, lot 8, was owned by John Walker, the butcher, who had a meat store there for many years. For a long time it was a book and stationery store, and it was there that The States, a democratic newspaper, was published in ante-bellum days. It was on that sheet that George W. Adams, long correspondent of the New York World, and a member of The Evening Star Newspaper Company, and John J. Johnson, for many years a member of the bar of the District, received their journalistic training. The same year John C. McKelden came from the Patterson bakery on I street near 19th street, bought lot 12, on 7th street, and established the bakery long conducted under the name of McKelden & Co. Mrs. Elisabeth Lee the following year, bought the Mauro property on 6th street, and a few years later R. C. Washington and A. H. Young bought on D street, and then Dr. A. McDonald Davis bought on E street, where he resided for a long time. Francis Mattingly bought on 7th street above Odd Fellows’ Hall in 1839, and long conducted the hat and cap business there and greatly improved the property, which is still in the family, Mr. W. F. Mattingly having his law offices there.

There were in the '30’s on 6th street Mrs. Edmonston, Thos. F. Anderson, clerk; Philip Mauro, auctioneer; Wm. Hewitt, city register and justice of the peace; Joseph Bryan, John Major, Silas Moore and Ignatius Edelin, carpenters; Conrad Schwartz, draughtsman, Navy Department; Gen. Roger Jones, U.S.A.; Z. Collins Lee, lawyer; Ed McCubbin, barber, John Nelson, hatter. On E street, John C. Calhoun, Secretary of War; Michael Caton, printer; John Caton, hatter; R. S. Coxe, lawyer; James A. Kennedy, clerk, and Mrs. Rice; and later Samuel Bacon, grocer; Wm. H. Campbell, Leonidas Coyle, Richard S. Coxe and P. R. Fendall, lawyers; Mrs. Walker and R. C. Washington.

On 7th street were John Walker’s provision store; Madison Jeffers, carpenter; J. C. McKelden, baker; T. F. Semmes and S. N. Washburn, grocers, and Enoch White, printer.

In the '40’s there were John Walker’s provision store, W. J. Brown, William Gumaer, C. S. Fowler’s china store; after Fowler & Webb, Webb & Beveridge, from whom the present firm of Dulin & Martin descended; J. W. Berry & Co., commission merchants; G. L. Gilchrist, grocer; J. C. McKelden’s bakery, Francis Mattingly, hatter; Odd Fellows Hall, Henry Thorn’s wood yard, Richard Tonge, tinner, and Miss E. Tonge, dressmaker; J. H. Whitemore, boot and shoe dealer; John Wilkins, barber, and J. D. Evans, tailor, at the southeast corner of 7th and E streets, Mrs. Suter occupying the upper part of the house.

West Side of 6th Street.
On the west side of 6th street was the law office and residence of Gen. Walter Jones; at the corner of D street the old Hewitt House; adjoining were Gen Roger Jones, adjutant general, U.S.A.; S. Murray, Mrs. Cheshire, Dr. J. R. Piper, Mrs. Mary Edmonston, Elijah Edmonston, A. O. Dayton, fifth auditor; T. F. Aanderson, Bailey Washington and others.

On D street were Mrs. Betsy Handy, William Martin, constable and afterward justice of the peace; J. B. Boone, wood dealer; C. H. Mauck, gunsmith; John T. Mitchell, hatter and long a leading volunteer fireman; Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Hazeltine, Mrs. L. E. Berry; Capt. James P. Kean, bookbinder, the predecessor of Capt. Tate as commander of the Washington Light Infantry, and Mrs. Cochran’s boarding house, a favorite home for printers, where resided George W. Cochran.

Andrew Rothwell in 1841 bought parts of lots 19 and 20 for the E Street Baptist congregation, and what for sixty or more years was the E Street Baptist Church, representing that faith in the section, was erected and did service. Last under the ministrations of Rev. Dr. Muir, the congregation migrated to the corner of 10th and M streets a few years since to a new edifice called the Temple Baptist church. The old building with site was purchased by the Knights of Columbus and is their hall today.

Site of Odd Fellows’ Hall.
The site of Odd Fellows’ Hall April 7, 1845, was purchased and a deed was made to W. W. Moore, Washington Lewis, William G. Deale, John Sessford, jr., William B. Magruder and others on behalf of the Grand Lodge of the I. O. O. F. At that time the meetings of Central, Washington, Columbia, Beacon and Metropolis lodges, and Columbian and Magenenu encampments and the grand bodies were being held in the city hall, in the council chambers, and it was for their use that the hall was projected. The work was commenced soon thereafter, and in the following year the lodges found permanent lodge rooms as well as one of the largest halls in the city suitable for balls, entertainments, etc. From the first it was a popular place, especially for minstrel shows and panoramas. There Kunkel’s Serenaders and other troupes performed for weeks.

In the late thirties Mr. Henry Thorn occupied several lots about the present site of Odd Fellows Hall with a wood and coal yard, having his residence on E street. Several lots south were vacant, and in the Clay-Polk campaign the boys employed on the Intelligencer, with others, utilized them by erecting a pole and stand, where some future campaign orators got in the practice of predicting the country’s ruin if their candidates failed to be elected.