Near Garfield Park
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, November 17, 1907 [pt. 7, p. 5]
The eastern portion of what is now Garfield Park and the adjacent streets, avenues and building squares have, since the early days of the city, undergone great changes in the conversion of farming lands into a well-populated portion of the capital city, and a wild waste of ground into well-kept parks. Nor is it devoid of historical interest, for it was here that the location of a building led to a controversy with Maj. L’Enfant, the engineer, and his dismissal from public service. And the original proprietor of Duddington Manor, which included the site of the Capitol, Daniel Carroll of Duddington, had his home there for more than fifty years, and until his death in 1849.
In the plan of the city the reservation was laid off and numbered 17, in the proclamation of President John Adams in 1796, was designated Town House Square. No such house was, however, located in it and the only suggested public use was as a site for the jail when nearly fifty years ago its removal from the northeast corner of Judiciary Square was contemplated. New Jersey and Virginia avenues interested it, the first with E and 1st streets, forming a triangle. Aside from the wagon tracks and footpath it was wide waste, through which the waters from a spring near the Carroll home ran into the canal which bounded it on the south.
When in 1791, the city was laid out the Carroll family was residing in Carrollburg, which was laid off by Charles Carroll, jr. in 1772. Daniel Carroll, the proprietor, contemplated the erection of a home and a building was started near New Jersey avenue and F street. The foundation had been dug and the wall started when Maj. L’Enfant, claiming that the public ground was encroached upon, ordered the work stopped and the foundation wall removed. A controversy followed, in which the commissioners figured, and it was claimed that L’Enfant showed disrespect to Mrs. Capt. Fenwick, the Carrolls’ mother. In March, 1792, L’Enfant and his assistant, Lieut. Roberdeau, tore out the work. It was this action, part at least, which led to L’Enfant’s dismissal.
Square 736, on the east, between 1st, 2d, E and F streets, on high ground and well wooded, was then selected as the site of the home. On it was erected the fine structure long known as Duddington, but now a thing of the past, swallowed up by long rows of modern dwellings on the four sides of the square and on Heckman street, running through it. Mr. Carroll erected there a brick structure of the colonial style. It was two stories and attic, 70 ˝ by 22 feet, with high ceilings and spacious apartments, and was in good condition when razed to make room for modern improvements.
Ideal Home for Gentleman
East of Duddington, square 765, between 2d, 3d and E streets and North Carolina avenue, twelve lots were allotted to Mr. Carroll in 1796. It remained in Mr. Carroll’s name until 1830 unimproved, and in 1802 the ground was started at 6 cents value after falling to half that amount, at which it remained for fifty years. Maj. Nicholson of the Marine Corps, who married a daughter of Mr. Carroll’s, erected a three-storied brick building there.
South of the reservation, square 737, between 1st, H and 2d streets and the canal, was slow in taking on city airs. A spring in the northwest portion was the head of the stream which flowed in 2d street to the Eastern branch, and this later fell in the lines of the canal. It was one lot originally, and vested in Mr. Carroll in 1796, it stood in his name till 1829, when it was conveyed to Moses Tabbs and others, trustees, to sell. In 1835 it went to Timothy Wrenn, and a few years later to Thomas Blagden. This square east, between Virginia avenue, 2d, 3d, and I streets, had some little settlements very early. In the original nine lots were laid off, which were vested in Mr. Carroll in 1796. It was bought by Thomas Law the following year. Two cents was the value of the ground in the early days and no improvements are listed. In 1808 a lease appears to Levi White of a lot on I street and in 1810 William B. McGelton and James Smith had leases on I street. In 1811 David Lewis had a lease there. In the twenties no advance had been made in the value of ground, and $175 was assessed to Smith on lot 5 on I street and the following year E. Casteel was assessed for $150 on the adjoining lot south.
The three squares east of the park, between South Carolina and Virginia avenues, Nos. 795, 796 and 797, bounded on the east of the Prout tract and in the division in 1795 the first part went to Mr. Carroll and the others to the United States. No. 795 was laid off in twenty-four lots and they remained idle for many years. Moses Tabbs and others in 1829 were trustees to sell these lots and in the next decade there were some sales. In 1832 in lot 1, corner of 4th and G streets, S.P. Franklin, M.D.; C. Marche and G.W. Tyron held title; Thomas Howard bought lots 4 to 8 on 3d and G streets and 11 to 14 on the northwest corner of the square, and Peter M. Pearson 9 and 10 on 3d street. The next year J.W. Walker bought lots 18 and 19, including the corner of South Carolina avenue and 4th street; and Thomas Blagden lot 15 on South Carolina avenue. In the forties there is record of a bill of sale for a frame house to T.C. Newman.
The square on the south, 797, between Virginia avenue, 3d and 4th streets, was in the old days the scene of more activity in real estate than the foregoing. There were only five original lots, but in 1811 a subdivision was made into ten lots. In 1796 Messrs. Dunlop and Cariton owned the square which in 1800 went to John May, and in 1804 to Frederick May. In 1805 Thomas Bowen, George Bell and Elexius Middleton were lot owners.
It was then that the first school for colored children was started. George Bell, Nicholas Franklin and Moses Liverpool, former slaves, about 1805, employed in the navy yard, provided for giving their and other children of their race some education, and erected in the name of Bell a frame building and engaged a Mr. Lowe as teacher. The school was maintained for several years and after a hiatus in 1818 was reopened with a Mr. Pierpont as teacher, the Resolute Beneficial Society first and the Bethel Society later supporting it.
One Hundred Years Ago
In the twenties 4 cents per foot was the valuation of the ground, and the improvements were assessed as follows: J.P. Van Ness, $1,300; George Bell, $100; C. Tippett, $100; W.H. Barnes, $500; G. Thompson, $450; L. Hanson, $250; B. Edelin, $50; P. Bowen, $100; S. Forrest, $100; S. Rigsby, $300, and Thomas Smith, $500 and $450. Ten years later 3 to 6 cents was the ground value. Van Ness was assessed for $500; Bell $350; Tippett, $350 and an additional $100; Barnes reduced to $200; Forrest reduced to $50; Rigsby and Smith each to $200, and May was assessed $300.
There remain on Virginia avenue the houses occupied by the Middletons, Dempsie and Smallwood. In the twenties Mordecai Booth, the commandant’s clerk at the navy yard; John Thomas, a ship carpenter; Stanislaus Rigsby, a blacksmith, were on the avenue; the Middleton family had moved to 3d street southeast, and in the neighborhood were the Bowens, Hansons, Smiths and Forrests.
In the thirties Mrs. Casteel was at 4th street and Virginia avenue, and later J.F. Morton, James Owner and M. Farley were on Virginia avenue and a number of colored families were on I street.