Southeast Section
Owners of Real Estate in Early Days of City
Providence Hospital Site
Folger Square, Eighty Years Ago, Was a Common
Original Ground Values
United States as Holder of Title
Trustees of Washington Academy Exchange Lots

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, November 8, 1908 [p. 22]

By reason of the location of the avenue known as North Carolina south of D street, intersection 2d and 3d streets southeast in the original plan of the city was left this space, which now bears the name Folger Square. Under the care of the national government it has become one of the many well-kept parks of the Capital city. For more than eighty years, however, it was only an open common, and for that matter so were the adjacent squares, which had been laid off into building lots, for much of the period. Very slowly improvements were made on them. Nevertheless in the vicinity was located one of the two public schools a hundred years ago. Nearly as long ago was ground secured by the Sisters of Charity on which Providence Hospital was located during the civil war, and in and about D street east of the square in the forties was a village-like settlement. Doubtless there are very many residents of this city who remember their school-boy days when a recess time and before and after school hours there was little danger of disturbing neighbors, for the schoolhouse was at the corner of 3d and D streets.

The square north of Folger Square, No. 763, between C, D, 2d and 3d streets, was in 1796 divided equally between Mr. Carroll and the United States, each taking eight lots. The original valuation of the ground was 1 ˝ cents per foot, and there appear no improvements in the records down to 1840, by which time 1 cent more had been added to the valuation and no change had been made as to title. In 1837 the lots assigned to Mr. Carroll were deeded to Georgetown College.

Site of Providence Hospital
Title to square 764 between 2d, 3d, D and E streets, the site of Providence Hospital, was vested in the United States and Mr. Carroll, the former taking the east half, seven lots, in 1796. Capt. James Barry, in 1799, acquired the east half of the square. In 1801 the lot at the southeast corner of 2d and D streets was conveyed by Mr. Carroll to his mother, Mrs. Mary Fenwick, who had previously resided in Carrollsburg. There was erected a fine frame residence on a little knoll, which, in 1802, bore a valuation of $2,000, and which was in good condition when in the sixties it was demolished. The ground was valued at 3 cents on the first assessment rolls, and reduced to half that rate until the twenties, when 3 cents was again charged and remained at that figure till the forties. In 1827 Rev. Louis R. Deboul, D.D., acquired lots 4 to 9, nearly half the square, fronting on 2d, D and E streets. Father Deboul was the superior of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, who had about that time located in St. Patrick’s parish, and to these he conveyed the lots in 1830. John Coyle in 1834 was the owner of the east half of the square, lots 1 to 3, and 10 to 14, and about ten years later, James R. Ferguson owned lot 1 corner of 3d and E streets, and 14, adjoining on the north.

The ground owned by the Sisters, as stated, during the civil war became the site of Providence Hospital. In the first year of the war, 1861, the Sisters were at the Washington Infirmary, north of the court house in Judiciary Square, and on he night of November 3 of that year the building was destroyed by fire. It was a three-storied structure, the center portion of which had been in use as the jail from 1804 to 1838, and during the war it had become a military hospital, a number of frame wards supplementing the accommodations in the old building. In these the Sisters were engaged till the establishment of Providence Hospital on its present site in 1864, they having in the meantime acquired all the square. The first building was of moderate dimensions, but appropriations of $30,000 were made by Congress in 1866 and 1868, and additions were made.

East of Folger Square the lines of North Carolina avenue, C, 3d and 4th streets form square 791. This was cut into five lots which in 1797 were divided between William Prout and Mr. Carroll.

Value of Ground
Three cents per foot was the value first placed on the ground. Afterward it was reduced to half that rate. Then 2 cents became the value in 1820 and remained so for twenty years. Little change was made in the ownership of the lots. Not till 1832 did title leave the original owners, when lot 5, at 3d and C streets, passed to B. Simms, who later acquired lot 4 thus owning the west front of the square. In 1834 Edward Castul owned lot 3, on C street, and Henry Hatton a sublot on 3d street.

South of the above, square 792, between 3d, 4th and D streets and North Carolina avenue, showed more development in the early days than others. It was plotted for eleven lots, title to which was vested in Carroll, Prout and the United States in 1797. Benjamin Stoddert in 1801 owned lot 9, the northeast corner of the square. The next year Gen. Van Ness owned three lots and Elexius Middleton lot 1, corner of 4th and D streets. Two cents per foot was the ground value in 1802, and later less, and in the thirties 3 cents. In 1807 a two-hundred-and-fifty-dollar improvement on lot 1, corner 4th and D streets, was charged to James Middleton, and in the thirties to P. Stewart. Jason Ross in 1805 had the corner of North Carolina avenue and 4th street, and in 1808 James Bassett had lots 2 and 11, near 4th and D streets.

Thomas Munroe, superintendent of Washington city, in 1806 conveyed part of lot 5, at the northeast corner of 3d and D streets, to Mr. Carroll, and two years later appears a deed of it to Elias B. Caldwell and William Brent, trustees of the Washington Academy, which is recited that it is exchanged for lot 6, square 761, corner of Pennsylvania avenue and 2d street. There was established one of the two public schools of Washington, known then as Academy East and later as the Eastern Lancasterian, Eastern and Third District Public School.

Early Day Teachers
It was better known in the old days by the names of the teachers, among whom were E.D. Tippett, L.B. True, Hugh McCormick, William McCathran, John Fill and Thomas Goldsmith. The building was a one-story brick, and within its walls many East Washington people learned the three R’s—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmeic—and prepared for higher studies.

In the twenties, Rev. A.T. McCormick, rector of Christ Church; Edward S. Lewis of the Treasury; Samuel N. Smallwood, lumber merchant and ex-mayor; George Watterson, librarian of Congress; Maj. Samuel Miller of the United States Marines; Daniel Rapine, printer and bookseller, former mayor; and Matthew Wright, a navy yard merchant, were the trustees. When the city was redistricted N.C. Towle, then of the Post Office Department; R.M. Coombs, a dry goods merchant, and Mr. Watterson were made trustees.

Isaac S. Middleton in 1811 owned in lot I, corner 4th and D streets, and lots 2 and 11, adjoining, went to George Andrews soon thereafter. M. Myers had lot 9, at the corner of North Carolina avenue and 4h street. In 1821 Griffith Coombs purchased in lots 4 and 5, on D street, which in 1828 passed to J.H. Beans and others and R. Robertson had lot 9, at the northeast corner of the square, in 1825.

In the Thirties
In the thirties a seven-hundred dollar improvement was assessed to Beans and others in lot 5, east of the school, and James Middleton had $250 in improvements at 4th and D streets.

Square 703, of fourteen lots, fronting 3d, 4th, D and E streets, was apportioned to Carroll Prout and the United States in 1796, and the west half of lots 3 to 9 was bought in 1799 by James Barry, who in 1801 added lot 10 on D street. The original valuation of 3 cents per foot was reduced to 2 cents in 1807, but 3 cents again prevailed for nearly fifty years. Mr. Barry’s holdings in 1820 went to Gen. P. Stewart, and in 1834 to Charles Bennett. George Adams bought lots 11 to 13, which included the corner lots 11 to 13 which included the corner of 4th and D streets about that time, and George Collard later bought them.

There were only a few residents in this section in the twenties. Tippett’s School, as the public school at 3d and D streets was then known, had for its neighbors John H. Downs, a carpenter; John Jeffers, a shoemaker; John Beans and Mrs. Howard on D street. Twenty years later William Garner and William Eckles, blacksmiths; James Parker, slater; Mrs. Knox and Sol. Moe Bean were there, as also were Isaac Bartley and Thomas Cephus at the corners of 4th and D streets. Michael Dooley on 4th street between C and D streets. S. Simms on 4th street between D and E streets and Reuben Burdine at 2d and G streets, on the site of Providence Hospital.