Section Near Dupont Circle Long Neglected
Land Sold For a Song
Quarter of a Cent a Foot the Price in 1843
Some of the Early Owners
W.W. Corcoran, Gen. Lingan and Peter Hagner
Among Them. First Summer Garden.

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, January 20, 1909 [p. 12]

One of the sections of Washington the remarkable growth of which in recent years evidently was not anticipated by the early inhabitants of the District of Columbia is that lying to the southeast of Dupont Circle, bounded on the north by P street, on the south by L street, on the east side of 16th street and on the west by 18th street. The present condition of this section need not be commented upon, and every one familiar with its advancement during the past twenty years knows of the rapidity of its development. Yet individual and municipal improvements were long conspicuous by their absence in the locality.

When other sections of the city were beginning to grow old this section was almost a wilderness. In 1830 a straggling village was beginning to appear on the land which is now bounded by L and M and 18th and 19th street, but elsewhere in the neighborhood the houses at that time were few in number and isolated. All the improvements of half a century's growth represented the expenditure of but a few thousand dollars.

It is difficult to realize the conditions of the past, when much of this land was open, whole squares being unoccupied. Old Slash run was of little use except for carrying off the rainfall and the offal of a few slaughter houses.

The most of this section, when the ground was planned for the city, was included in the Blodget tract, and the tracts of Samuel Davidson and Gen. Lingan also contributed. In the platting a public reservation or square larger than Lafayette Square was contemplated, centering on the site of the Scott station, 16th and N streets, and Massachusetts and Rhode Island avenues. By the lines of 17th, 18th, M and N streets and the avenues a number of squares were made, some of irregular shape, but since new streets have appeared increasing the number old natives have witnessed the conversion of the run into a sewer, the streets from dirt roads to broad, smooth carriageways and the primitive frame home sites replaced by palatial buildings.

Section Long Neglected
The square 140, between 18th, 19th, L and M streets, was divided into thirty-four lots, between Gen. Lingan and the United States, in 1797, and though Slash run traversed the southern portion in the first half of the last century was the scene of some minor improvements in small frame buildings. It, however, was long neglected by the corporation. The lots were listed first at half a cent a foot and reduced to a quarter, but by 1830 from one to two cents were placed on it. In 1815 Peter Hagner, long third auditor of the Treasury, owned two lots; two years later J. Hough eight lots, including the northwest quarter of the square, and George Walker eight lots on 18th and L streets. Henry Walker long had his slaughter house here, the run carrying off the offal, and in 1816 John Libbey was on an L street lot. In 1819 Col. William B. Randolph had lot 13, and George Beall the northwest quarter of the square; in 1820 N. Davidson owned a lot on M street; Henry Simms two on 19th street, which afterward went to Henry and Sabret Scott. William Cole owned three lots on M street, and M. Jeffers owned two lots on the northwest corner of 18th and L streets. In 1822 George P. Maxwell and L. Underhill owned on 19th street, and J.C. Moore was on L street. M. Hapner owned two lots at 19th and M streets in 1825, J. Walker two on 18th street and I. Lamar a lot on L street. Dr. Gunton owned lot 2 on L street in 1827, and in 1832 W.W. Corcoran had lot 16 on 19th street; four years after W.Q. Cole and A.A. Clements owned lots on M street, and D. Knep two lots at the corner of 18th and L streets.

In 1830 the following were listed for assessment: William Linkins, $150; John Sibley, $400; Josiah Lamar, $100; T.C. Moore, $300; James Walker, $200; G. Beale, $900; Sarah Bateman, $50; --- Sutton, $100, and Ann James, $50.

Some Early Owners
In square 161, between L, M, 8th street and Connecticut avenue, east of the above, and through which ran a stream, ten lots were made, which in 1796 were apportioned; one to S. Blodget, three to Samuel Davidson, and six to the government. In 1801 Stoddart et al. And Joseph Burrows each had a lot. In 1812 Evan Evans had the Stoddart lot, N. Cutter one adjoining, and William Waters that at L street and Connecticut avenue on which he afterward had an eight-hundred dollar building. The next year Walter Hellen and D. Geiger owned a lot; James Moore two years later owned one, and in 1816 E. Parry and Gideon Granger, the latter Postmaster General, each had a lot, as did R.S. Beckley in 1807. In 1814 James M. Varnum was a lot owner. Seven years later George Campbell, and in 1828 B.B. Beall owned lots. The latter sold his lot in parts to Maria Riley, James Auld and Serrin and Ashton in the three years following. A building was listed for $100 in Mr. Beall's name, and the ground was charged at one cent value. In 1834 John Walker owned a lot; in 1840 Thomas Frazer and Johnson Hellen also, and in 1843 Thomas Corcoran.

The twenty-one lots in the square east number 102, between L, M and 17th streets and Connecticut avenue, were apportioned in 1797 to the United States and remained until 1851, when they were conveyed by the commissioner of public buildings to Nathaniel Carusi. In all this time the ground through which the stream wound its way was unprofitable, for the United States paid no taxes, though the assessors rated it at half a cent per foot.

The thirty-two lots in square 183, between L, M, 16th and 17th streets, in 1797 was divided, one lot going to Mr. Blodget, sixteen to the United States and thirteen to Samuel Davidson, two of the latter for improvements. This was vested in 1801 in Mr. Stoddart, but William O'Neale owned at the southwest corner of 17th and M streets, in 1819, two years after William Simmons succeeding, and Joshua Pearce bought here in 1840. In that decade W.W. Corcoran had nine lots in the north part of the square, and John P. Heiss eight in the southwest quarter of the square. In square 182 north of the above the seventeen lots in 1795 were vested in the proprietor, Mr. Blodget. In 1800 T. Kebbard had title, to which R.S. Beckley succeeded in 1807.

Owned by the Government
The two small triangles west of Scott statue, north 182 and south 181, between Massachusetts and Rhode Island avenues and 17th street, one lot each in 1799 was vested in the government. There the title remained until 1841, when the northern one was bought by Mrs. Catharine Lancaster and the other by Thomas B. Spriggs. The square north 181 of thirty lots, between N and P streets, by the projection of O street, now virtually two squares, was platted for thirty lots. These in 1795 were vested in the United States and after nearly fifty years were bought by C.A. Wickliffe of Kentucky, Postmaster General under President Tyler. The square north, consisting of twenty lots, in 1798 was assigned to Blodget, in 1800 passing to Stoddart and in 1807 to Beckley. In 1844 the square was acquired by Thomas Riggles.

Between the lines of Rhode Island avenue and 17th street square 160 of four lots went to the government in 1796, in seven years passing to Nicholas King, long the surveyor. In 1821 Margaretta King and J. Thorn were owners.

First Summer Garden
In 1839 A. Favier, a noted confectioner and chef, bought part of the square, and here established possibly the earliest summer garden in Washington. Mr. Favier, who conducted a popular establishment on 19th street, made the place, an attractive one, and for a number of years enjoyed much patronage, it being a resort for small pleasure parties, and there were many noted gatherings given here at which officials in and out of Congress were guests.

Square 159, between Rhode Island and Connecticut avenues, 17th and N streets, of sixteen lots, was in 1795 apportioned, the government taking title to nine and Mr. Blodgett to seven. The same year Sabret Scott owned lots at the corner of Connecticut avenue and 18th street, which in 1806 went to J.H. Stone. R.S. Beckley had the Blodget lots in 1807, and in 1843 Thomas Corcoran bought them. The square bounded by Massachusetts avenue, 17th, 18th and N streets, 158, of 22 lots, went to the United States. In 1802 William Dougherty obtained four and William Simmons a like number. In 1806 Raborg & Taylor had bought from Charles Love four on N street and they had a building midway of the square, which in the thirties was taxed for $250 value. In 1809 Mr. O'Neale owned at the corner of N and 18th streets. In 1834 Grafton Powell bought a lot which he sold to W.W. Corcoran, and in 1840 B.F. Moxley owned a lot. In 1830 Ann Shorter was listed for $50. The square north 157, of twenty lots, fronting Massachusetts avenue, 17th and P streets, in 1798 was assigned Mr. Blodgett, and in 1801 Mr. Stoddert held title for the Washington Association. Six years after it was in the name of R.S. Beckley. Thomas Corcoran bought it in 1843.

The triangle formed by P and 18th streets and Massachusetts avenue of one lot, N. 187, was assigned Mr. Blodget in 1799 and long laid in the open. In 1847 it was purchased by Maj. Heiss, editor of the Union. The square south, between Connecticut and Massachusetts avenues and 18th street, 137, of four lots, was assigned to the United States and in 1847 went to Mr. Heiss.

Quarter Cent a Foot
The square west on Connecticut avenue, 138, of six lots, north of N street was assigned in 1799, three each to Gen. Lingan and the United States. In 1817 Joseph Mechlin bought it and John Gadsby had title in 1840. It was offered for sale at public auction in 1843 and according to an old resident a fourth of a cent was the highest bid and it was withdrawn. For years that was the assessed value and in 1830 a $150 building was listed to Mr. Mechlin. Square 139, between M, N, 18th and 19th streets and Connecticut avenue, was of twenty-five lots, of which four were assigned to Gen. Lingan for improvements, along with fourteen others. Afterward there was a redivision and he was vested with all. In 1816 John Laird had eight lots and in 1819 from Col. Randolph he bought the remaining lots, acquiring the whole square. It was in 1838 bought by Elizabeth Dick. Five years later through John Gadsby it went to William Fisher.