Early Capitol Life
Half Century’s Changes in City’s Topography
Land Near Union Station
First Settlement on the Tiber Crude Homes
Small Game Disported in ‘50
Paid Very Little in Taxes Toward Support of Government –
First Chapel Is Built

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, August 28, 1909 [pt. 2, p. 3]

The section of the city north of the Union station, lying with G, K, 11st and 4th streets, cut into eleven building squares in its early-day condition, had a history common to the individual squares – and in it but few names occur, and they in connection with extensive plots of ground. Included in the Carroll tract, east of Tiber creek, and west of a small stream flowing from a spring at 4th and K streets, there was some low ground, but, nevertheless, there was much clay.

As late as 1850 small game afforded sport for the gunner, and not infrequently did rambling boys scare up rabbit, partridge and other wild fowl.

Up to that time there was no semblance of a street, other than a wagon road in H street, and zigzag tracks made by the carts which carried off the product of the brick kilns. The eastern boundary was a small stream in a ravine along 4th street, which started from a spring in K street. Other than the railroad track along I street, the brick kilns and sheds, there was no evidence that rural conditions would be displaced. As early as 1850 effort was made to dispose of lots for building purposes, much of the ground being held in trust to sell, but not until the little settlement on the Tiber, known as “Swampoodle” appeared, was there a sign of building.

Much Held by Uncle Sam
For over fifty years much of it paid no taxes, for it was held in the name of the government, and that otherwise held was listed for less than a cent per foot; from an eighth of a cent upward, some reaching half a cent in 1830, and none of it at a cent until 1840.

Before the division between the government and proprietors in 1796 some of the ground had passed to Greenleaf under his agreement to build on every third lot and passed to Morris & Nicholson, Pratt et al., but no building followed.

In square 719, between G and H, Delaware avenue and 2d street, Mr. Carroll took title to those of sixteen lots in the east half. In 1835 John N. Wilson owned six of the Carroll lots and Henry M. Moffatt purchased the west half of the square of the government, selling lots 11 to 14 to Thomas Owens for $425, being the northwest fourth of the square.

Acquired by Georgetown College
The four lots between Delaware avenue, 1st, H and I streets, square No. 717, fell to the United States and were included in the lots conveyed by the government to Georgetown College, under the act of 1833. The other, east of Delaware avenue, was vested and held by Mr. Carroll until 1820, when he conveyed it with other property to Moses Tabbs, R.C. Weightman and Richard Wallach in trust to sell, and six years later it passed to John A. Wilson. The squares located north had a like history. Those bounded by Delaware avenue, 1st, I and K streets, 715, passing from the government to Georgetown College in 1837, and 716, east of Delaware avenue, fronting 2d, I and K streets, passing from Carroll, through Tabbs et al., to Mr. Wilson in 1835.

The square of fourteen lots fronting G, H, 2d and 3d streets, 752, has similar history to that west, 719, Mr. Carroll’s lots passing to Mr. Wilson in 1835. Henry M. Moffatt, in 1845, acquired the others. Of square 751 fronting H, I, 2d and 3d streets, the west half of which was apportioned to Mr. Carroll, the east half was held by the government until 1837 and was conveyed to Georgetown College. The Carroll portion was conveyed, through Tabbs et al., to Mr. Wilson in 1835. The whole of square 750 north, of twelve lots, was vested in Mr. Carroll, and Mr. Wilson bought it in 1835 at public sale.

Greenleaf Properties
Fourteen lots fronting G, H, 3d and 4th streets, in square 777, were, like those west, included in the Greenleaf transactions, but in 1996 were apportioned, the government taking those in the east half of the square. Carroll, Young’s heirs and William Prout, in 1802, were vested with the others, and until the thirties title was held by the Youngs. The square north, 776, of 16 lots on H, I, 3d and 4th streets, was apportioned in 1802, the east portion, six lots, to Nicholas Young and the west to the government. In 1830 I. Fenwick owned the east portion, and in 1837 the United States lots were conveyed to Georgetown College.

Greenleaf’s contract included the square north, twelve lots on 3d, 4th, I and K streets, but in the division title was given Mr. Young, and under his will title went to his daughter, Mrs. Robert Brent. In 1821 these lots were conveyed to Joseph Pearson.

In 1851 John Scoffer bought a lot for $50 on 4th street south of H street, and in that decade Samuel Cassidy established a stone yard at Delaware avenue and 1st street. Duke Daley, Michael Sullivan, Joseph Follansbee and others had also become residents.

Chapel Is Built
Some now anticipated speedy growth of that vicinity and a chapel was erected at the southeast corner of 2d and I streets. The latter was known as Providence M.E. Chapel, where a small congregation worshiped, until the larger congregation on North Capitol was organized.

Probably there has been no greater changes wrought than here, for both grades and lines of streets have been changed, and, by reason of the location of the Union station and the trackage, such an amount of earth has been used that not a vestige of the old sod remains.