GROWTH WAS SLOW
By James Croggon, The Evening Star, March 13, 1910 [p. 17]
Eighty-seven building lots were laid out on the original plan of Washington eastward of the section described in The Star of the 5th instant, which were tardily developed, and, indeed, as late as forty years ago a number were not utilized other than in the brickmaking business, furnishing the clay. These were in squares 700, 701 and 743, lying between South Capitol, M and N streets and New Jersey avenue southeast, and being near the border of Carrollsburg, and in the vicinity of the improvements of Thomas Law and others southward, speedy upbuilding was expected.
The original proprietor, Daniel Carroll of Duddington, was, in the division made by the Commissioners September 14, 1796, vested with title to all, and had parted with but few of them prior to 1829, when he conveyed his interests to Moses Tabbs, R.C. Weightman and Richard Wallach, in trust, to sell. But there followed no real estate boom. Building material in the shape of the clay was more sought for than were choice sites for the location of homes, and for three-fourths of a century it was the region of brickyards and kilns, the only municipal improvements being seen on New Jersey avenue, which was graded in the early part of the century from the Capitol to the sugarhouse, the wharves, etc., south. A roadway was on M street connecting Greenleaf's point with the Navy Yard section and on South Capitol street, cut through about 1853. There were thirty-two lots fronting South capitol, Half, M and N strets, in square 700, and it appears that the first improvement was made on the north side of N street, near South Capitol street. James Knight leased in 1800 of Mr. Carroll half of lot 5 for ninety-nine years, and two years later the lease was assigned to R. Frazier, the rental being $1.50 per front foot and the purchase price being $450.
Listed at Three Cents a Foot
A small one on lot 12, South Capitol street, was taxed at $200 in the name of J. Heath. Mr. Smallwood was then and afterward a carpenter and builder, a member of the city councils and also mayor of Washington in 1819-21. He lived there until about 1811, when he removed to Virginia avenue between 3d and 4th streets southeast and engaged in the lumber business, having a wharf and yard near the mouth of the canal.
Capt. George Travers bought and lived in the Smallwood house from 1811 for many years. In 1813 Mary Nevitt owned part of the lot. In 1830 the value of the ground had changed but little, 2-1/2 cents being the maximum and the assessed value of Capt. Travers' house being reduced to $200. In 1834 George Adams bought lots 2 and 4 on N street and Joseph Radcliffe owned lot 5. In 1840 Zaddock Williams bought the Addams lots 2 and 41.
In the square east, 701 composed of thirty-two lots on Half, 1st, M and N streets, Samuel Cook owned parts of lots 31 and 32 in 1800, on 1st street. The same property in 1809 went to John Cook. The corporation first assessed the ground at 3 cents a foot, then at 1 cent. In 1822 J.A. Cook, a lieutenant in the navy, owned lots 31 and 32 and resided there, the house being listed for taxation at $900. Barton Milstead, who for many years engaged in brickmaking, with kilns in the neighborhood, bought lot 1, corner N and 1st streets, in 1823, where he erected his home, which was listed at $1,500 value and the ground at 1-1/2 cents per foot. Mr. Milstead was prominent in municipal affairs and a member of the councils for several terms.
Buys Other Lots
Seven lots fronting N street were included in the twenty-three lots of square 743, on New Jersey avenue, M and 1st streets, Marrie and Nicholson's contracts to improve included about half the square in 1794, and two years afterward Thomas Law had invested. There were no transactions affecting these lots, save the listing of the ground for taxes at about 3 cents per foot, until 1816, when Mr. Law leased for ninety-nine years part of lot 1, fronting sixty feet on New Jersey avenue and 148 feet on N street, to S. Stephens for $40.25 per year. This was assigned in 1819 to William R. Maddox, and in 1827 Maddox bought the ground in fee for $600.80, about 7 cents a foot. Mr. Maddox lived here a number of years, being engaged in brickmaking in that vicinity and in other parts of the city, and furnished much of the brick used in building the city hall – or courthouse – and, like his neighbor, was several times a councilman. In 1828 Bearnard Doyle owned part of lot 1 on N street, and the next year over half the lots went to Tabbs and others, as trustees, to sell, being included in the deed from Mr. Carroll. There were improvements listed in 1830 to W.B. Maddox, $1,200, and $300 in lot 1, New Jersey avenue and N street; Michael Doyle, $700 on N street, and $50 to Mr. Law.
City Official Invests
Following the civil war these squares had within their bounds a greater number of settlers, the removal of the clay bringing the surface down to grade. The large lots were subdivided.
In square 700 there was slower growth, but others were well built up. In square 701 is an Episcopal chapel and a mission for the worship of the residents, some of whom are on Quander street and in the alleys.
The ground in the latter is assessed at 4 and 5 cents a foot, and on the streets from 10 to 25 cents, and while most of the houses are listed at a few hundred dollars in value, a few require four figures to express their value.