Early Attempts Fail to Establish Industries
Sugar Refinery Failed
Wharf Property and Breweries Have Hard Struggle
Buildings Rotted Away
Section of Southeast Washington Now Covered by
Pumping Station Near Old Canal

By James Croggon, The Evening Star, March 25, 1910 [pt. 2, p. 4]

In colonial days a little stream from a spring near the corner of F and 1st streets southeast meandered to the present site of the District pumping station, entering an inlet of the Anacostia or Eastern branch, which became the basis of the Washington city canal. Not far to the west of the inlet was the northeast corner of the town of Carrollsburg, laid out in 1771 in the hands of Charles Carroll, lot 48 forming the corner.<\p>

About the mouth of this creek Thomas Law, James Barry and others in the infancy of the city essayed to build up trade and make improvements, Capt. Barry taking up his residence east of the inlet. While around him there was some building, and a trade grew up on the wharf on that part west of the inlet, a heroic effort to expand was made but failed.<\p>

Wharf and Refinery Fail
The wharf there from 1799 went into disuse. The sugar refining enterprise was turned into a brewery. This, too, failed of support.<\p>

West of the inlet were located squares 744 and S744 in the lines of N, 1st and Canal streets, north of the Anacostia, a sixty-foot street separating them, and on the first was located the sugar house and on the latter the wharf, in after years known as Forrest's or Wharton's which, about 1840 fell into disuse and finally rotted away.<\p>

In square 744 but two lots were planned of 63,400 feet each. In the division with the proprietor, Daniel Carroll, in 1797 the government retained title to both.<\p>

Priorly, however, Morris and Nicholson, and, in 1795, Thomas Law and W. Mayne Duncanson were the owners. Mr. Law was interested in the sugar industry and James Piercy from Plymouth Dock, England, started a sugar refinery on the south half of the square, Mr. Law taking a mortgage for the purchase money, over 1,860 pounds, the rate being about 7-1/2 cents per foot.<\p>

Piercy covenanted to effect a sugar house at least forty feet square in one year from April 25, 1797. With the aid of Law and James Ray, who gave cash, and Carroll, with half a million brick, the refinery was erected and operations commenced. It was an eight-story structure, with a wing on the southeast corner of the square.<\p>

Mr. Piercy entered into business in 1798 and the following year, mainly for wharfage purposes, contracted to purchase in the square south lots 1 to 4, fronting 127-1/2 feet on 1st street, at $10 per front foot, for water lots, and for 6, 7 and 8, on the alley, 5 cents per foot, or $956.70. It was on the former lots the wharf was built.<\p>

Percy Does Not Make It Go
Piercy was assisted by Henry Tietjis, who had been a sugar refiner in Germany and England and had settled nearby in 1795. Though backed by Law and others, he was soon in financial straits.<\p>

In May, 1800 Piercy deeded his property here to secure payment of $14,985.70 to James Ray and in 1802 the lots near the wharf were sold to Thomas Cooke of Georgetown for $1,415 and deeded to Walter Hellen. The sugar house was listed at $10,000 and the ground at 3 cents per foot to Thomas Law and the square south at 3 cents to Walter Hellen.<\p>

Piercy, Law & Ray had difficulties over the refinery, and business was made for the courts for a few years. This, however, did not prevent the leasing of the sugar house property, including five frame houses on N street, to Cornelius Cunningham for fifteen years, from October 1, 1808, for a nominal sum, with the condition that he should complete the houses. Business was then that of a brewery.<\p>

Cunningham Sells Out
Mr. Cunningham did not make a success. He sold his effects with the lease in 1811, and the same year lot 2 went by tax title to Catherine Connell.<\p>

In 1811 lots 1 to 4, 6 and 7, in square S744, were sold to Joseph Forrest and E. Law, for $3,000, and the sugar house wharf became known as Forrest's.<\p>

The sugar house wharf became known as Wharton's in February 1816, Col. Franklin Wharton of the Marine Corps purchasing the lots including it for $8,100 from E. Law and Joseph Forrest.<\p>

About 1830 the banks of the United States and Washington were owners. In July, 1817, David Ott and Thomas Coote bought 12,000 feet at the northeast corner of 744 for $1,100. Here was established a brewery. In 1819 this firm was dissolved and became Thomas and C.T. Coote.<\p>

In 1826 Barton Milstead bought part of lot 5, square 755, for about 12 cents per foot. In 1828 W.A. Maddox bought as adjoining piece of land.<\p>

In 1830 the sugar house stood in Law's name. The appraisement was reduced from $3,500 to $1,000. To Coote were improvements listed at $7,000, reduced to $4,000, while 5 and 6 cents was the ground assessed, and the water lots at $3 per front foot.<\p>

Though for some years the spirit of decay was evidenced by the ruinous condition of the sugar house and a few old frames about 1840 a house and lot on 1st street bought by E. Simms for $1,200 indicated the optimism. With the disappearance of the old structures and the decline of commerce came the brick business.<\p>

About 1860 square 744 was occupied by the kilns and yard of Kelly H. Lambell. Two sides of 744 N and Canal streets are solidly built up and the ground is listed at from 8 to 25 cents. T.W. Smith's lumber yard is on the square S744 and the District having cut through O street on reclaimed land, the water front south is now used by the Smiths under a lease.<\p>