CHRS Historic Sites Walking Tour

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In 1892, said to be the largest store in the world owned by a woman. photo: Elizabeth Nelson

Your neighbors at the Capitol Hill Restoration Society hope you enjoyed the Whimsy of Capitol Hill Scavenger Hunt, still posted at chrs.org/scavenger-hunt-2020/.  If you’re looking for another free, fun, family-friendly, “socially distant” activity, try out the new, self-guided Historic Sites Walking Tour, which debuted June 27 at chrs.org/historic-sites-tour.

The tour includes 44 diverse and historically significant sites from across the Hill, a small sampling of our cultural treasures. Some are noteworthy due to their architecture, or for their connection to individuals and events that have shaped our community and our country. Others illuminate the manufacturing sector, once a key component of Hill life and now largely a thing of the past.

Here is a list of addresses with brief descriptions. Photographs and more information about each site, plus a downloadable handout, will be posted to the website. Links to other walking tours are available, also.

  1. 801 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Haines Department Store” – Built in 1892 by Elizabeth Haines, advertised as the “largest store in the world built, owned, and operated by a woman.”
  2. 715 8th St. SE – Residence of Rev. William Ryland, Senate and Navy chaplain in the 1820s and friend of Andrew Jackson, who is said to have visited him here frequently.
  3. 8th & G Sts. SE, Marine Commandant’s House –– Completed in 1806, it has been home to all but the first two Commandants of the U.S. Marine Corps.
  4. 636 G St. SE – Birthplace (November 6, 1854) of John Philip Sousa, American composer and leader of Marine Corps Band, famously known as “The March King”.
  5. 620 G St. SE, Christ Church – Episcopal Parish incorporated 1794; initial brick section built 1806-07; later enlarged and bell tower, porch, pebble dash stucco added; landmark, 1964.
  6. 517 6th St. SE – Residence of Gary Hart, a U.S. Senator and a front-runner for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination until scandal ensued.
  7. 423 6th St. SE – Built in 1802/1803 with tower and porch added in 1881, the home of Benjamin Latrobe while he worked on Navy Yard and U.S. Capitol projects.
  8. 421- 1/2 6th St. SE – Built in 1802 by Hugh Densley, an early Washington artisan and master plasterer who worked on White House and Capitol.
  9. 619 D St. SE/630 North Carolina Ave. SE, “The Maples” – Built in 1795 by William Mayne Duncanson; later owned by Emily Edson Briggs, newspaper woman who wrote popular Olivia columns during Civil War.
  10. 645 South Carolina Ave. SE – Home of Rep. Richard H. Cain, fourth African-American Representative from South Carolina (1873 – 1875, 1877- 1879).
  11. 601 North Carolina Ave. SE – Sculpture of Olive Risley Seward, adopted daughter of William Henry Seward, U.S. Secretary of State (1861-1869).
  12. 115 6th St. SE – Home of Annie Etheridge Hooks, Civil War nurse and hero; awarded Kearny Cross, emblem of courage under fire, after Battle of Chancellorsville.
  13. 408 D St. SE – Home of Michael Weller, noted 19th century businessman and civic activist.
  14. 400 D St. SE, “Little Ebenezer Church/School” – In 1864, the first public school for African American children was founded in the church, which dates to 1827. Current structure completed in 1897
  15. 120 4th St. SE – Built in 1874; home of Filippo Costaggini in 1880s when he worked on U.S. Capitol frescoes started by Constantino Brumidi.
  16. 115 4th St. SE– Home of aviator Charles Lindbergh for 10 years while his father served in U.S. House of Representatives.
  17. 224 2nd St. SE– Built 1802 – 1819, the home of George Watterston, the 3rd Librarian of Congress.
  18. Terrace Court (near 217 A St. NE) – Alley dwellings built in 1889 as rental properties. Once slated for destruction, they are now private homes.
  19. 144 Constitution Ave. NE, Belmont–Paul Women’s Equality National Monument – Built in 1800, set afire in 1814 by British troops. Currently, the National Woman’s Party headquarters.
  20. 316 – 318 A St. NE – Home of Frederick Douglass in the 1870s, also first home of African Art Museum established by Capitol Hill resident Warren Robbins.
  21. 227 6th St. NE – Barack Obama, 44thS. President, lived here prior to the 2008 election.
  22. 506 East Capitol St. NE –Daniel Chester French, sculptor of statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial, is said to have had his studio in the 4th floor loft.
  23. 629 Constitution Ave. NE – The Lincoln Exchange, built in 1906 to house the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company switchboards. Now residences.
  24. 645 Maryland Ave. NE, “The New Union Garage” – Built in 1906, it served as a garage for over 100 years. Now condominiums.
  25. 819 D St. NE – Built in 1897-1898, for the Ninth Street Christian Church, it later served as the Way of the Cross Church. Now condominiums.
  26. 800 East Capitol St. NE – Built in 1876, by James Whelpley, Asst. U.S. Treasurer under Cleveland and active in civic affairs.
  27. 9 8th St. NE – Built in 1905 by Whelpley for his son. The home is now occupied by their descendants.
  28. 25 9th St. NE – Built in 1874,William Cody (Buffalo Bill), often stayed here when he came to lobby Congress on behalf of Native Americans.
  29. 1341 Maryland Ave. NE, Engine House No. 10 – Built in 1894, one of several firehouses designed by architect Leon E. Dessez, best known for the Admiralty House at the Naval Observatory.
  30. 1353 H St. NE – Built in 1921, it has housed many businesses including a furniture store and a funeral home.
  31. 1365 H St. NE – Built in 1927 as automobile showroom; also home of Plymouth Theater (1946) and H Street Playhouse (2000).
  32. 1337-1353 C St. NE – Tiny houses built in 1886 by Charles Gessford for the rental market.
  33. 1300 block of A St. NE – On November 17, 1927 an F2 tornado with winds at 125 mph damaged the circa 1917 rowhouses.
  34. 101 14th St. SE Built as a dwelling in 1910, it became a grocery store before returning to residential use. 
  35. 1403 Independence Ave. SE – Built in 1919, it has been occupied by a Piggly Wiggly, the Crusty Pie Co., radio and appliance stores, and a printing company (1980s).
  36. 29 King’s Court SE – Built in 1928 or earlier, it has housed a paper box factory and artists’ studios.
  37. 1331 D St. SE – Built in 1899, and said to be associated with National Capital Brewing Co.
  38. Park bounded by C St., South Carolina Ave. & 13th St. SE – Plaque marks the site of St. Cyprian’s Church built in 1894; razed in the 1960s.
  39. 302 12th St. SE – Office for coal and fuel yard which occupied lots to the right, now site of new homes. Such yards were once common on The Hill.
  40. 124-154 11th St. SE, “Philadelphia Row”– Once slated for demolition to accommodate a proposed freeway, these residences were saved by the efforts of civic activists and preservationists.
  41. 219 11th St. SE – Once the operational center and main residence for a small lesbian feminist collective in the early 1970s called The Furies. Now a private residence.
  42. 111 10th St. SE, Waters Organ Company – Built as a horse stable in 1878, this carriage house was converted to an organ factory in 1910 by Samuel Waters, who lived with his wife and son next door at 109 10th St. SE.

Not included on map:

  1. 770 M St. SE, Navy Yard Car Barn aka “Blue Castle” – Built in 1891 by the Washington & Georgetown Railroad Co. for the cable car line between Georgetown and Capitol Hill.
  2. 1140 3rd St NE, Uline Arena – Built in 1940, famously the site of The Beatles’ U.S. debut concert. Currently home to the DC REI flagship store.