Archive for July, 2014
Frederick Douglass Papers, Library of Congress [Subscriptions, Folder 1 of 2 – Series: Financial Papers, Image 29]
Around every corner in Old Anacostia another abandominium seemingly appears. At 2245 14th Street SE, across the street from the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, a vacant property with a fluorescent orange notice from DCRA’s Inspections and Compliance Administration taped to the front door sits largely unnoticed.
Built in March 1902 for 4,000 dollars the two story home has a flat roof and a concrete slab covered by an awning for a front porch. Over the last five years, while reporting on the neighborhood, I’ve exchanged greetings with young and middle-aged men who frequently barbecue and have let members of my tour group pet their dogs. In the last year there has been no presence at the home.
Here’s a look inside the home accompanied by a brief history compiled through public tax and property records, newspaper accounts, and word on the street.
The original owner and architect of the home was Charles Lewis. On March 10, 1902 the Evening Star reported, “Building operations are on the increase in Anacostia, the following buildings being under way; A two-story frame dwelling on Pierce Street, for Charles Lewis…” (Although members of the Anacostia Historic Block Association may not know, Pierce Street is the old name for what is today 14th Street SE.)
Lewis appears in the Washington City Directories in the early 1900s. In 1909, he is listed as, “Lewis, Chas, navy yd, 343 Pierce, Anacostia.”
Next, presumably, to live in the house was a lively family; the Satterfields. Under a headline of “GIRL EVADES PARENTS AND BECOMES BRIDE,” the Star put the family’s business in the streets in April 1915.
“When Beatrice Satterfield failed to return to her home Saturday evening the suspicions of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Satterfield, 2245 14th Street southeast, were aroused, for Beatrice had recently been seen in the company of Phillip Catalano. Later a telephone message was received stating that the couple had been married at Holy Rosary Church by Rev. N. N. De Carto, the pastor. It was further stated that the bride and bridegroom were on their way to Baltimore.
Mr. and Mrs. Satterfield hurriedly set out for Baltimore, and arrived in that city shortly after the happy pair. It has been learned that they planned to visit a brother of the bridegroom. Joseph Catalano, who resides at 427 North Montford street, Baltimore, and thither went the parents of the bride, accompanied by two policeman from the Baltimore force.
Mr. Catalano refused to allow the police to enter his home unless a warrant for his brother’s arrest was produced, and in the meantime a large crowd was attracted by the presence of the two officers. Finally a temporary truce was effected by a telephone conversation between Mrs. Satterfield and her daughter.
No one was at home at the Anacostia address of Mr. and Mrs. Satterfield this morning, so it was impossible to ascertain the truth of conflicting reports as to what the future attitude of the parents of the young bride toward their daughter and newly acquired son-in-law will be.”
On August 27, 1916 the Star reported that an automobile license, number 40903, was issued to Willam E. Satterfield of 2245 14th Street in Southeast. He drove a Chalmers.
True to form and his inexperience behind the wheel, he quickly had an accident. In the he late fall of 1916, the Star reported, “While crossing Nichols Avenue at Good Hope road last night, about 7 o’clock, Michael Stearn, seventy years old, was knocked down by an automobile, owned and operated by W. E. Satterfield, 2245 14th street southeast. He was slightly injured but refused an offer of hospital treatment.”
Less than a year after receiving his license, in mid-August of 1917, the “5 passenger” and in “good running” condition was advertised for sale for $125. The ad only appeared once.
In January it was reported in the Star that, “Harold W. Satterfield, sixteen years old, 2245 14th street Anacostia, was bitten in the yesterday afternoon by a dog owned by a neighbor.”
No more information on the Satterfields in Anacostia could be found. (In the 1940 Census the Satterfields, headed by Harold, then 38, living with his parents and a nephew, lived in D Street SE.)
Seven of the nine were arrested after an undercover office allegedly made 60 buys, mostly of heroin, from them during the investigation, according to narcotics detective Alan Penburg. More arrests are expected, he said.
The investigation, spearheaded by Sgt. Raymon Gonzales, concentrated on drug activity around Talbert Street and Martin Luther King Avenue in Southeast and 15th Street and Independence Avenue east of the Capitol, he said.
The undercover officer purchased bags of heroin for $25 and $50, Penburg said.
Arrested and charged with distribution of heroin were Ralph Magruder, 32, of 1204 Talbert St. SE; William Alston, 32, of 1523 17th St. SE; Eugene Davis, 20, of 1227 Talbert St. SE; Andre Taylor, 19, of 1634 Independence Ave. SE; Keith Robinson, 23, of 2104 Savannah Terrace SE: John H. Mathis, 23, of 1147 Oates St. NE, and John E. Burroughs, 42, of 5405 21st Ave., Hyattsville.
Stephen S. Young, 36, of 183 Elmira St. SW, was charged with possession of marijuana and heroin and Robert E. Williams, 60, of 602 Tennessee Ave. NW was charged with distribution of Preludin.
“Nine Arrested on Drug Charges After 2 1/2 Month District Probe,” Washington Post, June 2, 1980, B5.
[Editor’s note: William Alston-El is a community activist and property manager in Anacostia and the surrounding environs today.]
Although changes are slowly creeping through Anacostia there remain many vacant lots within the residential area and numerous parking surfaces lining the commercial strip. Here is a map from 1980 that diagrams the varied land uses in Anacostia. Notice any significant differences?
Yellow: detached and semi-detached dwellings
Brown: row dwellings
Salmon: flats/garden apartments
Burgundy: mid and high rise apartments
Orange: retail, office and hotel
Green: parks, open space and cemeteries
Light blue: local public facilities
Dark blue: private institutions
Blue: federal facilities
White: vacant or parking
“An Anacostan Indian fell into a Sesquehanna ambush, and pierced from side to side with the keen spear, lay weltering in his blood. His friends recalled by his cry bore him to Piscataway and laid him on a mat before his door. Here Father White found him chanting in his dying voice the never-forgotten death song, while his friends join in, the Christians invoking the aid of heaven in his behalf. He too was a Christian, and Father White, seeing his perilous state, renewed his faith and heard his confession. Then reading a gospel and the Litany of Loretto over him, he urged him to commend himself to Jesus and Mary. After applying to his wounds a relic of the Holy Cross he directed the attendants to bring his corpse to the chapel for burial, and then launched his canoe to visit a dying catechumen. As he was returning the next day, to his amazement he beheld the same Indian approaching him in a canoe, paddling with as vigorous a stroke as his his comrade. Still greater was Father White’s surprise when the Indian, stepping into his boat, threw off his blanket and showed a red line, the only trace of his deadly wound. Glorifying God for so signal a favor, the good missionary admonished the happy man never to be ungrateful to god…”
Shea, John Gilmary. History of the Catholic Missions Among the Indian Tribes of the United States, 1529-1854, Edward Dunigan & Bro., 1854, p. 493.