Posts Tagged Old Anacostia

The legend of Fab Fisher lives on … [Washington Informer, 6 June, 1984]

Astro MotorsThis past Saturday I was hanging out at the Astro Motors Club with Frank, Floyd aka “Hawk” and proprietor Dale “Bubba” Richardson. Not present was Melvin, Bo, Harry and other charter members. A fellow named Alfred, former owner of Anacostia Liquors from 1978 – 1993, also stopped by. Alfred didn’t know that Al “Butch” Hopkins had passed. In speaking with distinguished members of the Astro Motors Club I was told that the articles I write are keeping the spirit of Fab Fisher alive. I asked, “Who was Fab Fisher?” Dale, Alfred, and Frank all spoke highly of Fisher and his reporting on Anacostia for the Washington Informer. Here’s an article I discovered, posted in full:

Washington Informer

June 6, 1984

FATHER’S DAY in Anacostia on Sunday, June 17, will be a festive day to look forward to. Lots of cards, notes and heart-warming expressions of appreciation will be going to the fellows devoted to playing the role of a real father in the family structure. As usual, the churches will be full on Father’s Day and our ministers will be extolling accolades of blessings for the fathers, young and old, who have and still are abiding by the time-worn adage, “The family that prays together stays together with God’s gift to overcome all family problems in time.” Consequently, Fab Fisher of the Washington Informer Newspaper advises all fathers to spend time with your loved ones on your special day. There are many children with busy fathers, but they would be overjoyed spending a whole day with dad. Wives, preoccupied with housekeeping and child rearing, would be thrilled to hear her hubby say, “Today is Father’s Day. Let’s all go to church as a family.”

ANACOSTIA ANNUAL PARADE is out again this year. Instead, the Friends of the Anacostia Public Library are staging an “A Walk-A-Thon Through Anacostia” on Saturday, June 2, starting at 10 AM at Campbell AME Church. The procession goes through old Anacostia and ends in Anacostia Park. (The rain date is Saturday, June 9).

FLAG DAY, Thursday, June 14, will be observed in the school system. Parents will have an excellent chance to see their children participating in the patriotic outdoor activities on the playgrounds if the weather is permissable.

JIM BERRY’S TV CHANNEL 7 Presentation of “Anacostia — A Capital Shame” was presented during the latter part of the 6 o’clock news cast as a four-part series on Monday, May 14 thru Thursday, May 17. The series ended on Thursday night. Many community involved Anacostians contacted Fab Fisher urging him to watch the series and give an opinion. Unfortunately, Fab Fisher of the Washington Informer had so much other interesting news in last week’s writing until it was necessary to promise a full opinion and revue of Jim Berry’s Anacostia series in this week’s Informer.

PERSONAL COMMENT ON JIM BERRY’s TV SHOW:

JOHN MABEN, former SE Neighborhood House director, was the first spokesperson appearing on the TV screen, which meant the filming was done a month ago because the SENH has an acting director as of May 5. There was also the outspoken Cardell Shelton, along with Anacostia‘s Mr. Tee, Steve Smith, and Frances Johnson. Laura Goldsmith of Barry Farms Tenants spoke of the broken promises in her community. George Curtis was interviewed regarding the lag in housing as he poised beside the big chair in Anacostia. Albert Hopkins of Anacostia Economic Development Corp. talking briefly in front of the Anacostia Med-Pro Bldg., mentioned hopes for more jobs and housing. Housing Director Jim Banks, a native Anacostian talked about the overall lag of housing development in Anacostia.

JIM BERRY, in filming the Anacostia Shame, took his camera out of Anacostia into the Garfield area and interviewed ANC Commissioner Leona Redmond, who produced and talked about promised help from the Mayor’s office for the ‘Alabama Avenue Renaissance Projet.’ On the Wednesday and Thursday series, Jim Berry was back on King and Good Hope showing the deteriorated business spots and existing businesses. Jim Berry was not aware that he repeatedly showed the vacant lot at 1903 and 1905 Martin L. King Avenue right behind Al Morris’ AnacostiaLiquor Store. The particular area once housed the old Hechinger Store, which was torn down and demolished starting Tuesday, January 10 and finished Friday, January 13. Fab Fisher of the Washington Informer wants to personally thank Jim Berry for including that site as part of his four nights TV series on the Anacostia Shame. That Hechinger bldg. was the first three-story police station built in Anacostia, and it was one of the many historic structures registered on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. When the current administration took over eight years ago, Anacostians were promised that historic structures would be rehabed. As it was seen on the TV, the political promises for rehabilitation are shameful examples of deterioration and despair.

JIM BERRY’S TV series on Anacostia not only had a political tinge, but it was restricted to a six-block area touching only Union Temple Church and all its projects. The camera focused on the deteriorating businesses while bypassing the active spots. The idle folk were photographed in 3M Park while the crowded employment and compensation office was avoided. The infamous Rose’s Row frame apartments, which were supposed to be renovated, are still decaying fire traps. Jim Berry never showed the abandoned multi-unit apartment buildings that stand as the shameful windfall drippings of crime and drug trafficking. Incidentally, more will be heard through the media about the Bates housing scandal, but in the meantime, the realtors’ speculation of the apartment renters will be in this column next week. Would you believe the rental cost of a one bedroom apartment with no utilities is hitting the $300.00 monthly figure?

INTERESTING BRIEFS — Albert Mudd, senior on Green Street, is still missing after walking out of his home two months ago. Robert Plummer got a degree in mortuary science at UDC. Plummer has directed Rhines Funeral Home since 1950. Living at 1242 V (next to St. Teresa) Helen Stoner received her UDC degree in English. Tracy Shaw (Virgo), a business management major at Hampton Institute, is working with her father popular Sonny Shaw at Showcase Opticians. Lennie Kushner of Big K Liquors is back on the Big K scene after hospitalization. Lennie thanks all those who were concerned about his illness. Butch Perry is no longer at Big K where Bobby, Andy, Noah, David, Benny, Harvey Moore and Ray Brown are working under Anne Kushner’s supervision. James Maben was supposed to have retired May 5 at SE Neighborhood House, with James Baldwin acting as director, but Maben is still on the scene. Gordon White, a SENH administrator, got his master’s degree last month. Ike Kelly, trustee at Delaware Baptist, is walking with the aid of a cane as a result of a leg injury. John Melvin Barnes, known on Lincoln playground as ‘Penny Cotton’, was funeralized last week.

SAXON DRYCLEANING PLANT at ML King Avenue and You Street (in front of C&W Flower Mart) is undergoing some beautiful policy changes. The new general manager, James D. Hardy, proudly announces that Saxon’s Cleaners has been awarded the drycleaning services contract with Andrew AF Base. In anticipation of the increased workload, Jim is recruiting additional help, which means more jobs for qualifying deserving persons. Special attention will be placed on the disadvantaged qualified people. In the meantime, Jim Hardy is making room for more work by staging a special sale on Saturday morning, June 9. Weather permitting, it will be an outdoor sidewalk first-come-first-served sale. Saxon’s Cleaners already has outlets at 8 & K SE, Natl. Institute Bldg., Govt. Acct. Office and Agricultural Bldg. in addition to Andrew AFB. Ora Jackson is plant manager, with Marcene Mackey as quality control manager. “Pee Wee” Williams, an expert presser, has been with the shop since its start.

ANACOSTIA CYCLE SHOP was well represented last week when both Ernest Rowe and Jeffrey Johnson rode their bikes to Hendley Elementary School where, as guests of teacher Beulah Smith and principal Clark G. Stewart, Enrest and Jeff demonstrated safe bicycle riding and lectured on “career in cycling.’

AL ‘ZEKE’ BRISCOE is part of Bishop P.J. Byrne Council 3877 sponsoring a benefit party for Hospital for Sick Children Sunday, June 3 at Byrne Manor. Icky Tillman and Mary Jefferson are appearing with Dohn Jefferson Quartet. Info 638-7300.

PATRICIA ANDREA CARTER, daughter of former Ballou principal ‘Biff’ Carter, graduated ‘cum laude’ from Virginia State with a degree in biology. Sallie Jones, secy. at Anacostia Senior Center, served as DC delegate for Nat’l Red Cross meet, San Antonio, Tex. Linda Tolbert of Ballou High won top honors as a hurdler in the recent Coolidge Track meet. Linda is vying for the national trials in California. Potornac River Fest takes place Fri., Sat. and Sun., June 8, 9 and 10. Anacostia Historical Society meets Sat., Jun. 9, at museum. Fab, always on hand at 561-4100.

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Curtis Brothers “fine furniture;” Nichols Ave. at V. St. S.E. [Evening Star, 16 Sept., 1942, p. 5]

Curtis BrothersIf you don’t know about Curtis Brothers, you don’t know about old Anacostia. Here’s a prominent ad for the homegrown business in the Evening Star. More to come…

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Excerpt on architecture styles, “Anacostia As It Was: Black Life in the Late 1800s, Part II”

1887 Hopkins _ Plate 41 _ Uniontown“As a consequence of unanticipated shifts in the economy and various social changes, the Uniontown project was not a success for its developers and in 1877 they went bankrupt. It was at this point Frederick Douglass moved to Anacostia — acquiring John Van Hook’s house from the bank he had been compelled to convey it to.

Architectural historians have observed that Uniontown homes built before 1877 were more elaborate than those built after 1877, the two extant examples of these earlier structures are Frederick Douglass’ residence at Cedar Hill and an Italianate villa at 1312 U Street, S.E. These historians theorize that certain design features of Frederick Douglass’ residence, built by Van Hook, influenced other construction throughout the area. “These features include the steep gabled roof associated with the Gothic Revival Style, projecting eaves and bracketed cornices of the Italianate Style and various aspects of the cottage ideal promoted by landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing.”

The drastic change in architectural style after 1877 and the Union Land Association’s bankruptcy leads these historians to suggest that perhaps the first intended market for Uniontown was not the working class but the middle class and only after the Union Land Association’s bankruptcy were sights lowered to the working class. If so, this may help explain why blacks and Irish were living in Uniontown in 1880 and also in 1900. [54]

The change in Uniontown architecture reflected the demographic components of its residents. Working class people had to be accommodated with smaller, plainer structures which make up most of the extant structures of Uniontown today. Uniontown architecture is marked by detached single-family housing as well as row houses and duplexes. A distinctive feature, however, is the number of would-be rowhouses or duplexes separated far enough from their neighbors to allow open space on all sides of the house.

The development of these new dwelling units was, in a sense, as significant as any stylistic change. they quickly became the prevalent housing types for Old Anacostia, and provided an opportunity for incoming residents to purchase their own homes where they could still live comfortably and also enjoy the advantages of attractive surroundings. [55]

There were three basic types of residential buildings in Anacostia by the 1880s — two types of frame (one with horizontal, and occasionally vertical, siding and the other covered with lath and stucco) and an infrequent brick. This was because brick was considerably more expensive that frame and so never really caught on in Anacostia which was, as has been noted, decidedly working class. Frame houses were decorated with Cottage Style, Italianate or Mansard details but overall in a much simpler fashion than was used for brick dwellings in the city.”

 

SOURCE:

Anacostia Story Exhibit Records, Box 222; “Anacostia as it Was: Black Life in the Late 1800s” – Excerpt from thesis(?) by Marsha Greenleaf

 

 

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Rebels with a Cause; “Anacostia Unrest” [Evening Star, August 17, 1966]

Evening Star, August 17, 1966 (DC Public Library, Special Collections)

Evening Star, August 17, 1966 (DC Public Library, Special Collections)

On the night of Monday, August 15, 1966, racial tensions exploded in Anacostia. After the arrest of a black neighborhood teenager for assault on a white Maryland man provoked anger at police, hundreds of people protested in the street outside the 11th precinct headquarters at the junction of Morris Road, Nichols Avenue and Chicago Street. When officers brought in German Shepherds from a private security company, the crowd responded by throwing bottles, stones, and fireworks at the dogs. The police, in riot gear, charged the crowd, ultimately arresting at least 10 people. In the days that followed the city investigated the causes of the incident. Neighborhood groups of young people, including the Rebels with a Cause pictured here, organized to put pressure on the police to improve their relations with the community. Police quickly promised not to use dogs in the future, but the investigation would take more than a month to resolve itself. The incident hinted at the tense situation that the residents of Anacostia faced in dealing with the police nearly two years before the 1968 riots struck the entire city after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The full story of the 1966 Anacostia riot will be developed more here in the coming days.

SOURCES:
“Probe Panel Named in Anacostia Unrest,” Evening Star. 17 Aug. 1966: A1. (Image on A4.)
“Probe is Set on Violence in Anacostia,” Washington Post. 17 Aug. 1966: A1.

 

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“Rambler Finds a Story on Origin of Good Hope” [Evening Star, June 29, 1924]

Good Hope Road SE“The road leads to Good Hope, but before answering its call let me sit in the shade of a pine tree and tell you a story about an old friend of mine. His name is Herman Davis – Herman W. Davis is the full name. I think that everybody in Southeast Washington knows Herman. He has lived there long enough to get acquainted. He was born there seventy-nine years ago and he has stuck pretty close to the land of his birth. There are many interesting things about Herman, and one of them is that he has a good story about the origin of the name “Good Hope.” Herman’s father, Addison L. Davis, was born at Fredericksburg in 1814 and was married there to Miss Anne Dorothy Farrish, a beautiful girl of that ancient city and of a family whose family bore a brave part in the American revolution.

Addison Davis was graduated by the University of Virginia and was skillful in the arts or construing Latin and speaking French. He has, as Herman told me, learned something of the language of the Indians of this region. He came to Washington in 1840. And here we will let Herman take his place on this page in quote marks: “When I was quite a small boy my father took me walking to Good Hope, and on the Ridge road we came to a place where the woods had been cut away and where we got a fine view of the Eastern Branch. My father stopped and told me that the chief of the Anacostia Indians had stood there many years before and said in the Anacostia language: ‘Hope! Hope! Good Hope! This is Good Hope!’ He used the words the Indian has used, but if I ever knew them I have forgotten them.”

It is an interesting story. That savage did not not, of course say “Good Hope” in the way we say it. He did not even say “spe anomoque impletus,” nor even “bonne esperance,” but what he said sounded like “Ojibewaxon.” The Indian stood there, pointed to the shining, shimmering Eastern Branch, then raised his arms as though he would [shake] hands with heaven and said “Ojibewaxon.” Perhaps it was classic Anacostian for “Good Hope.”

SOURCE:

Evening Star, “Rambler Finds a Story on Origin of Good Hope.” June 29, 1924, pg. 77

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Plot to abduct Lincoln through old Anacostia [J. Wilkes Booth: An Account of His Sojourn in Southern Maryland, 1893]

Landscape“Sometime in December 1864, I heard that there was a ‘big scheme’ afoot to abduct President Lincoln and take him a prisoner to Washington.

Briefly stated, the plan was this: The President when he went for his customary evening drive toward the Navy Yard, was to be seized and either chloroformed or gagged, and driven quietly out of the city. If in crossing the Navy Yard Bridge the carriage should be stopped, the captors would point to the President and drive on. The carriage was to be escorted out of the city by men dressed in Federal uniform. Relays of fast horses were in readiness all along the route….”

This route would have taken Lincoln through Anacostia. After shooting Lincoln, Booth crossed the Navy Yard Bridge and waited for an accomplice at the corner of Monroe and Harrison Streets, today MLK and Good Hope Road.

SOURCE:

Jones, Thomas., J. Wilkes BoothAn Account of His Sojourn in Southern Maryland After the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, His Passage Across the Potomac, and His Death in Virginia. (1893)

 

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1334 U Street SE – Old Anacostia Historic District (circa 1980)

DC Public Library, Special Collections

DC Public Library, Special Collections

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