Posts Tagged Washington Post

Washington Post: Louise Daniel Hutchinson, scholar of black history, dies at 86


By: Emily Langer

Washington Post

October 25 at 4:25 PM

Louise Daniel Hutchinson, who gathered, documented and preserved African American history during 13 years as director of research at the Smithsonian Institution’s Anacostia Community Museum in Southeast Washington, died Oct. 12 at her home in the District. She was 86.

The cause was vascular dementia, said a daughter, Donna Marshall.

Mrs. Hutchinson spent much of her adult life working to collect and share with others the richness of African American history in Washington and beyond. After years of community activism, she joined the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum (as it was then known) in 1974 and retired in 1987.

Under the leadership of founding director John R. Kinard, she oversaw exhibits covering years of history in the Anacostia community, the movement of blacks from Africa to overseas colonies and the life and accomplishments of Frederick Douglass, the former slave, abolitionist and distinguished writer.

She took particular interest in documenting the lives of African American women such as Anna J. Cooper, who was born into slavery and became a noted educator and equal rights advocate. “Even black history hasn’t given black women their proper place,” Mrs. Hutchinson once told the New York Times.

Gail Lowe, the Anacostia Community Museum’s senior historian, credited Mrs. Hutchinson with elevating the work of the research department and using individual life stories to illuminate broader history. “In telling the local stories,” Lowe said in an interview, “she validated community experiences.”
Mrs. Hutchinson was “a stickler for accuracy and authenticity,” Lowe said, and insisted that researchers keep magnifying glasses on hand for the close inspection of old photographs. Mrs. Hutchinson, Lowe recalled, spotted Harriet Tubman and W.E.B. DuBois in previously unidentified images.

“Because of the level and depth of her work,” Lowe said, “she was able to . . . provide accurate, documented information that other researchers and scholars relied on.”

Louise Hazel Daniel, one of nine children, was born June 3, 1928, in Ridge, Md., and grew up in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington. Her parents, Victor Hugo Daniel and Constance E.H. Daniel, were teachers and friends of the African American intellectuals and educators George Washington Carver and Mary McLeod Bethune.

After graduating in 1946 from the old Armstrong Technical High School in the District, Mrs. Hutchinson attended colleges including Howard University and did secretarial work before beginning her career in historical preservation. In the 1970s, she assisted curators at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery with the selection of paintings featuring prominent African Americans, her daughter said.

Mrs. Hutchinson’s writings included the books “The Anacostia Story, 1608-1930” (1977), “Out of Africa: From West African Kingdoms to Colonization” (1979) and “Anna J. Cooper: A Voice from the South” (1981).

Mrs. Hutchinson’s daughter Laura Hutchinson died in infancy, and her son Mark Hutchinson died in 1974, at age 8, of a brain tumor.

Survivors include her husband of 64 years, Ellsworth W. Hutchinson Jr. of the District; five children, Ronald Hutchinson of Fort Washington, Md., David Hutchinson of Clifton Park, N.Y., Donna Marshall of Laurel, Md., Dana McCoy of the District and Victoria L. Boston of Clinton, Md.; two brothers, John Daniel of the District and Robert Daniel of Atlanta; a sister, C. Dorothea Lawson of Bay City, Tex.; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

In addition to her museum work, Mrs. Hutchinson participated in initiatives such as the development of D.C. Public Schools curriculum in the 1980s that incorporated the roles of black leaders in local events.

“I have real concerns about accuracy of history,” she told The Washington Post. “I believe it must reflect [the] participation of all.”


Leave a comment

William Alston sentenced for attempted burglary & armed robbery [Washington Post, 27 April, 1972; B2]

William Alston _ sentenced 1972

, , , ,

Leave a comment

“Nine Arrested on Drug Charges After 2 1/2 Month District Probe” [Washington Post, June 2, 1980]

WP_6.2.1980 _ William Alston, 32 - distribution of drugsNine persons were arrested Saturday on drug charges stemming from a 2 1/2 month investigation of drug trafficking in far Southeast Washington and on the fringes of Capitol Hill.

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.]

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

“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.


, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

“Center for Anacostia Studies: Changing An Image” [Washington Post, October 23, 1975]

WP _ 10.23.1975 _ Center for Anacostia StudiesIf the Center for Anacostia Studies or the Anacostia Historical Society still exists, it is only in abstraction.

, , ,

Leave a comment

Can the city save two historic abandominiums in Old Anacostia?

Old Anacostia’s abandominiums abide. Some vacant a matter of weeks, others a couple years, many a decade or two or three. “An entire generation of children have grown up in Anacostia only knowing a neighborhood of abandominiums,” says local activist William Alston-El.

“Big Green” at 1220 Maple View in Historic Anacostia was recently acquired by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

“Ask Rip Van Winkle; he could tell you the last time someone was living there,” Alston-El remarks as we stand in front of a two-story Victorian home at 1220 Maple View SE that has been abandoned for parts of six decades according to property records. A look down the street unfolds a panorama of the city with the Capitol Dome punctuating the skyline.

“The city owns it now. You think they’ll save it? They’re the only ones that can. They could if they wanted to but this isn’t the Anacostia people want to talk about.”

“Big Green” in old Anacostia has been vacant for parts of 6 decades, according to property records.

Teal paint still clings in places to the window frames of the home, known as “Big Green,” built in 1902 for N. R. Harnish, the shopkeeper at the Government Hospital for the Insane, just up Nichols Avenue, today Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Popular neighborhood myth has incorrectly held that the home was that of Dr. Charles H. Nichols, the first superintendent of the Government Hospital, today known as Saint Elizabeths. (Nichols died in December 1889 and lived on campus.)

By the late 1880s Harnish, an emigrant from Nova Scotia, was working at the Hospital and making $50 a month, according to government reportsIn 1901, Harnish was making more than $65 a month, and his wife, Annie, was making $18 as the assistant storekeeper. The next year, Harnish applied for a building permit to construct a two-story, multi-family dwelling for an estimated cost of $4,000.


View of the side of “Big Green” with 2/3 of a new foundation and boards holding up the home’s rear.

In August 1933, at the age of ninety-one, Nathaniel Robert Harnish passed away at his home. His funeral was held at Emanuel Episcopal Church at 13th and V Streets and he was interred at Rock Creek Cemetery. In February 1952, Annie S. Harnish, a resident of Washington for more than 60 years, passed away at 1220 Maple View Place. She was 98 years old. In November the property was transferred to a new owner, Rose Lawler, pursuant with Harnish’s will. In September of 1954 the home’s deed of trust was mortgaged by the Anacostia Federal Savings and Loan Association for $9,5000 with monthly payments of $71.25. A decade later, the house was returned to Lawler.

Ad from the January 1965 Washington Post for 1220 Maple View Place.

Soon thereafter, in late 1964, the home was advertised in the Post as being “VACANT – DECORATED.” The listing for 1220 Maple View SE read, “DETACHED TWO FAMILY, 2 klts., 2 baths, 10 rms., full bsmt., auto. heat., conv. area.” The ad ran for a number of months.

It is unclear from subsequent property and tax records when the house was next occupied. In conversations with area residents it appears the home may have been lived in for a short period during the 1980s. Other residents, such as Alston-El, are unable to confirm this, believing the home to be vacant for more than three decades. According to property records, Citicorp foreclosed on the home in March of 1990 when more than $19,000 was owed on the principal of the mortgage. According to property records and a 1992 real estate assessment directory, the home was purchased in May 1990 for $50,000 by a private individual. It has been continuously vacant since, with the exception of the occasional squatter or alley cat.

In recent years only squatters and alley cats have dared enter 1220 Maple View Place.

A number of years ago what remained of the decaying wrap-around porch was removed. More recently, in late 2005 and early 2006, a new foundation was laid in the back two-thirds of the home with original brick remaining towards the front. The rear has been held up from collapse by a weathered series of boards that extend at a 45 degree angle into the ground, nearly extending into the alley.


The rear of 1220 Maple View Place SE is held up by a series of boards.

The rear of 1220 Maple View Place SE is held up by a series of boards.

On May 20 the Department of Community and Housing Development secured the tax deed for just under $38,000. The proposed 2015 property value of the home and land are $157,470. According to a local developer familiar with historic preservation efforts in Anacostia, the cost of a full restoration could run well over a million dollars. “You could spend easy a half-million before you even start on the inside work. It’s leaning. It has to be stabilized. It could need a new roof, you got the porch to restore. It’s not going to be cheap,” the developer said on condition of anonymity.

Carol Goldman, President of The L’Enfant Trust wrote in an email,”I think ‘Big Green’ could well be a six figure rehabilitation project. In the Trust’s model, it would take charitable funding as well as and end user dollars – for example a veterans group, workforce housing group, or for an arts/community/education center.”

Does DHCD have a restoration plan for 1220 Maple View Place SE? Can the house be saved or will it vanish while under the city’s care like 2228 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE?

In order to save the home, the city will have to act quickly, likely selling the property for a $1 and substantially subsidizing its restoration with grants. Through decades of private inattention and a lack of aggressive enforcement of public policies intended to prevent the demolition by neglect of old Anacostia, the razing of the property may be inevitable.

The acquisition of “Big Green” swells DHCD’s portfolio of abandominiums within Anacostia to over a dozen vacant residential and commercial properties. Here’s a look at another agency property in immediate need of preservation and restoration.

1326 Valley Place SE

Valley Place SE in 1885. Photo from the Historical Society of Washington.

In 1885 local streetcar president Henry A. Griswold built five detached single family homes as the first development to line Valley Street in Uniontown. To generate interest in his properties, which were built on speculation, Griswold put trees in front of each home and had a photograph taken that he distributed throughout the neighborhood.

The first 5 homes on Valley Street SE shown on an 1887 Hopkins Real Estate Map. Photo from DC Public Library, Special Collections.

In the mid-1930s a room for rent at 1326 Valley Place was advertised for $20 per month in local newspapers. By the late 1930s Earl Von Reichenbach, a prominent local architect, lived at the home with his son and dog. During World War II the address is listed for a GI returning to Washington but otherwise the public record on the home is rather bare. In 1985 the home was listed in a legal notice printed in the Post seeking owners of abandoned property. A private individual appears to have made a claim of ownership to the city but never acquired the deed.

1326 Valley Place in Historic Anacostia in 2010 before being re-acquired by the city.

According to property records, 1326 Valley Place was sold by the city in 2005 at a foreclosure auction for $2,044.14 to Darwin Trust Properties, LLC. Darwin Trust’s CEO was incarcerated while the city pursued legal action against the company under the demolition by neglect statute, one of only two times the city has prosecuted the statute. Through the litigation, the city was able to get a court order to let DCRA abate the property.

1326 Valley Place SE was cut in half a number of years ago to prevent further deterioration.

At some point in recent memory an industrial machine was brought in to cut off the rear of the home as though it was a loaf of bread. This was done in an effort to prevent further deterioration of the room which still has its original banister.

After half a decade of further deterioration, the city finally re-acquired the property in a November 2011 foreclosure sale for just under $12,000. According to a 2015 proposed tax assessment, the house is worth less than $2,500 and the land is valued $125,330 for a total of $127,750. In 2011 the property had a value of $135,900.

The contrast between 1326 Valley Place and 1328 Valley Place.

Last year the exterior of 1328 Valley Place SE, next door and one of the original five homes on the street, was fully restored, in part through a popular grant program coordinated by the Historic Preservation Office that targets 14 Historic Districts citywide. Given the historic character of 1326 Valley Place, we hope the city finds a way to restore what’s left. The rebirth of old Anacostia cannot occur with the continued neglect and slow death of one of the oldest homes in the city’s first subdivision.

Built in 1885, 1326 Valley Place SE hangs on for dear life in old Anacostia.

Can public policy save the homes?
DHCD is in the business of acquiring property within the purview and purpose of economic development. Preservation is not within their mission. The condition of 1220 Maple View Place and 1326 Valley Place is a result of decades of collective public and private neglect. As a last resort of preservation, the two properties have been acquired by the city. Now an effective policy or set of policies must be implemented to save these homes. Nothing less than the survival of old Anacostia is at stake.


A cluster of city-owned abandominiums at the top of Maple View Place and High Street in Anacostia were razed last summer.

Previous efforts have been made. For example, to apply pressure on owners of vacant and blighted properties, city legislators passed the “Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Support Act of 2010” which created a Class 3 property tax rate for vacant commercial and residential properties and a Class 4 tax rate for blighted properties. Class 3 properties are taxed at $5 per $100 of assessed value, Class 4 properties $10 per $100 of assessed value.

In contrast, Class 1, residential real property including multi-family, are assessed at $0.85 per $100, and Class 2, commercial and industrial, are taxed $1.65 per $100 up to the first $3 million of assessed value, and $1.85 for value exceeding $3 million.

1648 U Street SE in old Anacostia has been owned by the city since 2004.

This well-intentioned policy may cause vacant and blighted properties to rebound in strong markets such as Bloomingdale, Capitol Hill, Columbia Heights, Eckington, LeDroit Park and Shaw but in Anacostia the market is too soft for a return on investment. The risk in the private market is too great.

The L’Enfant Trust expects to put 1347 Maple View Place SE (pictured here) and 2010 14th Street SE on the market this fall.

As mentioned last monthThe L’Enfant Trust is putting more than $600,000 in grant money, pro-bono construction work and material donations towards each of the two homes the organization is restoring in Anacostia. They anticipate selling the homes for $350,000. For years restoration projects have stalled or stopped entirely. The Trust has moved according to its schedule in returning the properties to productive use. Their work is a ready and ongoing model for the city to follow.

Last summer, Aaron Wiener at the City Paper wrote about a property in Park View that shares a similar background as the two properties the city has acquired in old Anacostia.

To save these abandoned properties, he suggests, the “solution could be to bring the identification, acquisition, and disposal of vacant and blighted properties under a single agency with broader powers (and better funding for purchasing properties) than any of the relevant offices currently have. It could be a new budget initiative devoted exclusively to this purpose, or a law making it easier to tackle the legal hurdles to acquiring orphaned properties, or some combination.”

The “piecemeal approach we have now” harms neighborhoods citywide and has slowly destroyed some of the oldest homes in Anacostia. It is a tragedy so many homes have already been lost. Once these homes are gone they only exist in old newspapers, maps, property records, memories and blog posts. We need to do everything to save them while we still can.

What do you think? Should these houses be saved? Can they be saved? We hope so.

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

Wash Post: Busboys and Poets owner plans Anacostia restaurant and training program

Busboys and Poets owner plans Anacostia restaurant and training program

Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets and recent candidate for D.C. mayor. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

Andy Shallal, owner of Busboys and Poets and recent candidate for D.C. mayor. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)

In his Busboys and Poets restaurants, owner Andy Shallal frequently weaves together food and drink with arts, music and performance space. 

With his newest project he may be adding a new component: education and job training.

Shallal recently signed a letter of intent to open a restaurant in a former furniture store on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast, in Anacostia, according to two sources familiar with the deal. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because a final agreement has not been signed.

The property, located at 2004-2010 Martin Luther King, would have a Shallal restaurant on the first floor that would be combined with a culinary training program.

The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which supports community development projects in D.C. neighborhoods, has signed on as an investor in the project. Shallal declined to comment.

Shallal, a recent candidate for D.C. mayor, may soon have restaurants in all corners of the city. If he opens a Busboys at the location it would likely be his seventh in the region and it would be the first of his popular restaurants to open east of the Anacostia River. He is opening a fifth Busboys in Takoma and will open a sixth in Brookland this fall.

Shallal made economic development a major part of his mayoral campaign platform, proposing to fund more programs for job readiness and working to reduce poverty by creating good jobs. He repeatedly pledged to open a restaurant east of the river and said recently that he was considering multiple locations in Anacostia.

Unlike many neighborhoods in Northwest, where restaurants have been opening at a breakneck pace, Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue has added bits of retail in fits and starts during the past few years. The two-story brick building – long adorned with an America’s Furniture sign — has been vacant in recent years but was purchased in late 2012 by the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, for $2.2 million. 

The former furniture store, on Martin Luther King, will be renovated into a restaurant and office space (Jeffrey MacMillan - Capital Business)

The organization, founded in 1996, connects children and families in Ward 8 to safety net services and has been eliciting input from residents about what they would like to see added to the neighborhood.

“Once we purchased the property on MLK we engaged the community in a series of conversations to really hear about what they saw as needs in the community, and what they would like to see on the avenue and in the space,” said Perry Moon Jr., executive director of the group.

The collaborative plans to build its new offices on the second floor of the building, where it will relocate from the Anacostia Professional Building down the street. Moon declined to discuss the plans for the first floor but said residents wanted “training programs that led to employment” and that part of that meant “bringing retail in the community and opportunities for folks to do stuff in their own community.”

Basic demolition work has begun and Moon said that once construction begins it should last about a year.

“Most people who live in this community, their desires are pretty similar. So it’s really our goal to help kind of be a catalyst for economic development as part of our mission,” he said.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

, , , , ,

Leave a comment