May 25, 2010

Civic Associations Past

Gen. William Birney lived in the mansard-roofed duplex on Anna J. Cooper Circle.

The LeDroit Park Civic Association meets tonight, following a long tradition of meetings to improve the neighborhood. Take a look at this newspaper article from the National Republican published on March 26, 1881:

Improvements Proposed by the Property Owners.

In response to a call issued, there was a very full attendance of the members of Le Droit Park Property Owners’ Association last night in the park. The meeting was called to order by Mr. W. Scott Smith1, the president of the association, who proceeded to state what had been done since the last meeting to promote the interests of the park and the large number of residents living therein. The first business before the association was the election of officers for the ensuing year. On motion of General W. W. Birney2, Mr. W Scott Smith was unanimously re-elected president of the association, Colonel O. H. Irish3 was nominated and elected vice-president; James H. McGill4, secretary; J. J. Albright5, treasurer, and E. B. Barnum6 the additional member of the executive committee. The president said he had recently had an interview with the District Commissioners, and the lighting of two additional gas lamps in the park had been ordered. He had seen the Major and Superintendent of Police about giving the park better police protection, and had received assurances that the matter should receive prompt attention, and an officer detailed specially for night duty in the park.

General Birney submitted a motion, which was adopted, that a vote of thanks be extended to the president of the association for his active efforts during the past year in behalf of the park.

The question of opening a new street on the east side of the Park, running from Boundary street [now Florida Avenue] through to the Soldiers’ Home, then came up, and gave rise to considerable discussion, all concurring in the opinion that such a street was needed. A resolution was the offered and adopted that the members of the association will co-operate heartily with the District Commissioners in securing the opening of such a street and road, and instructing the executive committee to take steps to make effective such co-operation. Attention was directed to the fact that all the houses and a large amount of property in the Park were greatly exposed and jeopardized in case of a fire by the action of the water department in shutting off the pressure of water between the hours of midnight and five o’clock a.m., and thus practically preventing the flow of water in the park. The executive committee were directed to look in the matter and endeavor to have it remedied as soon as possible. The need of a fire-engine in the northern section of the city was regarded as very pressing. After discussing various other matters and directing that rules be prepared for the government and guidance of the special day-policemen, the meeting adjourned.


  1. Private secretary to the Secretary of the Interior; resident of 525 T Street NW.  Halford, A. J.  Official Congressional Directory. Washington: GPO, 1900.
  2. Civil War general; resident of 1901 Third Street NW.  Read more at Wikipedia.
  3. Head of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing among other accomplishments; resident of 1907 Third Street NW.  National Republican. Washington,  Jan. 13, 1879 and Richardson, F. A. Congressional Directory.  Washington: GPO, 1880.
  4. Architect of LeDroit Park.
  5. Wealthy coal distributor.  Cutter, Library Journal. Vol. 17.  New York: ALA, 1892.
  6. Tailor and clothier, E. B. Barnum & Co.; resident of 1883 Third Street NW.  Boyd, William Henry. Boyd’s Directory of the District of Columbia.  Washington: Boyd, 1887.
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