An academic’s prestige is usually measured by the degree to which his peers admire his work. Any job where success depends on reputation is bound to be a difficult and political career. Howard biologist Ernest Everett Just (1883-1941), who lived at 412 T Street in LeDroit Park, faced a constant struggle for recognition for his groundbreaking work in biology in the early 20th century.
I occasionally give history tours of the neighborhood. My tour touches on two major themes: the neighborhood’s eclectic architecture and the prominent black Americans who lived in LeDroit Park. I had never heard of Just before moving to LeDroit Park, but in researching topics for my tour I came across a 1995 postage stamp commemorating him. This makes him the first of two LeDroit Park residents featured on postage stamps.
Two months ago, a neighbor who was a researcher at Howard University recommended Kenneth Manning‘s 1983 biography of Just. He assured me that the book, entitled Black Apollo of Science, detailed all the administrative problems at Howard that still exist to this day.
I picked up the book hoping to read historical accounts of LeDroit Park while Just lived in the neighborhood. Though there was very little about the neighborhood, the book provided interesting stories about Howard University’s administrative and financial troubles during the early 20th century.
The book was light on LeDroit Park and Washington because Just himself increasingly disliked teaching at Howard and the pervasive racism he faced living in the United States. In the 1920s, midway through his career, Just began to spend more time conducting research at research institutes in Berlin; Naples; and Roscoff, France. He deliberately avoided returning to the Marine Biology Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where he felt he was socially isolated because of his race. Just saw Europe as an escape from racism he faced at home.
In Europe Just could finally attend the same operas he had seen advertised in Washington’s whites-only venues and he could travel and book hotels without worrying that his reservations would be rejected due to Jim Crow.
Whether Just was pursuing his PhD at the University of Chicago or conducing research in Massachusetts or Europe, his wife and children remained in LeDroit Park at 412 T Street. But as Just eventually grew apart from the United States, he also grew apart from his wife. Just took several lovers in Europe during his research stints and he eventual filed for divorce from his wife Ethel in the late ’30s. This was a formality, though, as their love had died many years ago.
Though Just was in France at the time of the 1940 census, the census ledger lists him as the absent head of household at 412 T Street.
The Just family stood out for its educational attainment. Notice that in column 14, Just is listed as having completed eight years of college, an outstanding accomplishment even by today’s standards. His wife had finished six years of college, his son four, and his daughter Maribel, aged 17, was in her first year of college.
Out of pure luck, Just was listed on line 68, which was one of two lines per page that the Census Bureau selected for supplmentary questions.
Here Just stands out again. Though most LeDroit residents were listed as maids, porters, or laborers, Just’s profession is listed as “Zoology professor” at Howard University.
Just’s life was not easy. He grew up in poverty and his father died when Just was a child. Just’s mother was a teacher who valued his education dearly and she sent him as a teenager to a boarding school in New Hampshire. During his time at boarding school, his mother died, leaving Just orphaned but independent.
After boarding school, he proceeded to Dartmouth to study classics and biology, the field to which he devoted his entire career. Since few universities at the time would hire black researchers or professors, Just took a position at Howard University and in 1912 became the head of Howard’s Department of Zoology.
The Howard position was Just’s main source of income for the rest of his life and he used it, along with a few private grants, to fund his research in Massachusetts and Europe. Though Just kept his position at Howard until his death, he spent many semesters and summers studying marine biology far away from Washington. Howard, it seems, was only a source of income for Just, as he frequently battled with the university’s administration for more equipment, more funding, and more research time.
Howard’s presidents, especially Mordecai Johnson, demanded that Just focus less on research and more on teaching and building a graduate zoology program.
Johnson wasn’t the only person pressuring Just. White philanthropists who wanted to raise academic achievement and living standards of American blacks funded Just’s work with the goal that he would train aspiring black scientists and doctors. Their hope was that Just would train black biology students so they could study medicine and return to the rural south where white doctors would not treat black patients.
Just, however, wanted philanthropic funding to support his biological research efforts, not his teaching efforts. Just preferred research and appeared far more interested in advancing the human understanding of cell biology.
Old letters Manning uncovered reveal that Just held a low opinion of Howard undergraduates during his tenure. Just thought teaching biology to them was a waste of time and would distract him from important research.
To teach or to research? This is an old academic controversy. Many professors prefer to conduct research because they find it more intellectually satisfying and because it builds their careers, expertise, and reputations. At universities that rely heavily on tuition fees for their income, administrators realize that teaching is an important source of income.
For Just, the written correspondence between him and various philanthropies shows that because he was black, he was expected to carry the herculean task of advancing both the human understanding of biology and the welfare of his race— a burden his white benefactors did not place on white scientists. These expectations, though well intentioned, continually hindered Just’s career as his appeals for research grants rarely bore fruit. Various foundations and Howard administrators urged Just to spend more effort building a biology program and producing trained biologists.
Just found a warmer reception in Germany, Italy, and France, where scientists were more eager to collaborate with him and build on his work. While in Europe, Just dated several women. He even established residence in Latvia briefly so he could quickly file for divorce from his wife in Washington. He eventually decided to mary his German mistress and start a life in Europe, even if it meant resigning his post at Howard and living in penury in Europe.
Failing to win grants, though, Just held onto his Howard position as his sole source of income. Just’s time in Europe was productive. He published his most renowned works on cell biology and cell fertilization during this self-exile.
His new-found haven across the Atlantic didn’t remain peaceful for long. Though he had tried to escape racism in the United States, Nazi violence had made Berlin inhospitable. In Italy, Just’s appeals to Mussolini for research funding went nowhere and Italian biology conferences became fascist propaganda events.
Just’s final European post in France came under Nazi control and Just was ordered to leave. The advancement of fascism eventually made this European exile untenable. Sadly, everywhere Just went, some virulent -ism— racism, fascism, Nazism— eventually caught up with him.
Just returned to the United States with his new wife and newborn child. His new wife and child settled in New Jersey, but Just had to return to work for pay at Howard. Suffering from pancreatic cancer, Just stayed with his sister Inez at 1853 3rd Street, here in LeDroit Park. His health was in rapid decline and in October 1941 Just died.
Despite having overturned a ruling theory of cell fertilization, Just never fully received the professional recognition he desired and deserved. He was always tied to Howard, even though he wanted desperately to leave to focus solely on research. Howard tied him to Washington, a city whose segregation degraded him. Washington also tied him to a wife he no longer loved.
Manning’s book is very well researched and combs through many of Just’s letters to colleagues, mentors, friends, and lovers. It tells a fascinating account of race relations in America, the history of biology research, and one man’s unhappy task facing down all these problems.
Manning was able to weave these threads of science, race, academia, and Just’s personal life into a unified and compelling work accessible to the general reader. Happy endings are the work of fiction writers; Just’s story is more poignant because it recounts a life marked by great successes and great disappointments.
WJLA reports that a swarm of 20,000 bees took over the front porch of a home on 3rd Street. An exterminator tried to get ride of the colony, but the bees are back.
The bees have displaced the house’s residents, so the prospect of free honey is insufficient consolation.
LeDroit Park and Bloomingdale history buffs need to mark their calendars for Thursday night. The LeDroit Park-Bloomingdale Heritage Trail Working Group will meet to go over updates to the pending bi-neighborhood heritage trail.
You’ve seen these heritage trails elsewhere in Washington. The signs feature historical photographs and explanations of the areas’ historical significance.
At the last meeting we attended, we heard from residents who lived in the neighborhood that stood where the Gage-Eckington School was later built, neighbors who had to walk several extra blocks to school because Washington ran a segregated school system, and neighbors who remember seeing Eleanor Roosevelt visiting what is now Slowe Hall at 3rd and U Streets.
These are the oral histories that Cultural Tourism, which organizes these trails, documents for the historical record and includes in the signs. So much of Washington’s history, nay human history, is committed to memory that if we don’t record it, it risks being lost.
The trail, which is put together by Cultural Tourism DC, is close to completion, but the next few meetings are critical in determining final details and extra stories that may be incorporated. Even if you don’t have stories or original research to contribute, attending the meeting solely to listen will be worthwhile.
Thursday, April 19 at 7 pm
St. George’s Church (basement)
2nd & U Streets NW
Who are your neighbors? In December, LeDroit Park resident Robert Sullivan launched a website Portait City that features audio and photographic profiles of several LeDroit Park residents. You may not know these subjects personally and perhaps maybe you have seen them in the neighborhood. Nonetheless, they each provide a fascinating mosaic of LeDroit Park.
Interview subjects include Bobby Donaldson, the South Carolina native who opened B&J Barbeque at Rhode Island Avenue and 3rd Street. You’ll find out what inspired him to open a restaurant and what people like in their barbeque.
LeDroit resident and former Ward 1 councilmember Frank Smith spent part of his youth as a civil rights worker in rural Mississippi. Mr. Smith recorded and reported civil rights abuses, such as bogus “literacy tests” that southern states used to prohibit black residents from voting. Here how he reacted to Marion Barry’s infamous arrest.
Hear from the Elks Lodge and their relationship with the neighborhood. You can also hear Elks reminisce about performances at the Howard Theatre back in the day.
Finally, Robert was able to interview LeDroit residents Dolores Baylor and her daughter Mechelle just before Dolores died in December. Mechelle explains what it was like growing up in the neighborhood and Dolores recounts what it was like living through the riots of 1968.
The lives of famous figures in history are well-documented, but it is also important to record the experiences and views of the not-so-famous. Robert contracted your author, who is a professional web developer by day, to build the site. While building the site, we couldn’t help but notice that each story delivered its own unexpected poignancy.
Two years ago we wrote about the old street names for LeDroit Park. Finding out just when the name change occurred is hard to pin down. Different sources, from address directories to newspaper articles, refer to old names and new names during the same period of time.
The mystery is closer to resolution, however, as we found what we believe to be the earliest reference to the name change:
New Names for Le Droit Park Streets.
July 31, 1890
The names of the streets in Le Droit Park have been changed as follows: Le Droit Park avenue to Second street, Harewood avenue to Third street, Linden street to Fourth street, Larch street to Fifth street, Juniper street to Sixth street, and Maple avenue to T street.
There appears to be an error in the article as ‘Le Droit avenue’ never actually had ‘Park’ in its name.
The Park at LeDroit was built on the site of the Gage-Eckington School. The school, built in the 1970s, was itself built over streets, houses and apartment buildings.
At the time, 3rd Street extended north of Elm Street and dead-ended just before reaching V Street. Oakdale Place extended eastward from its current terminus at the park to dead-end at what is now the eastern boundary of the park.
Two apartment buildings on the site, the Linden and the Harewood were named after local streets. Before the city changed the neighborhood’s street names, 3rd Street was Harewood Avenue and 4th Street was Linden Street.
We found this 1901 description of the apartments. What’s most notable is that the apartments are marketed to black Washingtonians and thus reflects the neighborhood’s turn-of-the-century transition from a white neighborhood to a black neighborhood.
THE LINDEN AND HAREWOOD FLATS
Le Droit Park—Corner of Harewood and Oak Streets.
The Colored American
January 5, 1901
Mr. Banes the the real estate dealer has erected two of the most modern flats in Washington situated in Le Droit Park. The situation of these flats is an ideal one, on Third street, two doors from the Fourt street car line. The finish of the flats is elegant, and they have a preposessing appearance. They are three stories high, and each floor has three flats of four rooms each and bath. The whole flat is heated by steam, thus saving the necessary expense of buying fuel. Each flat has a parlor, dinning [sic] room, bed room, kitchen, and bath room and private hall rooms, and halls are heated by steam. The kitchens have a modern gas range, hot and cold water, cupboards, pantry attachment. These flats are no doubt, the best in the city. Persons having a large family can easily rent two adjoining flats saving the enormous rent of an entire house. They are thoroughly and artistically finished. The walls are papered and frescoed, and glasses of a large size, supported by a modern mantel piece are in each parlor. Le Droit Park has become a pleasant part of Washington in which to reside and these beautiful flats are a happy addition to the residences there. Mr. Banes has spared no pains in making these flats comfortable and inviting and already applications are being made for retals thereof. Colored people with first class reference who desire a beautiful part of the city in which to live, and at the same time occupy comfortable and improved apartments without renting a whole house, and paying high rent, can find a happy medium in these flats. The terms are easy. The buildings are open daily for inspection. For further information call at the office of Mr. Charles E. Banes, corner of 14th and G sts. n. w.
In preparation for redistricting Ward 1′s ANCs, the DC Office of Planning has released block-by-block demographic data for the District. We have combined the data for the blocks that comprise LeDroit Park to create a LeDroit Park census.
Analyzing U.S. Census data for LeDroit Park proves difficult because the of the way census tracts are drawn. Our census tract, 34, combines LeDroit Park and Howard University. Dorms on the northern end of the campus, far away from LeDroit Park, account for 717 of the tract’s 4,347 residents, thus skewing tract data. Furthermore, the tract also inclues several blocks bounded by Rhode Island Avenue NW, Florida Avenue NW, and 2nd Street NW.
Fortunately, the Census Bureau provides data for each block, allowing us to combine the statistics for those blocks in LeDroit Park, while excluding the Howard University campus. In the map below, we have outlined the tract in blue and shaded the blocks for LeDroit Park in red.
View LeDroit Park Census in a larger map
Though LeDroit Park started out as an exclusively white suburban neighborhood, by 1910 the neighborhood was almost entirely black. Today, 100 years later, the neighborhood is 70% black and is continuing to diversify.
However, when looking at the numbers on a block-by-block basis, you see that the neighborhood demography, must like that of the District itself, is unevenly distributed.
The block bounded by 5th Street, T Street, 6th Street, and U Street is 53% white, the highest in the neighborhood. Likewise, the block containing the Kelly Miller public housing is 91% black, the highest percentage in the neighborhood. The block containing the arch and the Florida Avenue Baptist Church comes closest to black-white equilibrium at 44% and 49% for each group respectively.
When looking at total population numbers for each block, you see that the two most populous blocks contain Howard University dorms. The block bounded by 2nd Street, T Street, 3rd Street, and Elm Street has 382 residents and contains Slowe Hall, which houses 299 students.
The second most populous block contains the new park. However, it also contains Carver Hall, which itself houses 173 students. Certainly these blocks are big, but the fact that their population numbers are off the chart has more to do with student dorms than with any inherent difference in housing density.
Finally, when we look at housing vacancy, we see that the block bounded by 5th Street, T Street, 6th Street and U Street has 38% of its housing units vacant. We’re not sure what’s causing this number, but we suspect that the apartment building at 5th and U Streets NW boosted the vacancy rate. The building has since been finished and is fully rented.
The block with the second-highest rate of vacancy contains the now-renovated Ledroit Place condo building at 1907 3rd Street NW.
It would be interesting too look at other data, including household income, car ownership, and age distribution for the neighborhood. However, the Office of Planning’s spreadsheet only covered population numbers, racial distribution, and housing unit numbers, so those are the metrics we graphed.
We’re back from our half-month vacation and LeDroit Park and Shaw are about to see some construction action starting today.
Wednesday, September 1 – 10:30 am
Just when we thought construction on the park on the site of the old Gage-Eckington School would begin, along came the parks scandal last October. Then in March, Harry Thomas Jr. (D – Ward 5) tried to prevent the mayor from appropriating money to the park project; he then reversed himself after an avalanche of constituent criticism. The new contract was ready to go until Councilmember Marion Barry (D – Ward 8) put a hold on the contract in late July. Mr. Barry’s delay procedure just expired and the mayor’s office will host a groundbreaking ceremony today at 10:30 am at Third and Elm Streets.
Over in Shaw, the two block site currently occupied by Giant and a crumbling old market façade is about to start its journey to become a vibrant mixed-use development. Join the Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), Mayor Adrian Fenty (D), Council Chairman Vincent Gray (D), Councilmember Jack Evans (D – Ward 2) and Councilmember Kwame Brown (D – at large) for the groundbreaking.
Thursday, September 2 – 10:45 am
After years of planning and promises, construction on the Howard Theatre begins in earnest. Join the developer, ANC Commissioner Myla Moss, and other notables for the official groundbreaking.
We’re relieved to see these long-promised projects finally moving forward to construction.
The following is a Washington Times article from 1903. The article explains some of the early history of the neighborhood and even includes three photos, the first of which was misidentified as Fifth Street, though we have actually matched it up with Second Street. We have included a few links to related information.
HOW LE DROIT PARK CAME TO BE ADDED TO THE CITY
Sunday, May 31, 1903
For Many Years the Section of Washington Known by That Name Had Practically Its Separate Government and Had All the Characteristics of a Country Town, Although Plainly Within the Boundary Limits. * * *
In that portion of Florida Avenue between Seventh Street and Eighth Streets northwest where the street cars of the Seventh Street line and the Ninth Street line pass over the same tracks, thousands of passengers are carried every day, and probably but a few if any realize the fact that they are passing over a road older than the organization of the city, a road that dates back to the Revolutionary period— the Bladensburg Road, which connected Georgetown with Bladensburg before the location of the National Capital was determined.
The Map on the Wall.
If the people passing this point will note the little frame building occupied by a florist, 713 Florida Avenue northwest, they will observe that in front of these premises and fastened to the blacksmith shop adjoining is a goodly sized signboard on which is painted an old map of this section and showing the intersection of the old Blandensburg Road and Boundary Street, now known as Florida Avenue. From this map it is seen that Seventh Street Road [now Georgia Avenue] intersects Boundary Street and the old Bladensburg Road at a point about 100 feet east of where the two roads join at an acute angle, and glancing along the lines of Boundary Street and the north lines of some buildings which have been erected in this angle we easily see the direction of the Bladensburg Road and discover that the small building 713 Florida Avenue northwest marks the spot where the Bladensburg Road deflected from Boundary Street and bore off in a northeasterly direction toward Bladensburg.
Once Part of Jamaica Vacancy.
The map referred to is said to be a portion of [the estate named] Jamaica and and Smith’s Vacancy, but if we examine the plats in the office of the Surveyor of the District we will hardly find on file any plats of those sections, but may learn that Le Droit Park was once part of Jamaica and Smith’s Vacancy and possibly a portion of [the estate named] Port Royal. Prior to the cession of the territory now included in the District from Maryland the land known as Jamaica was owned by one Philip R. Fendall, of Virginia. He conveyed this tract of 494 acres on the 12th day of January, 1792, to Samuel Blodgett, jr., of Massachusetts, and from this point the title of the land can be traced down to the present time.
The names attached to the different vacancies establish the names of the various owners of lands adjoining Bladensburg Road at the time it was abandoned as a thoroughfare and taken up as a portion of the farms in that section, and the presence of this old road accounts for some of the peculiar lines in some of the northern boundaries of some of the lots in Le Droit Park. This road crossed Second Street at a point north of Elm Street here. The old plats show Moore’s Vacancy. The road finally joined the present road to Bladensburg at a point where the sixth milestone of the norther line of the District was located.
It is probable that this peculiarly natural boundary of some of the lands which afterward became Le Droit Park may have had something to do with the strange lines which are found in the streets of that suburb, although it was not the intention at the time that Le Droit Park was subdivided to have the streets conform with the city streets.
Site of Campbell Hospital.
During the civil war the territory now contained in Le Droit Park was used as the site of Campbell General Hospital, one of the important hospitals near Washington. The hospital comprised some seventeen separate wooden buildings, erected in the form of a hollow square, with the central portion divided into irregular spaces by buildings cutting across the inclosure and connecting the outside buildings.
The larger dimension of this hospital was fro north to south, and extended from Boundary Street, now known as Florida Avenue, on the south, to the land occupied for many years as a baseball park, situated south of Freedman’s Hospital, and designated on some of the old maps as Levi Park. From east to west the hospital covered the ground from Seventh Street to what is now known as Fifth Street in Le Droit Park, and it is possible that a portion of the space between Fifth Street and Fourth Street was also included in the hospital inclosure.
At this time there were only two dwellings in the tract known afterward as Le Droit Park— the McClelland and Gilman homestands. Each included about ten acres of land used for grazing and garden purposes. The McClelland property and the Gilman property were divided by a row of large oak trees which were situated about fifty feet apart and continued from Florida Avenue, then Boundary Street, to the northern line of the park.
[See the following 1861 map, a map we extolled several months ago:
To the east of the Gilman tract was a narrow strip of land known as the Prather tract. East of this was Moore’s Lane, now Second Street, and still to the east was the tracts of the Moores, George and David, covering the territory as far east as the present location of Lincoln Avenue [now Lincoln Road], on which was located Harewood Hospital, another hospital of considerable note during the civil war.
T.R. Senior, who was commissary at Campbell Hospital, returned to the city some twelve years after the war closed and purchased a residence at the corner of Elm and Second Streets, where he now resides. Members of the family of David McClelland now occupy the old homestead on Second Street.
Following the close of the war it became necessary to provide for such of the freedmen as were in need of assistance. Campbell General Hospital was occupied by the freedmen until August 16, 1869, when the patients were transferred to the new Freedman’s Hospital, which has been erected in connection with Howard University.
The property upon which Freedman’s Hospital stands consisted of a tract of 150 acres and was purchased from John A. Smith. In April, 1867, Howardtown was laid out and soon after some 500 lots were sold, and at this time it seems that the idea was conveyed that streets would be opened to the south through the Miller tract. In April, 1870, the Howard University purchased the Miller tract, and laid out streets to connect the streets of Howardtown with the city streets, and a little later built four houses on the line of what is now known as Fourth Street and in 1872 subdivided the Miller tract, but for some reason the plat was not recorded.
In 1873 the Miller tract was sold by Howard University to A[ndrew] Langdon, and a short time afterward A[mzi] L[orenzo] Barber, formerly secretary of Howard University, became associated with Langdon and hs partner, and by arrangements with D[avid] McClelland, all of the three tracts known as the Miller tract, the McClelland tract, and the Gilman tract were united and subdivided, and in June, 1873, a subdivision known as Le Droit Park was placed on record in the surveyor’s office. A subsequent plat was filed some eighteen months later, in which the proprietors of the subdivision declared it to be their purpose and intention to retain and control the ownership of all the streets platted, and the right to inclose the whole or any portion of the tracts or tract included in the subdivision and to locate and control all entrances and gates to the same.
During the autumn of 1876 A. L. Barber & Co. commenced the erection of fences across the north line of Le Droit Park, and from this time until August, 1891, fences were maintained along the northern line of the park. From 1886 to 1891 frequent fence wars were in operation. The fence across what is now Fourth Street would be removed by one party, and the opposing party would secure an injunction and restore it. This mode of procedure was repeated at various times until in 1901 a compromise verdict was agreed upon by the two factions and the fence was removed, Fourth Street was improved north of the park, and the streets of the park passed into the control of the city after a period of some eighteen years of private ownership.
The organization of Le Droit Park, under the limitations of the plat filed in 1873, was a peculiar experiment, that of the founding of an independent suburb adjoining the city. the southern line of the park was inclosed with a handsome combination iron and wood fence, some of which may now be found on the southern line of the McClelland property. Buildings were erected with plenty of room around them, and during the period from 1873 to 1885 the larger part of the buildings were planned and erected by James H. McGill. Double houses were quite common, but it was not until 1888 that such a thing as a row of houses were known in the park.
Before control of the streets was surrendered to the city the conditions existing in the park resembled closely those found in small country towns. Many of the inhabitants owned cows, which were pastured upon the vacant lots; the women “went a-neighboring,” and the social life savored strongly of a village, and yet it was near the city. The express and telegraph messengers, however, always collected of residents an extra fee for the reason that they lived out of the city.
With the opening of the streets and the introduction of street cars the park soon lost its former characteristics and became part of the city with all of its advantages and disadvantages. The opening of Rhode Island Avenue [from Florida Avenue eastward] spoiled in a measure the former beauty of the McClelland and Gilman homesteads, although there is still much more ground remaining in both of these old tracts that many people would care to own. The opening of Fifth Street will, to some extent, divide the traffic which now finds a way through Fourth Street. Sixth Street ends at Spruce Street [now U Street], and further progress seems barred by the residence, 601 Spruce Street, and there seems no immediate chance of the extension of Third Street above its present limit [at V Street??], where progress is barred by a high fence decorated with the advertisement of a prominent firm.
Former Familiar Street Names.
The old names of the streets of the park, such as Harewood Avenue [now Third Street], Maple Avenue [now U Street], Moore’s Lane [later Le Droit Avenue, then Second Street], Linden Street [now Fourth Street], Larch Street [now Fifth Street], Juniper Street [now Sixth Street], and Bohrer Street [still extant], are nearly forgotten, and have passed away with the fence and its period. The names of the city streets have taken their places, and with the growth of the population the country life and country scenes have given way to those of the city.
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.
- Private secretary to the Secretary of the Interior; resident of 525 T Street NW. Halford, A. J. Official Congressional Directory. Washington: GPO, 1900.
- Civil War general; resident of 1901 Third Street NW. Read more at Wikipedia.
- 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.
- Architect of LeDroit Park.
- Wealthy coal distributor. Cutter, Library Journal. Vol. 17. New York: ALA, 1892.
- 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.