African American History and Georgetown: Contradictions, Cruelty and Reconcilitation

Last night at the ANC meeting, the often hidden, yet deep, relationship between African Americans and Georgetown was on display. The reason for this sadly infrequent foray was the decision to publicly recognize three notable Georgetown residents from the past.

As previewed yesterday by GM, the ANC took up the history of Yarrow Mamout. The discussion was one of unusual reverence for an ANC meeting. Chairman Ron Lewis pinned a copy of the famous Charles Wilson Peale portrait of Mamout to the wall, and recited Mamout’s stunning life story. As the book, From Slave Ship to Harvard, by Jim Johnson, depicted, Mamout came to America in chains, was brought to Georgetown, where he lived in bondage until he was 60. He became a master brick worker, and as mentioned last night, homes throughout Georgetown may contain his bricks.

When Charles Wilson Peale came to Georgetown to paint prominent residents, Mamout-then a freedman-was one chosen. As emphasized last night by Jim Johnson himself, there were approximately 9.2 million people stolen from Africa: Mamout is one of only two that we have a portrait of. That’s how special he is.

And the tie of Mamout to Georgetown is even deeper than the history told so far indicates. Mamout was owned by the Beall family. The Beall family was one of Georgetown’s founding families. And monuments to their wealth and influence dot Georgetown, whether it’s the Beall-Washington house, or the plaque at St. John’s to Ninian Beall. You cannot miss their place in Georgetown’s history.

Yet one of the men they owned, and whose labor they exploited to enrich themselves, has, for now, nothing but an empty lot and hope that the ground he once called home still contains his artifacts, if not his bones. It would be hypocritical and delusional to fret over that Beall-Washington house, as Georgetown currently is, and ignore the life of a remarkable man owned for decades by that same Beall family. And to the community’s credit (perhaps inspired by a Colbert King column) it is taking the matter seriously. The ANC passed a resolution asking the city to take steps necessary to preserve the status quo of the property. At the very least, the property needs to be fully excavated. Continue reading

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The Morning Metropolitan

Photo by Ehpien.

Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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The Georgetown Metropolis

C&O Canal

C&O Canal

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ANC Preview: Yarrow Mamout

Tonight is the March ANC meeting. Among other items for consideration is the property once owed by Yarrow Mamout.

Mamout is one of the great people to live in Georgetown. His story was documented in the 2012 book: From Slave Ship to Harvard, and was summarized by the Post:

Quite a bit is known about Mamout. He was born in Guinea in 1736. At age 16 he was sold into slavery and brought to the American colonies. He could read and write in Arabic, evidence that historians believe proves that he came from a wealthy Muslim family. Upon arrival in Annapolis, Mamout was sold to the Beall family, whose patriarch founded Georgetown in the late 1690s.

And after more than 40 years in slavery, Mamout gained his freedom. He was 60.

Mamout used his brick-making skills to earn money, and four years after he was freed he had saved enough to purchase a lot on what is now known as Dent Place.

The house he occupied was destroyed in the middle of the 19th century. A wood frame house was built in its place, but after years of abject negligence, it was condemn and razed a few years ago.

While Mamout’s house is no more, there is a widely held belief that many artifacts relating to him-if not his body itself-are buried at the site. And that is the topic the ANC will address tonight: What efforts can and should be pursued to research this historically fertile lot? Come tonight to find out.

Other topics for tonight include a new building proposed for the Dominoes lot on Prospect, the future of the Jackson Art Center, and the cat cafe!

Here’s the full agenda:

ANC 2E Public Meeting
Monday, March 2, 2014
at 6:30 p.m.

We will be meeting this month at the Georgetown Visitation School, 35th and
Volta Place, first building on left by gatehouse, in the Heritage Room on the 2nd floor.

Approval of the Agenda

·     Approval of March 2, 2015, ANC 2E Public Meeting Agenda


·     Approval of January 2, 2015 and February 2, 2015 Meeting Minutes
·     Public Safety and Police Report
·     Financial Report
·     Transportation Report
·     DPW Report

Community Comment

New Business

·     3324 Dent Place, NW – historic significance of the property and a possible archeological survey
·     Jackson Art Center building, 3050 R Street, NW – future use of the building
·     Proposed decrease in bus service by WMATA on the D-1 and D-2 routes

ABC Matters

·     Bulldog Tavern, 3700 O Street, NW (on the GU Campus), ABRA-096001, application for a substantial change to its license to allow live music performance, trivia, karaoke, poetry readings, comedy and vocal performances Sunday through Saturday 8 pm – 12:30 am.

Zoning Matters

1.     Crumbs & Whiskers, 3210 O St., NW, BZA No. 18954- exception to comply with animal boarding requirements for a cat adoption facility and café

2.     3220 Prospect Street, NW, BZA No.18977- variance relief from loading requirements

Old Georgetown Board


1.  SMD 01, 1801 35th Street, NW, OG 15-128 (HPA 15-231), Fillmore School (Corcoran Art Center), Alterations to school and new townhouse construction, Concept – Preliminary/General

2.  SMD 03, 3255-3259 Prospect Street, NW, OG 15-120 (HPA 15-223), Mixed use (currently Domino’s Pizza), New construction, Concept


1. SMD 02, 1544 33rd Street, NW, OG 15-057 (HPA 15-085), Residence, One-story rear addition, Concept
(For review by the Historic Preservation Review Board)

2. SMD 03, 3210 O Street, NW, OG 15-114 (HPA 15-207), Commercial, Signs and blade sign – Vaporfi, Permit

3. SMD 03, 3252 O Street, NW, OG 15-095 (HPA 15-183), Residence, Two-story rear   addition, Concept

4. SMD 03, 3301 N Street, NW, OG 15-121 (HPA 15-224), Residence, Second story and underground additions, alterations, Concept.
5. SMD 03, 1513 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 14-321 (HPA 14-602), Commercial, Rooftop and 3-story rear addition, Concept – revised
6. SMD 05, 1061 31st Street, NW, OG 15-110 (HPA 15-211), Commercial, Awning and signs – Canal Inn – Existing, Permit

7. SMD 05, 3205 K Street, NW, OG 15-109 (HPA 15-209), Commercial, Projecting sign – Mr. Smith’s, Permit

8. SMD 05, 3251 Prospect Street, NW, OG 15-080 (HPA 15-124), Mixed-use: commercial/residential, New doors, relocation of HVAC equipment to roof, Permit

9. SMD 05, 1218 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 15-020 (HPA 15-033), Commercial,
Alterations to rear fence for incinerator, Permit

10. SMD 05,1225 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, OG 15-112 (HPA 15-215), Commercial, Replacement front windows, repointing rear and sides, Permit

11. SMD 06, 1236 28th Street, NW, OG 15-111 (HPA 15-212), Residence, Alterations to rear, replacement windows, deck, Concept

12. SMD 06, 3044 N Street, NW, OG 15-108 (HPA 15-200), Residence, Railings / planters at roof terrace above garage – Existing.

13. SMD 07, 1624 29th Street, NW, OG 15-122 (HPA 15-225, Residence, New open garage with roof terrace, Concept Continue reading

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The Morning Metropolitan

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Good morning Georgetown, here’s the latest:

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3200 block of Q St.

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When Pot Came to DC it Came to Georgetown First

In honor of the legalization of marijuana in DC, GM is turning back to a curious period of Georgetown history: when a group of beatniks brought the first pot party to DC. The article, from 2009, it reprinted below:

Bohemian Landmark?

Think Georgetown in the 1950’s and 60’s and most people think of JFK and socialite doyennes.  Almost totally forgotten from those days in Georgetown is a coffeehouse and a community of beatniks and free-spirits once located in a small courtyard off 31st st. Nowadays it’s the office complex called Hamilton Court at 1232 31st. St. Find out the wine-soaked pot-scented history of this perfectly ordinary looking office complex after the jump:

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