The G. Morris Steinbraker and Sons Co. was started by Georgetown-native century to provide construction services. The first generation Steinbraker, G. Morris, built a workshop for his company on Grace St. in 1944. Ever since, his son and his grandson have used the shop for the family-business (the Georgetowner has a nice piece on the family here):
Map from Library of Congress, courtesy of Ghosts of DC.
The fantastic Ghosts of DC blog found a great map from the Library of Congress archives. It shows the property values of each block in DC in 1879. Slate blogger Matt Yglesias noticed and pointed out that it shows a time when Logan and Shaw were more expensive than Georgetown.
Actually, the blocks around Logan and the Shaw blocks to the east don’t appear to have that much more of an concentration of darker blocks than Georgetown. But it is true that this map likely captures the moment when Georgetown slowly started to slip behind the rest of the city in terms of economic status.
This is a point GM has discussed many times before. Starting in the late 19th century Georgetown became somewhat of an Irish and African-American slum (although sometimes this is a bit overstated). It’s reputation grew as a rougher part of town through the early 20th century. In the 1930s, Georgetown became one of the first “gentrified” neighborhoods in DC when New Dealers swooped in and bought up the old houses. The rest is history. Continue reading
Photo by Biberfan.
Restaurant-scene “power player” Don Rockwell recently took on that nebulous section of Wisconsin Ave often referred to as north Georgetown. (Actually it wasn’t that recently. It was back in November, but it was recently tweeted).
Rockwell walks the reader through the stretch:
We have to define what, exactly, “North Georgetown” is.
It can be loosely defined as the area between Glover Park and Georgetown, but what does that mean?
The easiest way to “understand” the notion of North Georgetown is to begin at the southern edge of Glover Park, near the Holiday Inn. There is a natural geographical division here, bisecting Wisconsin Avenue with parkland: the Dumbarton Oaks / Naval Observatory area is on the east, and the Whitehaven / Holy Rood Cemetery area is on the west. There is very much of a “gap” here in terms of Wisconsin Avenue development, and this is where “North Georgetown” begins.
He then walks down through the restaurants giving brief mentions to each. Bistrot Lepic and Cafe Divan stand out for praise. GM thinks Rockwell is a little hard on Los Cuates, which is a perfectly good neighborhood Mexican restaurant. Continue reading
GM recently took part in a focus group being run by the BID designed to find out what Georgetowners like or dislike about the neighborhood and what could be done to improve it. At the beginning of the session, the participants introduced themselves and stated, among other things, what their first memory of Georgetown was. It was an interesting way to kick off a discussion of what people think of the neighborhood.
While GM moved to Georgetown ten years ago, his first memory is much older than that. In the mid 80s, his family came down to DC from Connecticut for something or another (it was either part of a visiting fife and drum corps or the time GM’s brother won the Sea Breeze Award for “teenager of the year” and got to meet Nancy Reagan and Ms. America). Either way, GM remembers bunking up with his family in one room at the Hotel Harrington.
The Georgetown memory is of waiting forever to get a table at the legendary Geppetto’s Pizza, which once occupied the space currently housing Unum. Growing up the in northeast, GM had never experienced pizza that thick. Through the compound interest of memory, that pizza is still the best pizza GM ever ate. Continue reading
GM wrote last week about the curious connection between Abraham Lincoln and 3226 N St. Well, GM wanted to share a bit more about the seances that Lincoln took part in there:
…lt Was at this seance that Mrs. Belle Miller gave an example of her power as a “moving medium,” and highly amused and interested us by causing the piano to “Waltz around the room,” as was facetiously remarked in several recent newspaper articles. The true statement is as follows: Mrs. Miller played upon the piano (a three-corner grand), and under her influence it “rose and fell,” keeping time to her touch in a perfectly regular manner. Mr. Laurie suggested that, as an added ”test” of the invisible power that moved the piano, Mrs. Miller (his daughter) should place her hand on the instrument, standing at arm’s length from it, to show that she Was in no Wise connected with its movement other than as agent. Mr. Lincoln then placed his hand underneath the piano, at the end nearest Mrs. Miller, Who placed her left hand upon his to demonstrate that neither strength nor pressure Was used. In this position the piano rose and fell a number of times at her bidding. At Mr. Laurie’s desire the President changed his position to another side, meeting With the same result. Continue reading
Next Monday is Presidents Day. And for the occassion, GM would like to discuss one of the weirder (and sadder) stories of Abraham Lincoln, one that ties him to Georgetown.
While he had already nurtured a growing interest in the then trendy spiritualist movement, Lincoln grew more convinced of the veracity of spiritualism following the death of his son Willie in 1862. (To be fair, accounts of his spiritualism vary. Some historians believe his participation was merely intended to humor his wife.) Continue reading
GM was recently browsing the website the GSA created in anticipation of the auction of the monumental West Heating Plant in Georgetown when he came across some fascinating historical photos on the site.
They even have what would now be described as “construction cam” photos. GM gif’d them:
It’s too bad that small building just north of the West Heating Plant was torn down at some point.
There’s more great stuff. Like here’s a photo of the empty lot before construction began: Continue reading
A couple weeks ago, GM reported on the archaeological finds in his garden. While some prep work was being done for a new tree, some pottery shards, oysters, and coal turned up. Well, last week when the tree itself was planted, another cool piece of history popped up.
You can see above that it’s the bottom of a glass bottle. In this case, the bottle bears the familiar name of Heinz’s. Specifically it says: “7/Heinz’s/Pat Jany/13 1882″. Continue reading
Over the weekend, GM having some work done in his small garden. Specifically, one corner of the garden was being prepped for the planting of a new tree. To accomplish this, the soil needed to be cleared of several feet of sand and clay that sat just below the topsoil. In doing so, several interesting artifacts were found.
The most interesting find was this chard of china. It appears to be from a small plate. The makers mark is from a company called the International Pottery Company of Trenton, New Jersey (“Trenton makes, the world takes!”). According to this site, this particular mark (with the name Burgess and Campbell appearing on the bottom) started being used sometime around 1879. Continue reading
Courtesy of The Beer Can Guide.
Whenever you hear the phrase “Old Georgetown”, it’s often followed by the word board. But in the middle part of the last century, the phrase was used to describe a much more enjoyable item: beer.
The shores of the Potomac just south of Georgetown once housed DC’s greatest brewery: the Christian Heurich Brewery. Started by its namesake, a German who immigrated here in 1866, it was built in 1894. Huerich ran the brewery both before and after Prohibition, gaining a reputation as the best beer in town. He passed away on the job at the age of 102 in 1942.
The brewery produced a series of different beers, mostly under the Senate Beer logo. But in 1950, the brewery introduced the new Old Georgetown label. It wasn’t until later in the year that Congress passed the Old Georgetown Act, which established the strong historical protections for the neighborhood’s architecture. Both were probably inspired in anticipation of the 1951 centennial of the neighborhood (the “Old Georgetown” signs at M and Pennsylvania that you see in GM’s header were also erected around then). Continue reading