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Southwest in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Blending Old and New
River Farms to Urban Towers

Southwest Heritage Trail
 
Blending Old and New Marker (Front) Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, April 10, 2010
1. Blending Old and New Marker (Front)
 
Inscription. When urban renewal threatened to destroy three of Washington's oldest structures, dating from the late 1700's, history-minded citizens organized to stop the bulldozers. As a result, when architect Chloethiel Woodard Smith designed the mid-20th century Harbour Square, she included Wheat Row, Duncanson-Cranch House, and Edward Simon Lewis House, as you can see to your left.

The elegant 1794-1795 set of four Federal style houses behind you across Fourth Street is Wheat Row, created by James Greenleaf, Washington's first real estate speculator. Greenleaf and his partners hoped to get rich building housing for the new city. Instead Greanleaf went bankrupt, but left behind a few well-made houses. These were named for John Wheat, an early owner who worked as a Senate messenger. Across Fourth to your left at 456 N Street is Lewis House, built in 1817 for a Navy Department clerk. A few houses down at 468-470 is Duncanson-Cranch House, built around 1794.

In 1901 Charles Weller opened Neighborhood House in Lewis House as Washington's first social settlement. There, in keeping with Washington's segregation, he provided education and recreation for poor white children and adults, including the city's first organized playground. Its first branch library was open to all, however. In 1904 Washington artist and socialite Alice Pike Barney
 
Blending Old and New Marker (Back) Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, April 10, 2010
2. Blending Old and New Marker (Back)
On the lower right is a map of this heritage trail.
 
bought Duncanson-Cranch House so that Neighborhood House could move into the larger space. The institution was re-named Barney Neighborhood House. It continued to grow, desegregating in the 1940s and also occupying three of Wheat Row's four houses before relocating to 16th Street, NW in 1960. Weller also helped begin the "Colored Social Center" in 1903 at 118 M Street, forerunner of today's Southwest Community House.

(Upper Right Photo Caption):
The Lewis House, far left, at 456 N Street, was Barney Neighborhood House's first home, until moved to Duncanson-Cranch House at 468-470, left. After urban renewal, both houses became part of Harbour Square along with Wheat Row, 1315-1321 Fourth Street, above.

(Center Right Photo Caption):
Artist Garnet Jex photographed the Duncanson-Cranch House in 1963 as construction was underway for Harbour Square cooperatives.

(Lower Right Photo Captions):
Barney Neighborhood House brochure of 1908, above. Adult classes included vegetable carving, 1942.

(Lower Left Photo Caption):
Beloved World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle, center, once lived in a Lewis House apartment.

(Back of Marker):
From 1800 until 1950, Southwest was Washington's largest working-class, waterfront neighborhood. The beginning in 1954, nearly all of Southwest was razed to
 
Blending Old and New Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, April 10, 2010
3. Blending Old and New Marker
 
create an entirely new city in the nation's first experiment in urban renewal. The 17 signs of River Farms to Urban Towers: Southwest Heritage Trail lead you through the Modernist buildings erected in the 1960s while marking the sites and stories - and the few remaining structures - of the neighborhood that was. Follow this trail to discover the area's first colonial settlers and the waves of immigrants drawn to jobs on the waterfront or in nearby federal government offices. Here Chesapeake Bay watermen sold oysters and fish off their boats. The once-gritty streets were childhood homes to singer Marvin Gaye and movie star Al Jolson. Later residents included Senator Hubert H. Humphrey and other legislators.

River Farms to Urban Towers: Southwest Heritage Trail, a booklet capturing the trail's highlights, is available at local businesses along the way. To learn about other DC neighborhoods, visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.

(Back Photo Caption):
Neighbors line Forth Street for a May Day celebration mounted by Barney Neighborhood House, around 1940. At left is the Marine Band. At center is the "May Day Procession of Clubs" led by Boy Scouts with the May Day Queen and attendants close behind.
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 17 of 17.)
 
Location.
 
Wheat Row Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, April 10, 2010
4. Wheat Row
 
38° 52.487′ N, 77° 1.047′ W. Marker is in Southwest, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 4th Street SW and N Street SW, on the right when traveling north on 4th Street SW. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20024, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Harbour Square (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Linking the "Island" to the City (about 600 feet away); The Law House In Peace and War (approx. 0.2 miles away); Military Education at Fort McNair (approx. 0.2 miles away); Housing Reform and the Syphax School (approx. 0.2 miles away); Titanic Memorial (approx. 0.2 miles away); All Aboard! (approx. 0.3 miles away); Escape from Slavery (approx. 0.4 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Southwest.
 
Also see . . .  River Farms to Urban Towers Trail. Page from the Cultural Tourism DC website. (Submitted on July 3, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Lewis House Photo, Click for full size
By Craig Swain, April 10, 2010
5. Lewis House
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on July 3, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 709 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on July 3, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
 
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