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Near Northeast in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Changing Faces of H Street

Hub, Home, Heart

 

—Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail —

 
The Changing Faces of H Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
1. The Changing Faces of H Street Marker
Inscription. The handsome church on this corner is the second to occupy this spot. The first was a small brick chapel built by John A. Douglas in 1878 for the new Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church. Soon after, it was renamed Douglas Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church to honor its builder and his wife Sidney, who donated the land. The current building replaced it in 1898 as the block filled with brick houses and stores.

Douglas Memorial served a white congregation. But beginning in the 1940s, its members moved away, and the parish dwindled. In 1958 the governing Baltimore Conference assigned a young African American pastor, Forrest C. Stith, to rebuild the congregation. By knocking on doors and reaching out to youth, Stith increased the church's membership from nearly zero to 200 in three years. On 11th Street between I and K, Holy Name Catholic Church experienced the same racial makover.

As these church histories show, well before "white flight" transformed American cities in the 1950s, the face of H Street was changing. Descendants of European immigrant families, thanks to public school education, moved into better-paying professions and newer neighborhoods. African Americans had become a majority in Greater H Street by 1950. In response the DC School Board switched the white Franklin Pierce Elementary on Maryland Avenue, and other
Reverend Forrest C. Stith image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
2. Reverend Forrest C. Stith
Reverend (later Bishop) Forrest C. Stith, and the first two children he christened at Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church, Valynncia Patrice Brown and Roscoe "Butch" Goudeau, 1958. At right, the church's stained-glass windows glow within the sanctuary, 2011.
neighborhood schools, to the "colored" division. The Supreme Court's 1954 desegregation of the nation's schools accelerated white flight to exclusive suburbs. For decades, in a very divided city, Greater H Street was almost entirely African American. As the 21st century opened, though, it followed the city's trend towards a more racially diverse population.

(Back):
Trains and streetcars created the Near Northeast neighborhood around H Street. The B&O Railroad's arrival in 1835 made this a center of energetic, working-class life. Workmen living north of the Capitol staffed the Government Printing Office, ran the trains, stocked the warehouses, and built Union Station. When a streetcar arrived linking H Street to downtown, new construction quickly followed.

H Street bustled with shops and offices run by Jewish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Irish, and African American families. During the segregation era, which lasted into the 1950s, African Americans came to H Street for its department stores and sit-down restaurants. Most businesses welcomed all customers.

Then came the civil disturbances in the wake of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in 1968. Decades of commercial decline followed. Just off H Street, though, the strong residential community endured. The 2005 opening of the Atlas Performing Arts Center signaled a revival, building
Summer Mission image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
3. Summer Mission
Teens of Youthworks, a summer mission hosted by Douglas Church, share a cookout with parishioners.
evocatively on H Street's past. Hub, Home, Heart is a bridge to carry you from that past to the present.

Hub, Home, Heart: Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 3.2-mile tour of 18 signs offers about two hours of gentle exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English or Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
 
Erected 2012 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 14.)
 
Location. 38° 54.018′ N, 76° 59.5′ W. Marker is in Near Northeast, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of H Street, NE and 11th Street, NE, on the right when traveling west on H Street, NE. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1033 H Street, NE, Washington DC 20002, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Enterprising Families (approx. 0.2 miles away); At the Crossroads (approx. 0.2 miles away); Culture and Commerce (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Fires of 1968 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Brickyards to Buildings (approx.
Changing Faces at the Local Schools image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
4. Changing Faces at the Local Schools
A May Day celebration, 1941, at Logan School, the first elementary school for African Americans in Greater H Street, above. Franklin Pierce School Class of 1931, when the school was part of the white division, as seen at right. Below, Stuart-Hobson Junior High School students of 1957, post-integration.
¼ mile away); Get Behind the Wheel (approx. 0.3 miles away); Mediterranean Imports (approx. 0.3 miles away); Education for All (approx. 0.3 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Near Northeast.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Greater H Street NE Heritage Trail
 
Categories. African AmericansChurches, Etc.Notable Places
 
Dixie Pawnbrokers image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
5. Dixie Pawnbrokers
Everyday businesses here in the 1940s: Tamara (left) and Charles (second from right) Chidakel at work in their Dixie Pawnbrokers, 1100 H Street.
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
6. Back of Marker
Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church, 1967 image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
7. Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church, 1967
Map of the H Street Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
8. Map of the H Street Heritage Trail
The Changing Faces of H Street Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
9. The Changing Faces of H Street Marker
Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church, Today image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, September 29, 2012
10. Douglas Memorial United Methodist Church, Today
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 275 times since then and 6 times this year. Last updated on , by A. Taylor of Laurel, Maryland. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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