“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Columbia Heights in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Girard Street Elites

Cultural Convergence


—Columbia Heights Heritage Trail —

Girard Street Elites Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, September 8, 2016
1. Girard Street Elites Marker
Inscription.  The 1100 and 1200 blocks of Girard Street once were home to a “Who’s Who” of African American leaders.

This and nearby “double-blocks” are the heart of John Sherman’s Columbia Heights subdivision. By placing all houses 30 feet from the street’s center, Sherman created a gracious and inviting streetscape. The elegant rowhouses, built mostly between 1894 and 1912, echoed the social and economic class of their first, white residents.

By the 1920s black families began arriving from neighborhoods to the east and south. Many had ties to nearby Howard University. Dr. Montague Cobb of 1221 Girard, a foremost physical anthropologist, headed the Howard Medical School’s Anatomy Department and helped lead the NAACP. His colleague, Dr. Roland Scott of 1114 Girard, chaired Pediatrics and led the fight against sickle cell disease. Dorothy Porter Wesley, of 1201 Girard, developed the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, the eminent library of the African Diaspora. Educator Paul Phillips Cooke, who led the American Veterans Committee and became President of D.C. Teachers College, moved to 1203 Girard as a boy in 1928 and
Girard Street Elites Marker reverse image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, September 8, 2016
2. Girard Street Elites Marker reverse
remained until 2006.

Across Girard Street is Carlos Rosario Public Charter School, originally the white Wilson Normal School (teachers college) and later part of the University of the District of Columbia. As you walk to Sign 9, you’ll pass Fairmont Street, where jazz pianist, composer, and educator Billy Taylor grew up at 1207. Music teacher Henry Grant, mentor to both Taylor and Duke Ellington, once lived at 1114. Home rule activist Rev. Channing Phillips lived at 1232 Fairmont before becoming, in 1968, the first African American nominated for U.S. president at a major party convention.

Hilda (Mrs. Montague) Cobb, top row, right, poses with the Mignonettes social club at her Girard St. home, 1952

Dr. W. Montague Cobb, second from left, and the St. George’s String Quartet, 1939.

Educator Dr. Paul Phillips Cooke in his D.C. Teachers College office and posing in front of his home as a Garnet-Patterson Junior High School graduate, below.

Jazz musician Billy Taylor, above, grew up at 1207 Fairmont St. Young Billy, top right, posed with brother Rudy, bottom right, and cousins around 1930.

Rev. Channing Phillips, candidate for U.S. president, 1968.

Dunbar High School music teacher Henry Grant, at right with the All High Schools Orchestra in 1936, influenced Duke Ellington and Billy Taylor.

Dr. Roland
Girard Street Elites Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, September 8, 2016
3. Girard Street Elites Marker
This view of the marker is to the east along Girard Street, with 11th Street behind the photographer.
Scott, right, and Dorothy Porter Wesley and student, below.

Marker reverse:
More than 200 years ago, city planner Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed a new capital city on the low coastal plain at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, bordered on the north by a steep hill. Today the hill defines Columbia Heights.

Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail takes you on a tour of the lively neighborhood that began as a remote suburb of Washington City. Over time, transportation innovations, starting with streetcars, made Columbia Heights accessible and desirable. Soon, men and women of every background populated the neighborhood, people who changed the world with new technology, revolutionary ideas, literature, laws, and leadership. From the low point of the civil disturbances of 1968, Columbia Heights turned to resident leaders and rose again. Metrorail’s arrival in 1999 provided a boost, reviving the historically important 14th Street commercial corridor. Experience both the new and old Columbia Heights, with all its cultural and economic diversity, as you talk this walk.

A Description of the Cultural Convergence: Columbia Heights Heritage Trail tour and acknowledgment of its creators follows.

Caption: The Wilson Normal 1924 graduating class in front of the school (Rosario Public Charter School since 2004).
The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 8.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 55.55′ N, 77° 1.613′ W. Marker is in Columbia Heights, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Girard Street Northwest and 11th Street Northwest, on the right when traveling west on Girard Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20009, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Treat Me Refined" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Urban Oasis (approx. 0.2 miles away); Justice vs. Injustice (approx. 0.2 miles away); Merriweather Home for Children (was approx. 0.2 miles away but has been reported missing. ); Along the "Nile Valley" (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named Along the "Nile Valley" (approx. 0.2 miles away); Beyond the Basics (approx. ¼ mile away); Francis L. Cardozo High School (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Columbia Heights.
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEducationPolitics
More. Search the internet for Girard Street Elites.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 14, 2019. This page originally submitted on September 13, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 194 times since then and 16 times this year. Last updated on March 7, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 13, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.
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