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

On the Path

Midcity at the Crossroads


—Shaw Heritage Trail —

On the Path Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, July 14, 2018
1. On the Path Marker
Inscription.  The wooden chapel here was completed in 1857 as a mission of the McKendree Methodist Church. Known as Fletcher Chapel, it may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Washington's Anti-Saloon League began meeting at Fletcher Chapel in 1893 and later merged into the National Anti-Saloon League. The League helped persuade Congress to pass the 18th Amendment prohibiting alcohol sales and consumption in 1920. Two years later, though, Congress imposed Prohibition on Washington as a test case. Local and national Prohibition ended with the 18th Amendment repeal in 1933.

In 1905 Fletcher Chapel was purchased by First Tabernacle Church of God and Saints of Christ.

Across this intersection is Bible Way Temple. Founder Rev. Smallwood E. Williams began his preaching career outdoors on Seventh Street. At the time of his death in 1991, Williams led the more than 300 churches of Bible Way Church World Wide. Active in civil rights and city politics, Williams saved his church from demolition for highway construction in 1963. Today Interstate 395 bends around its site.

Just up Fourth Street at the corner of N
On the Path Marker reverse image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, July 14, 2018
2. On the Path Marker reverse
is the site of the first pharmacy opened by Roscoe Pinkett. The family's business went on to include John R. Pinkett, Inc., a real estate and insurance company based in Shaw from 1932 until 1992.

As you walk to sign 16, notice the Yale Steam Laundry at 437-443 New York Avenue. Designed in 1902 to blend in with its residential neighbors, its state-of-the-art machinery washed, dried, and ironed uniforms, tablecloths, and linens collected at Yale's many DC storefronts.

This neighborhood has always been "a place between places," where races and classes bumped and mingled as they got a foothold on the city. It has attracted the powerful seeking city conveniences as well as immigrants and migrants just starting out. By 1900 the Shaw neighborhood lay just north of the downtown federal offices and white businesses, and south of the African-American-dominated U Street commercial corridor and Howard University.

Longstanding local businesses took root here, and leaders flourished: Carter G. Woodson, Langston Hughes, John Wesley Powell, B. F. Saul, and A. Philip Randolph. The nation’s finest “colored” schools were here too. By the 1930s the area was known as Midcity or Shaw (for Shaw Junior High School).

Over time the shops of Seventh and Ninth streets became a bargain-rate alternative to downtown’s fancy department stores.
On the Path Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, July 14, 2018
3. On the Path Marker
There were juke joints, Irish saloons, storefront evangelists, delicatessens, and dozens of schools and houses of worship. As the city expanded, Shaw’s older housing became more affordable but crowded. In 1966 planners worked with local church leaders to create the Shaw School Urban Renewal District and improve conditions. Then in 1968, destructive riots followed the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Years later the community has succeeded in creating the mix of new and old that you’ll experience along Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trail.

Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trail, a booklet capturing highlights of the 17 trail markers, is available in English and Spanish at local businesses along the way. To learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit

A postcard advertising Pinkett's Pharmacy, 1950s
Collection of Lori Dodson
Erected 2006 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 15.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Shaw Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 54.303′ N, 77° 0.972′ W. Marker is in Mount Vernon Square, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 4th Street Northwest
On the Path Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Jones, July 14, 2018
4. On the Path Marker
and New York Avenue Northwest (U.S. 50), on the right when traveling south on 4th Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1140 4th Street Northwest, Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. History in a House (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); To Market, To Market (approx. 0.2 miles away); The John T. Williams Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); “Sweet Daddy” Grace (approx. ¼ mile away); The Place to Shop (approx. 0.3 miles away); Reaching for Equality (approx. 0.3 miles away); Roots of Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral (approx. 0.3 miles away); Remembering "the Village" (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mount Vernon Square.
Categories. Abolition & Underground RRArchitectureChurches & ReligionIndustry & Commerce
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Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2019. This page originally submitted on July 14, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 54 times since then and 14 times this year. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 14, 2018, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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