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

William Prout: Community Builder

Tour of Duty


—Barracks Row Heritage Trail —

William Prout: Community Builder Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, October 29, 2016
1. William Prout: Community Builder Marker
Most of the land that is now Capitol Hill – including portions of the Navy Yard – once belonged to William Prout, who lived in a large house on this block. In 1799 and 1801 he sold and traded land to the U.S. government for both the yard and the Marine Barracks.

Arriving in America from England in 1790, Prout heard rumors that President George Washington would be choosing this area for the new federal city. In 1791 Prout contracted for some 500 acres here from his future father-in-law, Jonathan Slater. Weeks later, Washington announced his selection, and Prout became one of 19 landowners contributing land to the new capital. Like the others, Prout kept some lots to sell, hoping to make a fortune in real estate.

Because the new city developed first to the west of the Capitol, and not in this direction, Prout never did make his fortune in land sales. But unlike many early investors, he did well, setting up a fishery, selling dry goods and bricks, and renting lots. Prout seeded a community, working with partners to build the first Eastern Market (1805) near here at Sixth and L streets, donating land for Christ Church, and serving on the City Council.

Some of the buildings here are from Prout’s time. The unusually tall four-story building behind you at 1003 Eighth Street was built before 1824, as was
William Prout: Community Builder Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, October 29, 2016
2. William Prout: Community Builder Marker
the two-story, dormered restaurant across the street at 1102. In 1833 the buildings with small attic-level windows were built as dwelling/shops serving the Navy Yard. The others, reflecting Victorian and 20th-century commercial styles, replaced earlier structures.

This 1966 photo shows the businesses across Eighth Street before two new stories and turrets were grafted onto the older one-story storefronts. William Prout once owned all of this land.

The Navy Yard’s gate has changed greatly since Benjamin H. Latrobe first designed the portion topped by the eagle as seen in this 1889 plan.

The brick floor of the first Eastern Market, built near here by Prout and others, was uncovered by archaeologists in 2000 before the construction of new Marine housing began.

Advertisement, 1800, for land and other goods offered by William Prout.

On the map showing the owners of the land that became the nation’s capital, above, is William Prout’s property. Prout’s “mansion house” is marked “a” on this 1796 map, right.

William Prout’s tomb rests in nearby Congressional Cemetery amid the graves of hundreds of notable Americans.

When celebrated composer John Philip Sousa walked these streets, people called this Capitol Hill neighborhood “Navy Yard.” While the Navy Yard
William Prout: Community Builder Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, October 29, 2016
3. William Prout: Community Builder Marker
In this view the marker can be seen towards the south along Eighth Street.
is no longer the area’s major employer, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps still anchor this pleasant residential community and its vibrant commercial center on Eighth Street, SE, now known as Barracks Row. The 16 signs that mark this walking trail describe temporary sojourners as well as families who have lived here for many generations. From Michael Shiner an African American laborer working at the Navy Yard, to John Dahlgren, a weapons pioneer and confidant of President Abraham Lincoln, their experiences have given the community its distinctive character. Follow this trail to the places that tell these stories and much, much more.

Tour of Duty: Barracks Row Heritage Trail, a booklet of the trail’s highlights, is available at businesses along the way. Visit to learn about other DC neighborhoods.

List of contributors and sponsors to the Barracks Row Heritage Trail.

Caption: The tall building at 1003 Eighth St. and its shorter neighbor at 1005 (with the PHILCO sign), as seen in this 1949 photograph, are two of a number of pre-Civil War structures remaining here.
The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 8 of 16.)
Location. 38° 52.663′ N, 76° 59.704′ W. Marker is in Navy Yard, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Eighth Street, SE and L Street, SE, on the right when traveling south on Eighth Street, SE. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1005 Eighth Street, SE, Washington DC 20003, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Washington Navy Yard: Serving the Fleet (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Washington Navy Yard: Maker of Weapons (about 400 feet away); Strike Up the Band (about 500 feet away); Latrobe Gate - Tingey House (about 700 feet away); The Washington Navy Yard (about 700 feet away); Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. (about 700 feet away); Leutze Park Gun Collection (about 800 feet away); Second Officer's House (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Navy Yard.
Categories. Industry & CommerceMan-Made FeaturesSettlements & Settlers
Credits. This page was last revised on January 24, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 2, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 150 times since then and 30 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on December 2, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.
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