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

River Farms to Urban Towers

St. Dominic Church: Community Anchor

 

—Southwest Heritage Trail —

 
River Farms to Urban Towers Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 17, 2017
1. River Farms to Urban Towers Marker
Front of marker
Inscription.
Front
Behind you stands St. Dominic Church, established 1852. It anchors the city's only Dominican parish and is its sixth oldest Catholic church. St. Dominic's survived two upheavals — a fire in 1885 and the threat of urban renewal in the 1950s (thanks to friends in Congress — to prevail as a spiritual and community center. Throughout the 1800s it ministered to farmers, slaves, free blacks, and Irish, German, and Italian immigrants as well as native-born government workers and members of Congress. Since urban renewal, it has served its newest neighbors. This Gothic style structure was dedicated in 1875.

The famous and the humble have sought spiritual comfort at St. Dominic's, from newly freed slaves during the Civil War to former Speaker of the House Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, Actress Helen Hayes, born and raised in Southwest, sang in the church choir. And Washington Senators star pitcher Walter Johnson headlined the church's annual parade in 1937.

Neighbors of all faiths have appreciated St. Dominic's. "The whole neighborhood would go to the carnival with its bright lights," recalled Larry Rosen who grew up on 4½ Street. The priests and nuns of St. Dominic's school taught hundreds of area children from 1852 until 1957, when the rectory, convent, and school were all demolished
River Farms to Urban Towers Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 17, 2017
2. River Farms to Urban Towers Marker
Back of marker
for the Southeast-Southwest Freeway. The 600 block of Seventh Street was designated for a new school, but because the new Southwest had fewer children, the parish asked to use the site for low-income housing. After years of litigation, developers instead completed Capital Square townhouses, sold at market rates in 2001.

Back
From 1800 until 1950, Southwest was Washington's largest working-class, waterfront neighborhood. Then beginning in 1954, nearly all of Southwest was razed to 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 the 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 of 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
River Farms to Urban Towers Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, October 17, 2017
3. River Farms to Urban Towers Marker
Marker from a few feet away
the way. To learn about other DC neighborhoods, visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.

 
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 6.)
 
Location. 38° 52.999′ N, 77° 1.295′ W. Marker is in Southwest, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of E Street SW and 7th Street SW on E Street SW. Touch for map. Marker is on the Northwest corner of 7th and E Streets SW. Marker is at or near this postal address: 400 7th Street SW, Washington DC 20024, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); In memory of the lives lost in the Oklahoma City Bombing... (about 600 feet away); Memorial Tree Planting (about 600 feet away); Equality in Public Education (about 800 feet away); Dr. Dorothy Height (approx. 0.2 miles away); Can you identify these famous Civil Rights leaders? (approx. 0.2 miles away); Banneker Circle: Vista to the Past (approx. ¼ mile away); Renewal and Loss (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Southwest.
 
Categories. Churches, Etc.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on October 19, 2017. This page originally submitted on October 17, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 68 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 17, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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