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

Early African American Georgetown

Early African American Georgetown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 2, 2018
1. Early African American Georgetown Marker

Georgetown's first African Americans were brought as slaves to labor for the tobacco industry and for domestic service in the houses of wealthy tobacco merchants. Others came as freed men and women before and after the Civil War. Over time, in the face of laws and customs restricting right of African Americans, a self-reliant community formed that was centered on the church. Mount Zion United Methodist Church, at 1334 29th, is the oldest of the four African American churches remaining in Georgetown. Founded in 1816, it was a school, neighborhood meeting place and a stop on the Underground Railroad.

Land for Mount Zion was purchased from Alfred Pope, a prominent member of Georgetown's new African American leadership, who represented Georgetown in Congress in 1870. Originally a slave, Pope owned a wood and coal yard on 29th Street as well as real estate. By the 1920s, other African American businesses included an ice house on P Street, cobbler and tailor shops on O Street, the Districts largest feed store, and three pharmacies. The three black doctors made house calls even when signs put out warned of scarlet fever, diphtheria or smallpox. On a smaller scale, stands offered lemonade, grapes from backyard vines and local figs.

Rose Park, at 26th and O Streets, included an interracial playground, but when in
Early African American Georgetown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 2, 2018
2. Early African American Georgetown Marker
1945 the DC Recreation Department tried to impose new rules restricting the park's use to African Americans, residents of both races defeated the attempt. Nationally ranked tennis players Margaret and Roumania Peters, known as Pete and Repeat, honed their skills at Rose Park. They went on to play at Tuskegee University, and won 14 national doubles championships. Occasionally the sisters played here with their friends, movie star Gene Kelly, who in the 1940s, rented a house nearby.

Restoration of Georgetown's Call Boxes
Georgetown's Call Box restoration project is part of a city-wide effort to rescue the District's abandoned fire and police call boxes. Known as Art on Call, the project has identified more than 800 boxes for restoration. Neighborhood by neighborhood, they are being put to new use as permanent displays of local art, history and culture. The Georgetown project highlights the anecdotal history of Georgetown and its unique heritage as a thriving colonial port town that predated the District of Columbia.

Fire alarm boxes such as this one (originally painted red) were installed in the District after the Civil War. In most boxes, the alarm was activated by opening a door on the front of the box and pulling a lever. An automatic telegraph system transmitted the box number to a central office that directed
Early African American Georgetown Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 2, 2018
3. Early African American Georgetown Marker
the closest fire station to dispatch a fire truck to the vicinity of the call box. After almost 100 years, the system began to decline in the 1960s with the advent of two-way car radios and walkie-talkies. The alarms were finally turned off in the 1970s and replaced with today's 911 emergency system.

Art on Call is a program of Cultural Tourism DC with support from
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, DC Creates Public Art Program
District Department of Transportation
Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

Citizens Association of Georgetown
The Charles Churchill Read Family

Erected by Cultural Tourism DC.
Location. 38° 54.414′ N, 77° 3.494′ W. Marker is in Georgetown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of N Street NW and 29th Street NW, on the right when traveling north on N Street NW. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2903 N Street NW, Washington DC 20007, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Stately Houses and Gardens (within shouting distance of this marker); The Colonial (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Suter Home (about 300 feet away); Mount Zion United Methodist Church and Heritage Center, and the Female Union Band Cemetery (about 400 feet away); John Laird (about 400 feet away); Mt. Zion United Methodist Church Parsonage (about 600 feet away); Epiphany Catholic Church (about 600 feet away); Ross and Getty House (about 600 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Georgetown.
Categories. African AmericansChurches & ReligionIndustry & CommerceSports
Credits. This page was last revised on February 11, 2018. This page originally submitted on February 2, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 70 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 2, 2018, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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