Capitol Hill in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Strike Up the Band
Tour of Duty
—Barracks Row Heritage Trail —
John Philip Sousa, the neighborhood’s most famous son, spent 19 years here. In 1868 Sousa’s Marine Bandsman father persuaded the 13-year- old to apprentice to the Marine Band instead of running away to join a circus band. Twelve years later Sousa was named leader of the Marine Band and was on his way to becoming the “March King,” composer of dozens of stirring marches that remain popular worldwide. During his director-ship (1880-1892), Sousa wrote Washington Post March and Semper Fidelis, among many others, and the band began the extraordinarily popular concert tours that continue to this day. The band’s renown spread even farther after it made one of the earliest phonograph recordings (1889) and helped pioneer live broadcast radio in the early 1920s. In 1931 the NBC radio network began a record-setting 29 years of broadcasting the Marine Band in “The Dream Hour.”
The Marine Band was established by an Act of Congress in 1798 and has played for every president beginning with John Adams. Thomas Jefferson dubbed it “The President’s Own.” During Jefferson’s tenure, the band recruited musicians from Italy, some of whom
The Marine Band, still stationed at the Barracks, remains the official White House musical ensemble. In 2002 its 140-plus members performed 800 times throughout the nation.
When celebrated composer John Philip Sousa walked these streets, people called this Capitol Hill neighborhood “Navy Yard.” While the Navy Yard 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 www.CulturalTourismDC.org to learn about other DC neighborhoods.
List of contributors and sponsors to the Barracks
Caption:U.S. Marines perform during a traditional Friday evening parade, 1959.
Erected 2004 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 7 of 16.)
Location. 38° 52.75′ N, 76° 59.71′ W. Marker is in Capitol Hill, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 8th Street, SE and I Street, S.E., on the right when traveling south on 8th Street, SE. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20003, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. (within shouting distance of this marker); William Prout: Community Builder (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Washington Navy Yard: Serving the Fleet (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Neighborhood For Everyone (approx. 0.2 miles away); Oldest Post of the Corps (approx. 0.2 miles away); Washington Navy Yard: Maker of Weapons (approx. 0.2 miles away); Christ Church and Its Parishioners (approx. 0.2 miles away); John Philip Sousa (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Capitol Hill.
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Military •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 24, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 10, 2013, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia. This page has been viewed 371 times since then and 11 times this year. Last updated on July 14, 2013, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia. Photos: 1. submitted on July 10, 2013, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia. 2. submitted on December 2, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 3, 4. submitted on July 10, 2013, by Kevin Vincent of Arlington, Virginia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.