DC Heritage Trails: Tour of Duty: Barracks Row Heritage Trail:
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- TRDUTY_090208_29.JPG: Tour of Duty
Barracks Row Heritage Trail
15 A Fine House In the Woods
Since 1936 Friendship House, across the street, has operated an array of social service programs from this grand Federal style house, also known as "The Maples." Friendship House is the city's oldest such agency. It was founded in 1904 by Adelaide Rochefort and Ida Green in rented rooms at Tenth and M Streets, SE.
The Maples was built in 1795 to showcase Captain William Mayne Duncanson, a wealthy trader who invested heavily in Washington real estate and entertained lavishly. When he built this house, stables, and slave quarters, the area was undeveloped. After a visit, George Washington wrote of the Maples as a "fine house in the woods."
By 1800, however, Duncanson's high life had ended with the failure of his businesses, and he was forced to move. The property stood vacant until 1814, when the U.S. Army made it a hospital during the Battle of Bladensburg. In 1815 Francis Scott Key, author of The Star Spangled Banner, purchased and restored the property.
Later owners included Major Augustus A. Nicholson, quartermaster general of the Marines, who purchased the Maples in 1838 and made it an unofficial Marine headquarters and social center until 1846. In 1872 Emily Edson Briggs, a pioneering woman journalist, purchased the Maples. Briggs wrote a gossipy Washington column signed "Olivia" and was the first woman to receive White House press credentials. In 1936, Briggs's heirs sold the Maples to an anonymous buyer who donated it to Friendship House.
- TRDUTY_090208_31.JPG: Tour of Duty
Barracks Row Heritage Trail
7 Strike Up the Band
If you are hearing the ringing tones of band music, one of the ensembles of the world-famous United States Marine Band may be practicing inside the Marine Barracks.
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 eventually settled in the neighborhood. Italian immigrants contributed music schools, bakeries, and other businesses.
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.
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