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Copyrights: All pictures were taken by amateur photographer Bruce Guthrie (me!) who retains copyright on them. Free for non-commercial use with attribution. See the [Creative Commons] definition of what this means. "Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie" is fine for attribution. (Commercial use folks can of course contact me.) Feel free to use in publications and pages with attribution but you don't have permission to sell the photos themselves. A free copy of any printed publication using any photographs is requested. Descriptive text, if any, is from a mixture of sources, quite frequently from signs at the location or from official web sites; copyrights, if any, are retained by their original owners.
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CALLBX_200830_01.JPG: Georgetown's First Market
The citizens of Georgetown were already raising money for good causes two centuries ago. In 1796 the Mayor of Georgetown, Daniel Reintzel, was authorized to demolish a frame market house that stood on this site and erect a new brick market building. Funds for the new market were to be raised by voluntary contribution from the citizens of Georgetown.
During the decades of profitable operation of the adjacent Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, which made Georgetown a thriving commercial port, the Old Georgetown Market was enlarged. But by the end of the Civil War the market was worn out and was torn down and rebuilt again. One hundred years later, the U.S. Congress declared the market a historic landmark, and required that it be preserved and used only as a farmers market. So what began in revolutionary times as a butcher's market is still functioning as a market today — perhaps the finest remaining symbol of Georgetown's long commercial history.
Georgetown continues its tradition of volunteering funds for worthy projects. Just like for the Old Georgetown Market, funds for the restoration of this, and all other police and fire call boxes in Georgetown were raised by voluntary contributions from its proud citizens and business leaders.
CALLBX_200830_08.JPG: Historic Preservation in Georgetown
Georgetown citizens have been central to preserving Georgetown's important historic houses. Three of these houses, built at the turn of the 19th century on large plots of land overlooking the port, are now accessible to the public and are testaments to the rich architectural heritage of Georgetown.
Built in 1800, Dumbarton Oaks, 3101 R Street, was purchased by former diplomat Robert Woods Bliss and his wife Mildred in 1920. They restored the run-down houses and added the gardens designed by renowned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand.
In 1923, inspired by the Blisses, fellow diplomat Ferdinand Lammot Belin saved Evermay, 1623 28th Street, from demolition for apartment house construction. Belin restored Evermay's 18th-century Georgian character by removing Victorian additions. Evermay became home to three generations of Belins.
Dumbarton House, 2715 Q Street, was built in 1798. In 1915, when the Dumbarton Bridge was built over Rock Creek, the house was moved 100 feet to accommodate the extension of Q Street into Georgetown. The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America purchased and restored the house in 1928.
Tudor Place, 1644 31st Street, was built by Martha Washington's granddaughter, Martha Custis Peter and her husband, Thomas, who bought the land with a legacy of $8,000 from George Washington. Designed by William Thornton, architect of the U.S. Capitol, Tudor Place was home to six generations of the Peter family. In 1966, Armistead Peter III became the first private home owner to grant the nation's first scenic easement to protect historic property.
Georgetown citizens were instrumental in persuading Congress to pass the Old Georgetown Act in 1950, creating the Georgetown Historic District.
CALLBX_200830_17.JPG: Volta Place: A Place in History
The first house of worship in Georgetown — a town dominated by Presbyterian Scots — was a log church built in 1769 by a Lutheran congregation where the present Lutheran church now stands (opposite). The Presbyterian Burial Ground, once the resting place of both Revolutionary and Civil War dead, was located in the next block. It is now the busy and beautiful Volta Park, restored by its neighbors and the city in the 1990s and maintained by the Friends of Volta Park.
South of the park is the charmingly restored Pomander Walk, an alley once known as Bell's Court. Named for Alexander Graham Bell, who lived and worked at the west end of Volta Place, the alley's ten tiny dwellings each sheltered two African American families who worked as domestics and laborers. The houses had no running water or electricity. By the late 1940s the families were evicted as part of the city's effort to eliminate substandard housing.
At the west end of Volta Place is the Volta Bureau. It is the headquarters of the Alexander Graham Bell Associated for the Deaf, founded by Bell to promote teaching deaf children to speak. Bell made many scientific inventions, notably the telephone and the phonograph record, but this great passion was helping the deaf. The Bureau was named for the Volta Prize, awarded to Bell by France for scientific achievement in electricity. Helen Keller, the deaf and blind woman who inspired millions turned the sod at the groundbreaking in 1893. Bell's parents lived at 1527 35th Street, and the inventor used the small stucco carriage house behind as a workshop.
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2020 photos: The year is too new to have anything to report. The Covid-19 disaster cut off most events here in DC after March 11 and even cut off going outside after awhile. Here's hoping honesty and integrity wins for a change this November.