Churches often led the way, and in 1902, the Rhode Island Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church built their elegant structure at the desirable corner of Rhode Island and 1st Street, N.W. In a postcard dated 1907, (picture to be added) the church was headed by Reverend J. M. Gill. The Church, now named Mount Bethel Baptist Church, (current pastor Bobby L. Livingston, Sr.) houses an active congregation founded by former slaves. Mount Bethel was a staging point for the famed 1963 March on Washington. The century-old church was featured on the History Channel’s show, “ America’s Most Endangered” because of its need for preservation and upkeep, which the church has begun. The congregation is actively involved in community outreach programs.
Construction on some of the earliest homes were completed between 1898 and 1900. Eleven homes along the unit block of Rhode Island Avenue joined the M. E. church just a year later, in 1903, and the remainder of the surrounding blocks had been built in a speculative nature by such developers as Harry Wardman, Francis Blundon, and S. H. Meyers within the following decade. The neighborhood website contains a list of Bloomingdale's Wardman built homes. Many of Wardman's first homes incorporate elements of Richardson Romanesque architecture (a sub-category of Victorian). This can be seen in the ornate floral and vine-like stone carving around doors and windows of many Bloomingdale homes. His later homes, like those on Adams and Bryant Streets, are in an architectural style for which he is most prominently known, brick homes which incorporate a deeper setback from the street and large covered front porch. Blundon built several homes along 1st Street and including 100 W Street, NW, which he occupied with his family. The only changes to the exterior of 100 W Street since its original construction have been the former rear porch being filled in with a garage built towards the alley and the replacement of the original clay roof tiles with standard roofing material. Blundon had previously lived nearby at 67 Street, NW. (See TheInTowner, April 2008).
Home construction often necessitated school construction, with the Gage School in the 2000 block of 2nd Street being erected in 1904. Utilized for decades before school consolidation, the 21,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) facility has been turned into award-winning Parker Flats at Gage School that have retained the historic nature of the original school house building. Many homes in the northern section of Bloomingdale still retain carriage houses in the block interiors. Some have been converted to private residences.
The photograph (photo to be added) dated March 7, 1936 at right was captured on 4th Street, looking south from the 2300 block toward Rhode Island Avenue. The larger Eckington neighborhood had begun to take on the identity of several neighborhoods, including this area, coined Edgewood. Other areas of the neighborhood were absorbed into LeDroit Park and the newly named Bloomingdale to the west. The boys waiting in front of the store were no doubt hoping to earn funds carrying groceries home for shoppers in their wagons. The small store was part of the Sanitary grocery chain, founded in 1909, which had hundreds of locations throughout the district until it was purchased by the Safeway Company in 1928. The Sanitary name was utilized until 1941. In a way typical of many neighborhoods, this area, at the edge of Brookland, had a diverse population as the owners of the stores along that block reveal: Henry Lee (Laundry), Samuel Tripi (Shoe Repair), Benjamin Cherkasky (Billiards), Nazret Carcoginian (Grocer), and E. G. Schafer (Plumbing Supplies).
Samuel Gompers the founder of the American Federation of Labor in 1886 (which later became the AFL-CIO), built a house for himself at 2122 1st Street, N.W., in 1900. Born in London, England on January 26, 1850 to poor Jewish immigrants from Holland, Gompers began working as a shoemaker at the age of 10. He soon switched trades to become a cigar maker, which brought him to New York City (with his family) in 1863. He headed the AFL-CIO until his death on December 13, 1924. His house was declared an individual landmark on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Another notable former resident of Bloomingdale is one of Broadway's most accomplished and versatile singer, dancer, and entertainer, Chita Rivera (1933–present). She is a recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center honor, presented by the President of the United States, has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and has received six additional Tony Award nominations. Known to her friends in the neighborhood as Dolores, Ms. Rivera lived with her parents (both Federal government employees) on the 2100 block of Flagler Place NW. Her father was Puerto-Rican and her mother was of Scottish and Italian descent. Chita lived in the neighborhood until the age of 15 when she auditioned for and was admitted to the prestigious Jones-Haywood School of Ballet in Washington, D.C. and her career took off.
At 127 Randolph Place, Barnett-Aden was the first privately owned black gallery in the US and one of Washington, D.C.’s principal Art galleries when it opened in 1943. Founded by James V. Herring and Alonzo J. Aden, it was named ‘Barnett-Aden' to honor Aden’s Mother’s family. Howard University professor emeritus and former head of the art department, Dr. James Herring also helped to establish the gallery (picture to be added).
While the owners of the gallery were African American, Barnett-Aden was not conceived as a “black gallery.” It was one of the few art places in the city in which artists representing different nationalities, races and ethnicities were exhibited together. Noted for its afternoon art openings the Barnett-Aden Gallery became an important social gathering place. The collection is currently housed in a museum in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Much of the neighborhood had large Italian, Irish, German, Jewish, and African American populations even before neighboring LeDroit Park had integrated. In 1948, a famous Supreme Court case, Hurd v. Hodge, 334 U.S. 24 (1948), found the enforcement of racial and religious covenants restricting home ownership from African Americans, Jews, etc. were unconstitutional. The house at issue in the case is located at 116 Bryant Street, NW and had been purchased by James M. Hodge and his wife, an African American couple. These pioneering home-owners made it easier for all Americans, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic origin, to purchase property in this country.
The neighborhood has recently undergone revitalization. Proof of this can be seen at the Parker Flats at (the former) Gage School. Designed by Architect David Haresign, AIA, Parker Flats is ranked among the top 12 Residential Designs for 2008. According to the AIA, "this old DC public school building near LeDroit Park in Northwest Washington had sat empty for more than 30 years. Today, the historic landmark is the centerpiece of a 92-unit condominium project that has catalyzed neighborhood revitalization. In addition to the complete restoration of the Gage School, the development includes two new flanking buildings that are in keeping with the architecture of the area’s early 20th century apartment buildings and row houses."
Not all of Bloomingdale's energy has gone into improving the homes. Bloomingdale is the rare D.C. neighborhood to have its own greenspace, Crispus Attucks Park (CAP). CAP is named after African-American Crispus Attucks, who was killed during the Boston Massacre and who is often regarded as the first person killed in the American Revolution. The acre-and-a-quarter park, located within the court bounded by 1st, U, V, and North Capitol Streets NW, is dedicated to all victims of violence, like Crispus Attucks himself. CAP is privately owned, but open to the public, and is maintained through the donations of time, money, and sweat of neighbors. It is a beautiful urban greenspace.
The neighborhood has many active neighborhood groups and associations including, but not limited to, the Bloomingdale Civic Association, the Bloomingdale Garden Club, the Public Safety Initiative, the Big Bear Book Club, the Big Daddy Running Club, Crispus Attucks Development Corporation (which owns and oversees CAP), and a new chapter of the 4-H Club.
New businesses have recently opened such as the Bloomingdale Inn (a bed and breakfast), Window's Market (a market and cafe with wifi access), Big Bear Cafe (a cafe, coffeehouse, small plate meals with drinks), Yoga District, Showtime Barbershop and Salon, FieldToCity (formerly named "Timor Bodega," serving hard to find produce, wines, beers, and local/organic produce on 2nd and Rhode Island Ave., N.W.) and Rustik (a brick oven pizzeria and tavern) at the corner of T & 1st Streets and Rhode Island Avenue. Every summer, the Bloomingdale Farmers' Market is open on Sundays from 10:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.M. on R St between Florida Ave and 1st Street, N.W. At least one more family-friendly tavern and eatery is scheduled to open around Labor Day 2011, The Boundary Stone on Rhode Island Avenue in the old Sylvan Theater, (note that the old Sylvan Theater marquee sign was recently relit in full color neon after several decades being dark).
On May 22, 2010, D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray officiated the dedication of a new street, Bloomingdale Court, N.W. between the 100 block of U and V Streets, N.W., and the 2000 block of 1st Street and Flagler Place, N.W. This new street came about through the efforts the residents of Bloomingdale Court and Commissioner John Salatti. The street was given its name by Frederick Louis Richardson, a local author ("Black Rush" and "The Rococo Paradox") who resides on Flagler Place.
- ^ "Councilmember: Relief fund needed for victims of Sunday's flooding". wtop.com. Retrieved 2012-09-03.
- ^ http://www.chitarivera.com/bio.htm
- ^ http://charlestonscarts.org/307mintmuseumoa.html
- ^ http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/company-structures-ownership/6853628-1.html
- ^ http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=US&vol=334&page=24
- ^ http://www.architecturedc.net/
This page was last modified on 9 November 2012 at 14:55.