By Frank Leone and Denise Vogt
The FBA History Project shared its new Foggy Bottom Historic District House Map with many of the 675 attendees at the History Network session of the recent D.C. History Conference. Several people stopped by our table to share their recollections of the neighborhood. For example, we met Joan G. who recalled when her relatives lived above the now 7-11 store in 1910. Her grandparents, the Kolkers, ran a small grocery store at the street level. We encourage people to add their recollections and other information to the Map project.
The unique map provides detailed information about the Historic District neighborhood and each of its 250+ houses. This innovative on-line project is the first of its kind to document a Washington, D.C. neighborhood's history. It combines individual House History pages for each building in the Foggy Bottom Historic District Study Area with a map whose layers show historic maps, census/city directory data, and other information focusing on the period of 1870 to 1910. We hope to extend the map layers to include the period prior to 1870 and from 1911 to 1970.
Each House History page features an individual house and can be accessed by using this link or by clicking on the house's location on the map that opens to display a Layer listing (select specific information on the right side) that shares more historical information of the area. Several layers can be opened at one time.
For example, if you go to the map and enter 844 New Hampshire Ave NW (or click on that house on the map) it will take you to the large yellow Fitzgerald House at the corner of New Hampshire and I Streets. You can pull up layers on the map showing historic maps, census, and city directory data that illustrates how the neighborhood grew. Clicking on the house itself will provide you information on its construction and then click on “FBA House History More Info” to reach the specific house history page.
That House History Page tells you more about the house’s residents including the first homeowner, Irish immigrant John Fitzgerald, who opened a grocery store there in 1892, married his Irish immigrant wife Kate in 1895, but died in 1899. He is buried in Mt. Olivet cemetery, with many D.C. Irish Americans. His wife (who had changed her name to Catherine upon marriage), was left with two infant children and a young nurse, and ran the store until about 1916. It was then operated as a corner grocery by a series of Jewish American families and then a Japanese American family until the 1950s. The store was on the street level and the family lived in other parts of the house. Later, the house then was divided and became apartments. Steve Timlin, a long-time Foggy Bottom activist inherited the house from his aunt and he lived there from 1986 to 2008. The Fitzgerald House is now rental apartments. The House History Page provides census and other documents and photographs of the house and its residents over time. There is still more information on its history to be added. (If anyone knows what happened to Mr. Timlin’s records on the neighborhood, we could be most interested in reviewing them.)
Anyone can participate in the project. You can help build the House History Mapping project by providing information including house and resident histories, and recollections, or uploading documents or photographs about your house or others in the neighborhood. You can share this information using our easy on-line Submit House Information form.
House History Resources for Your Research: You can start by reviewing any materials you have collected about your house. If you have neighbors or friends who have left Foggy Bottom but have information to contribute - please share this page with them. For additional research, a good place to start is the DC History Center's Building Research Guide and you can find more at our History Resources Page.
Thanks to the FBA for supporting the History Project, the Foggy Bottom Defense and Improvement Fund for a grant for enabling the production of the mapping portion, Brian Kraft for researching and preparing the map, and Sadie Cornelius for her tireless work on the FBA History Project and house history webpages.
For more information on the FBA History Project endeavors, see our web page.