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Funkstown: The FBA History Project in 2021 and Beyond

Since its founding in January 2021, the Foggy Bottom Association’s History Project has made major progress:

First, we’ve added our History Project Page to the FBA’s website. This page provides updates on the History Project and a gateway to our materials.

Second, the FBA News articles on Foggy Bottom history are also available at the Website’s Funkstown Blog. In 2021, we had 12 articles on subjects including Foggy Bottom’s Underground Railroad connections, Native American history, and noteworthy alley housing. You can keep up to date on the blog with the @FunkstownDC twitter page. (Also follow the FBA @FoggyBottomDC.)

Third, our History Resources page provides 16 categories of further reading on Foggy Bottom and Washington History. Read the Foggy Bottom Historic District Brochure. Learn about Foggy Bottom’s shady past with Leo Warning’s account of his family’s bootlegging and gambling in The Foggy Bottom Gang: The Story of the Warring Brothers of Washington. Or explore DC history with books like Ricks, Mary K., Escape on the Pearl: The Heroic Bid from Freedom on the Underground Railroad, which discusses the efforts of 13-year old Emily Edmunds (who was working in Foggy Bottom) others to seek freedom on the schooner The Pearl in 1848. The Resources page also provides links to extensive on-line and hard copy resources at the DC History Center, the DC Public Library, and other sites. These sites will help you conduct your own research – e.g. on the history of your own house or neighborhood. (These sites will be useful in the History Project House Mapping Project, discussed below.)

Fourth, we led two walking tours of the Historic District in Fall 2021. The first tour was part of CulturalTourismDC annual program, WalkingDC. The second tour was advertised in the FBA newsletter for association members and their friends. Each tour led over 20 people through the streets and alleys of the Historic District.

Finally, since its founding as the Foggy Bottom Restoration Association in 1955, the FBA has fought to preserve the historic character of the area. In keeping with its roots and original objectives, the FBA’s current mission statement indicates that the FBA will “promote historic preservation in the [Foggy Bottom] area.” Consistent with this mission, we worked to convince George Washington University not demolish the Waggaman House (22nd & I Sts.) and worked to raise public awareness (including articles by John Kelly in the Washington Post and several articles in the GWU Hatchet). We couldn’t save the house, but we hope to build on those discussions to enhance GWU’s appreciation of FB history and work to establish a GWU policy to document historic buildings destined for demolition. We also arranged a talk by Tim Dennee of the DC Historic Preservation Office on the Historic District which is on our website.

We will continue to build on these activities in 2022, including with the following projects:

· We are developing a more in-depth on-line version of the walking tour incorporating images and information from FB’s historic past and present.

· We continue to develop a house mapping project of the Historic District for the website. The interactive house map will provide an opportunity for the community to add information/photos/documents relating to each house and building in the historic district.

· We plan to add an illustrated and interactive timeline of Foggy Bottom history to the website.

· We look forward to working with the Foggy Bottom West End Village to provide programs on FB history, collaboration on oral histories and historical research, and a Spring 2022 Historic District Walking tour.

We encourage you to participate in the FB History Project.

o Share your recollections and identify others with knowledge of the neighborhood;

o Research your house or other existing buildings in the Foggy Bottom area and prior FB residents, famous and otherwise;

o Contribute to the Historic District House Mapping Project by providing photos of renovations, vintage photos, memories of the house’s history, and other historical knowledge.

o Explore the African American history of Foggy Bottom, including through census data analysis;

o Focus on every-day life during specific historic periods of interest, e.g., the 1890s;

o Research “lost Foggy Bottom,” including, e.g., former churches, areas redeveloped by George Washington University, destroyed by the Potomac Freeway, or replaced by large apartment buildings;

o Share this article with former residents who may have an interest in Foggy Bottom history; and/or

o Investigate other issues that interest you.

· Please let us know how you would like to get involved. Contact: FLeoneDC@gmail.com

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