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An early type of Washington home, still standing at 1819
and 1817 Sixth street N.W. - 4-. By John Clagett Proctor. THE many types of houses in the Capital City must be interest ing, and amusing as well, to the professional architect and those who make a study of architec ture, especially in the big American cities. But, perhaps, in no other place does a better field present itself for comparison and criticism than right here in Washington, where we still have all forms to study, including mansions, comfortable dwellings and just plain shacks, nearly all of which have been handed down to the present generation from the days when the city was in its infancy. But it was not intended to be this way. Indeed, the building regulations as promulgated by President Wash ington on the seventeenth day of Oc tober, 1791, had just the opposite in tention, and if adhered to would at least have prevented the erection here of any but respectable looking homes and other structures. However, it was soon realized that for a newly platted town, in a republic just beginning to grow, the stringent laws laid down could not always be complied with, and once the bars were let down the damage was done. II was Washington’s order “That the outer and party walls of all houses within the said city shall be built of brick or stone.” also that “The wall of no house to be higher than 40 feet to the roof in any part of the city; nor shall any be lower than 35 feet on any of the avenues.” The First President also provided against the construction of vaults under the streets and “encroachments on the footway above by steps, stoops, porches, cellar doors, windows, ditches or leaning walls.” In less than three years the regula tions began to be modified, and on July 7, 1794, Thomas Johnson, David Stuart and Daniel Carroll, the original Commissioners, so changed the rules as to admit of “areas or ditches of 7 feet in breadth, cut in the street, and secured by a good wall,” etc. QN June 25, 1796, President Wash ington, deeming the restrictions then placed upon the erection of buildings as impeding the settlement of the city by mechanics and others, gave permission for the erection of wooden houses in the chosen Capital, covering not more than 320 square feet, and not to be higher than 12 feet from the sill to the eaves. This change in the regulations "as to be effective until the first Monday in December, 1800, and further extensions along this line were made until January 1, 1818. Thirteen days later, James Monroe, then President of the United States, approved the changes made up to this time, and continued them in force until January 1, 1820, providing, how ever, that no wooden house, as before described, should be placed within 24 feet of any other house, and by act of March 30, 1822, as passed by the City Council, all changes made prior to this date were approved and continued in force. Here, however, it was provided that: * * * * Every house hereafter erected in the City of Washington shall be deemed and taken to be a frame house, the outer walls of which shall not be of stone or brick: and no frame house 6hall be higher than 20 feet from the •ill to the top of ridge of the roof.” Thus it can be seen that what was from the first intended to be a city of fine homes only became a city of all types of houses, and even today, many frame structures, including a few cme Btory houses, are to be seen in America’s most beautiful city. But gradually, as the city began to be built up, the building regulations became more rigid, and today it is only in some of the outlying sections of the District that frame dwellings can be built. Just a few years ago, Mades Hotel, then at the southwest corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Third streej, now a part of the Mall, was the only frame building on the Avenue from the Capitol to Twenty-second street west, but as this building is a thing of the past, only brick and stone buildings now prevail on this noted thoroughfare in the downtown part of Washington, and the city is becoming more attractive in every respect as the years go by. VJANY years ago it appears to have been the duty of a Federal offi cer to superintend the construction of both public and private buildings in the city, but since this officer seems not to have been so particular about private dwellings, many things were permitted that were contrary to the regulations. However, since 1877, when Thomas M. Plowman became Inspector of buildings for the District of Columbia, a real effort has been made to carry out the regulations, with a maximum of success, although some strange things have happened in the past that have caused the inspec tor and the city officials much anx iety and worry. One incident in particular that un doubtedly caused Inspector Thomas B. Bntwistle some sleepless nights in volved the issuing of a permit to Mrs. Annie A. Cole to build a bay window to her home, on the west side of Thomas Circle, where Massachusetts avenue and M street come to a point. Hits incident occurred in 1888, and although a permit for similar work had been Issued before and never challenged, yet this one went to the courts and was hard fought by able oounsel, and although Mrs. Cole lost the suit in the lower court, yet Con gress came to her rescue, and in the end she emerged victorious. The original building is still stand ing, as is also the famous bay window. The former is of light brick (or painted light), while the latter is of red brick, both being joined together. To the original or light brick build ing Mrs. Cole conceived the idea of attaching a bay window, and after it was half way up the protests were many and vigorous, coming mainly from the residents of High land terrace, on the north side of Massachusetts avenue between Four teenth and Fifteenth greets, where re elded a number of prominent men, in cluding Senators and others. 'T'HE Cole residence was probably built in 1874, at which time it was the home of Peter J. Lauritzen, an architect, who was also its designer. Later Lauritzen became Danish Vice Consul and Consul, and in 1880 was assistant building inspector, while also occupying an office on F street as an architect. Mrs. Cole bought the Thomas Circle house about 1885, when her name first appears in the city directory as residing at 1400 Massachusetts avenue. At this date, and for many years afterward, this neighborhood was one on the mo6t refined and exclusive residential sections in Washington. Occupying homes on the north side of Massachusetts avenue between Four teenth and Fifteenth streets were the Chinese Legation, at 1401; the home of the Right Rev. Henry Y. Satterlee, first Protestant Episcopal Bishop of Wash ington, at 1407, and here the bishop died. Arthur P. Gorman, Senator from Maryland, made his home for awhile at 1409, while Senator George F. Edmunds lived in the adjoining house. Then came the residence of Senator Thomas F. Bayard of Dela ware, followed by Senator Shelby M. Cullum of Illinois, with Maj. Thomas B. Ferguson in the house at 1435, which he built. Maj. Ferguson was the Assistant Commissioner of Fish and Fisheries (to use this bureau's old name), and later he leased the property to Senator George Hearst of California, father of William Randolph Hearst, and when Senator Hearst va cated it it became the German Le gation. 'J'HE United States Fish Commission occupied premises 1443 Massa chusetts avenue, and next door, at 1445, was the home of Prof. Spencer F. Baird, secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, director of the United States National Museum, and the Commissioner of Fisheries. This build ing also housed a part of the Fish Commission, and in the back part that extended to N street was the office of Herbert A. Gill, the disbursing officer for the commission. Another resident of the Terrace, at 1439, was J. Ormond Wilson, who for many years served as superintendent of public schools, and who endeared himself to thousands of Washington school children while he occupied that office. In 1885 Lewis J. Davis, the banker, moved to 1411, in this block, the prop erty going to his niece, Mrs. Mary Mauro Ryan, wife of Philip J. Ryan, a naval officer. S. H. Kauffmann, president of The Evening Star News paper Co., later took up his residence at 1421. On the opposite side of the BUILDING RULES MADE LOCAL HISTORY Early Regulations Were Changed to Suit Conditions and Contributed to Types of Homes in Later Years—Pioneer Residents of Thomas Circle. Famous Bay-Window Case. EMPLOYES OF THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR OF BUILDINGS, 1906 „ Pront row' lelt topoM: E. R. Greer, IV. I. Evans, L. Norris, C. IV. Sommerville, Snowden Ashford (inspector of buildings), Arthur M. Poynton (principal assistant inspector), R. M. Evans and J. T. S. Holtzman. Second row (beginning with man without vest): E. F. Vermillion, H. Storey, J. A. Brown, C. A. Harkness (man with light suit in front of Mr. Brown), E. Kern, T. Franbis (back of Mr. Kern), A. M. Lawson, J. P. Healey, A. K. Selden (between Mr. Francis and Mr. Healey) and J. F. Markey (right of Mr. Selden). Back row (beginning with man at left with string tie): J. P. Parry, A. S. J. Atkinson, E. G. Curtis (elderly man), E. J. Fay. A. M. Proctor, C. E. Allison, P. F. Gormley and R. P. Hutchins. The photograph was taken on the courthouse steps. i avenue, at 1404, lived Senator Julius C. Burrows of Michigan, and Senator Cushman K. Davis of Minnesota was a near neighbor, at 1428. A ROUND the circle also lived about this time other foremost residents of Washington, including Senator Justin S. Morrill of Vermont, who re sided at house No. 1. and G. Wythe Cook, the physician, at No. 3. On the east side was Mrs. Dehlgren's home— where M street and Massachusetts avenue come to a point. The large, plain, square brick residence of Jus tice Andrew Wylie, at the northeast side of the circle, at M street and Ver mont avenue, was still being occupied by that distinguished local jurist, who granted Mrs. Surratt’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus in connection with the assassination of President Lincoln, but which proved of no effect, as President Johnson, by special order, suspended the writ. The Memorial Lutheran Church was there in 1885 and earlier, as was the Portland Hotel, and where is now the National City Christian Church, was still standing, one of the very earliest homes erected In this vicinity, it beijig built about 1824, as a residence for William H. Crawford of Georgia, then Secretary of the Treasury, who— strange as it may seem—built it when ordered to the “country” for bis health. It was also in 1824 that Mr. Crawford failed to secure the Demo cratic nomination for the presidency, and, since he decided not to remain in the cabinet on account of his health, he evidently left Washington soon afterward. In 1843. the city directory shows that Charles Hill, sr., a director of the Bank of the Metropolis, was living on this site, and most likely in this same house. The French Min ister, Chevalier de Bacourt, in refer ring to this location in 1840, makes the following interesting statement: “I went to see Mr. and Mrs. Charles Hill, who live at the extreme end of the city; mv carriage sank up to the axletree in the snow and mud; it was necessary to leave the carriage, which had to be dragged out and scraped to remove the mud and slush, which stuck to it like glue. I don’t know how any one can get to the Hills’ on Monday next, when they give a ball; they count on the moon shining that night to save their necks. This is how it is in Washington—streets not paved, swept or lighted.” Mr. Hill must have lived in this house for some time, since we find him mentioned in the city directories up to 1860. In the latter year his occupation is given as farmer, which indicates the rural condition of this part of the city even up to this date, and he was still an official of the Bank of the Metropolis. Nicholas S. Hill, a lawyer, probably a son of Charles Hill, was residing at the same address in 1860. IN 1863 the Hill mansion, which then had attached to it nearly the entire block of ground, was taken over by the Federal Government as a place for Union soldiers suffering from wounds and disease and called ! Desmarres Hospital and later the Record General Hospital. Here ad ditional frame buildings were also erected and the hospital was not closed by the Government until De cember 2, 1865. During the following year, through the efforts of Dr. J. Harry Thompson, here was opened the Columbia Hospital for Women, now on L street between Twenty fourth and Twenty-fifth streets. As the writer recalls this historic building, it was about the size of the Wylie house, still standing somewhat on the opposite side of the circle, though not quite so high. It was of brick, painted a light color, and after being vacated by Columbia Hospital became the headquarters for the Re publican National Committee, and was later turned into a private school for girls, before being-removed. By this it can be seen that Mrs. Cole was living in a refined and a his toric neighborhood, and when she persisted in continuing on with the construction of her bay window, over the serious and emphatic protests of her Interested neighbors, who had be come considerably roiled by this time, she really made the situation worse than a hornet's nest. AT THIS time the Commissioners 'rv of the District of Columbia were William B. Webb, Samuel B. Wheat ley and Charles W. Raymond and Thomas B. Entwistle was the in spector of buildings, as before stated. In the argument that ensued it is quite apparent that the Commission ers sided with their inspector of buildings, and as Mrs. Cole was pro gressing rapidly with the building, and because the ground upon which it was being erected was Government property, the first move was made by the United States, which filed a bill in equity on November 19. 1888, against Mrs. Cole, the three Commis sioners before mentioned, and Inspec tor Entwistle, and when Webb and Wheatley retired from office the names of their successors, John W. Douglass and Lemon G. Hitv*, were substituted. The bill as filed made the following allegations: "I. That plaintiffs sue in their own right and own in fee simple the beds of all the streets and avenues in the City of Washington. “2. That the defendants are citi zens of the United States and resi dents of the District of Columbia. Defendant, Cole, although married, is MARYLAND SUBURBAN STREETS TO FOLLOW CAPITAL PLAN Letters and Numbers for Metropolitan Areas in One System. By C. Harold Gray. SIXTY THOUSAND people resid ing in the Washington suburbs will be living on new streets within a year or two, even though they and their houses remain at the same spots. This will be brought about because the civic leaders of the Maryland suburbs are now working out an all-inclusive street-name and house-number plan, intended to end the duplication and confusion now existing In the numerous towns just across the District line. All the nearby communities In both Prince Georges and Montgomery Coun ties are co-operating in an effort to systematize and standardize street no menclature and house numbers of the whole Washington-Maryland metro politan area. They plan to apply the District of Columbia system to the entire area. Most of the present streets will be renamed to bring them into conformity. They are following the example set by the citizens of Arlington County, Va., who two years ago abolished all their meaningless street names and adopted the Washington plan, except that, on account of the physical sepa ration caused by the Potomac, they reversed the system in giving east west streets numbers and north-south thoroughfares letters. Following the current trend toward system and or derliness, Alexandria is studying ways to facilitate the locating of house numbers in her chaos of named streets. 'T'HE demand for the proposed sys tematizing has been brewing for years. Far-sighted citizens of the ad jacent Maryland towns have long felt that something should be done to end the Intolerable confusion. The Po6t Office Department, telephone, tele graph, gas and light companies and delivery groups have prayed for this change for years. The last Maryland State Legislature authorized the Maryland - National Capital Park and Planning Commis sion to proceed with the work of sys tematizing street names and house numbers in all the towns of the met ropolitan area in both of the adjaoent counties. Charles M. Jones is in charge of the work in Montgomery and Albert E. Bryan is co-ordinator of the task for Prince Georges. A special committee of citizens in the latter county, headed by Prof. 8. S. Steinberg of the University of Mary land, has approved of the proposal to extend and continue the Washington system clear to the last suburbs. This would take in all towns and subdi visions from the District line to and including Beltsville. One of the first advocates of applying Washington street names to the Mary land towns was Bryant Alden Long of Hyattsville, who in 1930 prepared a detailed plan for adoption by the “Maryland City” combination of towns along the Baltimore boulevard. After the "Maryland CitA’ idea failed to materialize little was done to rid the communities of increasing confusion through lack of a standard plan until the 1937 Legislature took action. V/TR. LONG'S proposal and others submitted more recently call for the renaming of Maryland streets and renumbering of suburban houses to conform to the present ideal system used throughout the District of Co lumbia. Washington’s highway names and buildings numbers will extend past the District line and continue outward without interruption to the last house in the farthest suburb. Thus there will be no duplication and a single name plan will apply to all the towns on the Maryland side of the Potomac, including Washington. The District of Columbia street nam ing and house numbering method, which was devised by L’Enfant and George Washington, is unsurpassed in all the world for simplicity. With north-south arteries bearing numbers and east-west streets being arranged alphabetically in three distinct alpha bets, any one can tell in an instant where a given address is. Under the new proposal this perfect system would be extended and con tinued throughout all the many con tiguous towns in the metropolitan area. With the L’Enfant plan univer sally applied, any house or street could be located at once, and the name of the State, city or county need not eveu be used. Nearly every Maryland town and subdivision now has a separate road way name and house number plan, 11 High-altitude view of Washington and suburban areas, where the naming of new streets is under consideration. any. They do not correspond to each other or to Washington. Most of Washington’s alphabetical and num bered streets come to dead ends at the District line and the Maryland laby rinth of oddly named roadways be gins. That condition was tolerable in the past when each little suburban town was isolated from the others, but now that they have all grown together and are connected to downtown Wash ington with continuously built-up ur ban development it is very baffling to try to find a street or house in the outskirts. TN THE Maryland suburbs there are x 14 streets or avenues whose first four letters spell “Wood." Maps re veal 13 Oak streets or places, 12 Cedars, 12 Parks and 11 Maples. “High” is 'the name or first syllable of ten thoroughfares, and “Hill” is repeated eight times in like manner. Washington street is to be seen in nine different locations, Columbia in eight, and Central, Baltimore and Elm in seven. The names, Maryland, Montgomery and Prince George are each assigned to six different road ways. Carroll, Laurel Pine and Cypress, as street names, are all re peated five times. There are doaens of other road names which are dupli cated two, three and four times. In all, 126 names are duplicated on 450 streets. An address-seeker driving out to a friend's hotise In the suburbs finds as orderly progression of bouse numbers which Increase by 100 every time a numbered or lettered street is crossed, so that he can always keep his bear ings. At the District line in many cases the numbers start at one again and get larger until the first town is passed. Then when he crosses the invisible town line house numbers will reverse themselves and get smaller. He passes into another town and finds that the street changes its name and the building numbers in crease by several hundred or dis appear entirely. T-TOWEVER, credit should be given 1A to three towns for attempting to continue the Washington system. Mount Rainier adopted the District’s names and numbers, but alphabetical streets are two blocks out of line. Chevy Chase and Bethesda continued the Washington method in part. The east-west streets in Chevy Chase, Md., are arranged in alphabetical order but do not continue Washington’s third alphabet. Chevy Chase’s “O" street' is an extension of the District’s third *‘P” street. Bethesda applied numbers to some of her north-south thoroughfares, but she gaves up after four had been so named. Residents and storekeepers near the District line are continually being disturbed by Inquiries as to how to reach some inappropriately-named roadway beyond. People have no trouble te, reaching the line, but the Maryland* hodge-podge floors them. Telegrams and parcel deliveries are often delayed, because even the best maps do not show all the eccentricities of the highway nomenclature in the outskirts. It seems incongruous that such a maze would have developed right be side what experts say is the best planned city in the country. It was brought about because there was no central control over land developers until recently. Every realtor named and numbered roads and houses he built as he pleased—often applying his own or friends’ names to his new streets. Instead of naming thorough fares after those of Washington with which they were nearest in line, they often gave them “pretty” names, such as Westwood, Overbrook, Glenbrook, Glendale, etc. They also designated short, narrow streets as “parkways,” “boulevards” or "avenues.” The idea was to please their prospective buyers and give them flattering addresses, to the utter disregard of orderliness, sys tem and simplicity. 'T'HIS confusing condition once had A a parallel in the District of Colum bia. The original L’Enfant plan did not extend north of Florida avenue, which was then called Boundary street, and was the Washington city line. As the Capital City outgrew her original limits, in the years following the Civil War, several subdivisions were developed on the hills Just north of Florida avenue. The realtors dis regarded the L’Enfant plan entirely. They apparently given free reign, and they laid out streets as narrow Residence of Mrs. Coles at 1400 Massachusetts avenue N.W. before the bay window was added. ■— — ■ 11 - ■ ■ > ■ 1 - 1 ■ —■ i sued In her own right as owner of the property hereinafter named. The Dther defendants are sued as incum oents of the public offices above named. “3. Defendant Cole claims to own in her own right, and is in possession sf part of lot 1 in heirs of John Davidson’s subdivision of square 213 in Washington, fronting 126.38 feet in M street north, 115.50 feet on Massachusetts avenue, having a west erly boundary line of 91.30 feet and running to a point at its eastern end, ill as shown in figure 1 of exhibit 1, Hied with bill. "4. A part of said building has for many years been improved by a brick dwelling, while the eastern part, front J>g 55.68 feet on M street and 52.8 Feet on Massachusetts avenue, is va cant, all as Indicated on figure 1 of ex hibit." John Blair Hoge was the attorney for the United States, in and for the District of Columbia, and naturally drew up the bill. Later, Rudolph Coyle was added as counsel for the Gov ernment. William Blmey and Martin P. Morris, appeared for Mrs. Cole; Al bert O. Riddle for the Commissioners and for Inspector of Buildings Ent wistle. 'J'HE answer filed for Mrs. Cole to the Government’s bill, claimed "That building regulation No. 2, made by the city and approved by President Washington, July 7, 1794, has always been recognized by the courts and municipal authorities as having the force of a statute of that date; that said regulations authorized lot own ers to occupy 7 feet of streets con tiguous to their lots for certain build ing purposes; that the easement has never been revoked, and has re ceived recognition in sundry city ordinances passed between 1820 and 1871, and has been continuously en joyed since 1794; that under this usage large numbers of dwellings have been built with areas, vaults, steps, porches, colonnades, palisades or tower projections extending beyond the exterior lines of the lots; that the law of the United States of June 14, 1878, directing the Commissioners to make and enforce building regula tions, was enacted with full knowledge of this usage, and is confirmatory thereof; that the projection com plained of conforms to usage, the reg ulations and the permit." The arguments in the case were made on October 17, 18 and 19. 1889, and Mr. Justice James in deciding the case against Mrs. Cole, the Com Old Process Employed in District Expected to Harmonize Whole; and crooked as they pleased. Old maps reveal that they, too, applied pretty and flattering names to the highways in Kalorama, Mount Pleas ant, Meridian Hill and Columbia Heights. This growth progressed unchecked as far north as Spring and Rock Creek Church roads before the offlcial street plan for the whole District was estab lished prior to the turn of the cen tury. The original street names of Georgetown and the disorderly road nomenclature in the above-mentioned suburbs were abolished. Washington and the District of Co lumbia were made co-extensive and the L Enfant system of streets was es tablished for the whole area. All new subdivisions were required to conform to the plan. North-south streets were given appropriate numbers and east west streets were lettered. Since the first alphabet ran out at Florida ave nue, the meaningless names of the first tier of suburbs were changed into a second alphabet of two-syllable words, and when the third-alphabet streets were opened, mostly during and following the World War, they bore three-syllable names. These streets bear, in most cases, surnames of fa mous people, while those of the fourth alphabet are named after trees and plants. 'T'HE Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and the citizens of the various towns in the metropolitan area are now trying to accomplish what was done in the District over 40 years ago. The continuous growth of the Capital City at that time made the leaders realize that the original boundaries were too small, and that the city would soon occupy the whole District of Columbia. Therefore they brought Georgetown and the new suburbs into conformity with the city proper, and controlled all new urban growth so that dupli cation would be prevented and the whole area could be treated as one unit to facilitate administration and communication. At present the city has completely occupied the District and has spread over into Maryland for many miles in several directions. Economically, physically and culturally, Bethesda, Hyattsville and Capitol Heights, Md., are as closely allied to downtown Washington as is Chevy Chase or Anacostia, D. C. Therefore, civic leaders in the adjoining Maryland towns are attempting to do the same work beyond the present Washington city limits that was done years age outside the old city line. But this time the effort is merely to restore order to street names and numbers. There is no thought of annexation or of communities losing their iden tities. When Washington's flawless street name plan is applied to all of its suburbs, we will have here a metro politan area in which any address can be located with ease. In that respect f|ie National Capital area will be sec end to none and will be a model oi metropolitan accessibility. mlssloners and Inspector Entwlatle, among other things said: “We think that this structure vio lates both the letter and spirit of the building regulations,” and "so far as this structure is an unauthorized In trusion on the public space, it should be abated.” And, in accordance with these principles he ordered a decree to be drawn. JJUT Mrs. Cole did not stop here, for it is said she employed a sur veyor to survey all the buildings around the circle, and about the time she was getting somewhere and many of her neighbors were getting restless Congress, in order to close the matter, added to the District of Columbia deficiency bill, approved March 3, 1891, the following para graph: "That the action of the Commis sioners of the District of Columbia in heretofore granting permits for the extension of any building or buildings, or any part or parts thereqf, in the City of Washington, in the District of Columbia, beyond the building line and upon the streets and avenues of said city, is hereby ratified without prejudice, however, to the legal rights of the Government in the event of the destruction by fire or otherwise of any such structure. And here after no such permit shall be grant ed except upon special application and with the concurrence of all of said Commissioners and the approval of the Secretary of War.” And so Mrs. Cole won out, and the bay window still stands, a monu ment to what one woman can do when she makes up her mind. ^ DECIDEDLY more important af fair than the Cole bay window case, and one that proved extremely tragic, was the falling in of the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater on January 28, 1922, in which about 96 persons were killed and many injured. As this building was a comparatively new one. having been erected only five years before the roof fell, it nat urally caused the inspector of build ings more than ordinary concern. Morris Hacker was then the inspec tor of buildings, and the coroner's jury included him among the nine men to be held for the action of the grand jury. However, he was later among those exonerated by that body. The toppling over of the south wall of the Metzerott Music Hall Building, later called the Columbia Theater, back in the 90s, resulted in the death of one person, and another pathetic incident that took place about this time was the caving in of the floors of the old Ford’s Theater, on Tenth street, when quite a number of Gov ernment employes were killed and many maimed for life. But this work was done under the direction of the Federal Government, and tha local authorities were not involved. JNDEED, as we look back over the years and note the vast amount of construction work that has taken place here, and is still being done, only in an ever-increasing volume, we have to pay a deserved and well-earned tribute to the painstaking care and efficiency of the building inspectors who have followed in office the capa ble Thomas M. Plowman, back in 1877, and these include Thomas B. Entwistle. John B. Brady, Snowden Ashford, Morris Hacker and the pres ent efficient inspector, John W. Oeh mann. who is also colonel of Engineers of the National Guard and command - ing officer of the 121st Regiment of Engineers. National Guard of the Dis trict of Columbia. Col. Oehmann may be having a little let-up in his arduous duties just now, due to a prevailing slump in the build ing business, but he had enough to do during the first nine months of the year just ended to majfe everybody in his office work overtime, Including himself. A statement has recently been made, and it is true, that during the first nine months referred to the volume of building in Washington was exceeded only by New York, Los Angeles and Detroit. An idea of that great volume may be had when we are told that private construction in the District leaped from $8,529,000 in 1934 to $34, 560,000 in the first 10 months of 1937. And this does not include what 1s generally known as Metropolitan Washington—or nearby Maryland and Virginia—the residents of which area are largely employed in the District of Columbia. Washington, in 1930, was the four teenth city in population in the United States, and by 1940 is expected to be tenth, should it pass in line Buffalo, Milwaukee, San Francisco and Pitts burgh. And in time it bids fair to be the world's paradise, if it does not already hold this unique position, as many competent Judges believe. Bootleg Radios. LONDON (A>).—The postmaster gen eral is oiling up his detective vans for one of his periodic drives against owners of unlicensed radio receiving sets. For radio programs are not free in the United Kingdom. You have to pay $2.50 a year for a license or run the risk of getting caught and teed upward of $25. The revenue from about 8,500,000 licensed sets is what supports the gov ernment-supervised British Broadcast ing Co. There’s enough left over to give other government departments a healthy boost/ Hie effect of the detective vans is largely psychological. People see them in their neighborhood and rush to buy a license. The vans, however, are equipped with sensitive instruments which, it is said, actually can detect the presence of a radio in a house or flat. After that it's a simple matter of checking with the local post office to see if there's a license registered for the set. The post office’s biggest aid in tracks teg down "bootleg" sets is neighbors who tattle on one another.