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Evening star. [volume] (Washington, D.C.) 1854-1972, May 03, 1942, Image 29

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Early Markets of Old Washington
' By John Clagett Proctor.
When the writer recently pasted the
Western Market, which stands at
Twenty-first and K streets northwest, he
saw a dismal-looking building, quite un
like the way it looked up to the time it
was closed a short while ago. The prop
erty was relinquished by the Commis
sioners for the construction of a dormi
tory for Government male employes,
probably on the order of the one for
women now under construction at Six
teenth and Euclid streets northwest,
Ihdeed, this early market house ap
pealed deserted and gloomy, for the
crowd that once assembled there had
disappeared. It had lived Its life well.
It had served the West End with food
for many years. But Its time had come,
and without mourners, and probably
without a sigh of regret, it was boarded
up until such time as the wrecker re
moves it for good.
It is not what we would call an old
building, having been provided for by an
act of the District Legislative Assembly,
passed in August, 1871, and the struc
ture was erected at a cost of 8100,000. It
was begun in 1872 »nd occupied about
1873. However, this market had its be
ginning at a much earlier date, some
time in 1803, to be exact, and this was in
accordance with the city ordinance of
October «, 1802. But it was not erected
on this site, its first home being in the
triangular space between Pennsylvania
avenue and I itreet, Twentieth and
Twenty-first streets, a little over a block
south of its present location.
How Market Site* Were Set
When the Federal City was being
planned, the Commissioners appointed
by President Washington, in providing
for sites for public buildings, also set
aside space for the Eastern, Western
and Center Markets, but only the site
of the latter was used. The location
selected for the Western Market was
Reservation No. 6, though just why this
was done is questionable, since this
reservation, bounded by Twentieth and
Twenty-first streets. B street (now Con
stitution avenue) and the Potomac River,
was under normal conditions almost en
tirely covered with water, which certainly
made it unsuitable for the purpose pro
posed, unless a fish market was intended,
and even then the few customers who
might have come this way would have to
use boats for conveyances. This reserva
tion is now covered by the Munitions
Building, where Is the War Department,
which only goes to show how swamp and
low lands can be reclaimed. But at the
time, this site was certainly not a fit
place for a market, and hence the Penn
sylvania avenue location was decided
The original Western Market was a
small affair, about 20 by 40 feet, we are
told, but apparently a larger one was
not justified until 1822, when a consider
able addition, “with a commodious and
useful room over it" was built, and this
second story or room became the town
hall or general meeting place for that
part of Washington.
As one old-timer records: “It was
probably the most popular hall in the
District. It was utilized for many pur
poses. It was a school room, in which
many received at least a part of their
education from a Mr. Allison and other
teachers; in municipal elections it be
came a polling booth, after it had served
as the meeting place for the nomination
of candidates for office; in the days of
Lorenzo Dow it was to some extent his
church, for he expounded the Gospel
here to crowds; it was also used for tem
perance rallies, particularly during and
after the Washington movement; for
balls, parties and fairs, in which ladles
engaged; for political and club meet
ings, and, in fact, whenever it was de
sired to interest the people of that sec
tion and a hall was needed the old town
hall came into play. Notwithstanding
its general use. there were organizations,
including secret societies, which met
there—Hiram Lodge of Masons, Friend
ship Lodge of Odd Fellows and Marion
Division, Sons of Temperance.
meetings here were the members of the
fire company, whoee roster bore the
names of Thomas Munroe, former Com
missioner, then city postmaster; Thomas
Carberry, surveyor, and afterward Mayor
of the city; John N. Moulder, Richard
S. Briscoe, Henry M. Steiner, Charles B.
Davis, William McPherson. George Mac
daniel, John Woodside, Thomas Filli
brown. John D. Barclay, Charles Vin
son, James H. Handy, Samuel Potts,
Jacob Hines, T. B. Dashell. John 8tretch,
Joseph Forrest, Daniel Waring, John
Potts, W. B. Beall. F. D. Tschiffely, C. A.
Davis, Michael Nourse, Samuel Brook,
N. R. Ellis, R. Harrison, W. Williamson.
John Burke, John Craven and Joseph
Thaw, who were department people; Dr.
G. Cozens, William O’Neale, Jr.; Nathan
Moore, Robert Frazier, Fred Phillips,
Abraham and Matthew Hines, Thomas
Herbert, S. Sandiford, William O’Neale,
Joseph Brumley, George Walker, John
Rawlings. J. M. Maus, William Godfrey,
Aaron Nalley, Julius Watkins, W. Worth
ington, Thomas Sandiford, John David
son, W. Anderson, Jr.; James Lowry,
Thomas Crown, James Williams, J. B.
Timberlake, James Baker, James A. Ken
nedy. John Kennedy, W. Llnkins, James
Sandiford, Jesse Baker, J. L. Crosby,
Benjamin Strong, W. Worthington, Jr.;
S. Harkness, Jr.; A. C. Moore, John
Thompson, John Williams, L. Brengle,
John Barcroft, John Burke, John Rich,
Eastern Market, Seventh and C streets Southeast, erected in 1873.
remained among us, a bright example
of every virtue. The hand of death
has removed her to a purer and hap
pier state of existence; and while we
lament her loss, let us endeavor to
emulate her virtues."
whose charter was granted December
38, 1837, or Just 110 years ago, met for
a while over this old Western Market
House, and its records give us about the
best account to be found of this old
building. The earliest records of this
Western Market, Twenty-first and K streets northwest. Construction begun in 1873. Site to be occupied by a Federal dormitory.
"As the hall of the old Union Fire
Company, whose apparatus was housed
on the market floor at the west end. It
was widely known. Among those who
prior to 1830 were often participants inc
The old Center Market in the hone and buggy days.
M. J. N. Water*, L. Lepreux, John
Palmer, 8. R. Waters, W. Ford, W. Bur
ket, John Mattingly, James Hodnett,
Thomas Cook and James Watson.”
Testimonial Meeting
A meeting of more than passing im
portance was held in this old building
In 18S2, when the people gathered there
for the purpose of taking action on the
death of Mrs. Marcia (Burnes) Van Ness,
wife of John P. Van Ness and the hand
some and wealthy daughter of David
Mrs. Van New died on the morning
of September 9 of that year, during her
husband’s administration as Mayor of
Washington, and on the evening of her
death the meeting in the Western Town
Hall took place, when It was resolved
that a resolution bo drawn up and a
plate executed, and which, as afterward
Inscribed, road:
“The CMtisens of Washington
In testimony of their veneration for
Departed Worth, Dedicate this
Plate to the Memory of
The excellent consort of
J. P. Van Ness.
If piety, charity, high principle and
exalted wfcrth could have averted the
ahafts of Pate, she would still have
The funeral was held from 8t. John's
Church, Sixteenth and H streets, and
Rev. William Hawley, the rector, con
ducted the aervices, in which, in part,
he said; —
"The old cottage house, in which she
was bom and in which her beloved
parents ended their days, was an ob
ject of her deep veneration and regard
—a true token of genuine filial affec
tion—of undying love for the memory
of departed parents, which dutiful chil
dren wiU always cherish to their latest
breath. In this humble dwelling, over
whose venerable roof wave the branches
of trees planted by her dear parents
and now stretching forth their kindred
boughs to shelter it from the pelting
storm, she had selected a secluded apart
ment, with appropriate arrangements
for solemn meditation, to which she
often retired and spent hours in quiet
solitude and in holy communion with
God and Saviour."
Mrs. Van Ness was buried in the fam
ily burial plot, on H street between
Ninth and Tenth streets, south side,
then and for many years afterward
known as Mausoleum Square, but later
her body, together with those of other
members of her family, was removed to
Oak Hill Cemetery
Hiram Lodge, No. 10, F. A. A. M.,
lodge are missing, but the minutes, dated
January 14, 1848, say: “At a regular
meeting of Hiram Lodge, No. 10, held
at their lodgeroom over Market House,
City of Washington.” The lodge's ac
count then continues, saying:
"Then follows a list of members pres
ent and a brief account of the instal
lation of officers with W. B. Magruder
as master. The ‘room over the Market
House,' known as the Town Hall, was
the second home of Hiram Lodge. Its
first meeting, in 1827, was held in the
‘Eastern Edifice of the Seven Buildings.’
The ‘Seven Buildings’ were erected on
lots 1 and 4, square 118, Pennsylvania
avenue between Nineteenth and Twen
tieth streets. The house referred to as the
■Eastern Edifice’ was the comer build
ing and was owned in the 20s by Miss
Margaret Freeman. The row was buUt
by Greenleaf, Morris & Nicholson
about 1799.
“Before 1800 that portiqp of Wash
ington in the neighborhood of Pennsyl
vania avenue and Twentieth street was
the scene of some building operations.
The fact that the ground valuation north
of the avenue was 25 cents a foot and
that by 1802 buildings had been erected
on all the lots fronting on I street be
tween Twentieth and Twenty-first
streets save one shows that the property
owners were enterprising. West of this
point but six buildings had been erect
ed, end on the squares eastward were
seven buildings on the Avenue and some
improvements had been made on Z
•The locality gained in Importance In
1803, when the West Market was estab
lished on the northwest corner of the
triangle made by the lines of the Avenue,
Twentieth street and I street. The ap
paratus of the Old Union Fire Company
was located there the following year.
In fact, it may be said that at the pe
riod in the early part of the last cen
tury, when the Irish poet bestowed the
title of ‘City of Magnificent Distances'
on Washington, this section possessed
some of the characteristics of a small
town. There was the well-known O’Neal
Tavern, a wood yard, several groceries,
blacksmith and wheelwright shops and
shoe shops within a few hundred yards
of Twentieth and I streets, where, in
1803. was located the West Market, with
its Town Hall for meeting purposes.
Within a short time after Its formation
Hiram Lodge found quarters in this
Town Hall and continued to meet there
until 1848.
“A brief description of this old build
ing has been furnished by Brother
James H. Bryam, who as a boy was
familiar with this section of the city.
It was located on the triangular plot of
ground bounded by Pennsylvania avenue,
I street and Twentieth street, and faced
upon the last named street. It was con
structed of wood, two stories high, with
a bell tower over the front gable, and
resembled somewhat in appearance tha
old engine house now located at the
southeast comer of H and Nineteenth
streets, A flag pole projected at a slight
Link ins, John J. Pfll, Georgs Pfluger,
Louis P. Repp. Schafer it Oo , Shafer it
Botch, Andrew D. Sheel, Robert Smith,
William H. Smithy, Conrad 8ohl, Thomas
Weaver, Thomas Wright and John E.
The butter and cheese dealers were:
T. A. Ball, John Bateman, J. H. Caldwell,
Andrew Carroll, Joseph C. Pearson,
Lewis E. Prank, Isaac S. Gray and Wil
liam H. Walker.
Produce dealers: Marie Briggs. Edward
H. Clements, William Cross, John Pul
behe, G. J. Mall, John S. Hill. W. W.
Hough, Levi Kid well. James Lalontaine,
August Miller, Richard E. Sinclair,
Thomas H. Smith and Henry Whalon.
Provision dealers—Bayliss & Scott,
Latimer Eli, J. Goetainger, P. McKeys,
P. Melhorn, John K. Pflel, John T.
Rabbitt, T. H. Smith and James Wallace.
Washington has always been a good
city for markets, and a century ago, and
even more recently, the East had its
Eastern Market and the North its North
ern Market, and in the more populous
part of the city there was the Center
or Marsh Market, the latter's official
name for years being the Washington
The Eastern Market still stands at
Seventh and C streets S.E.. where it was
opened in 1873, the year it was completed.
It is a large brick structure and still
maintains a considerable patronage, and
as Its neighborhood Is a residential one,
the people residing In that part of the
city would hardly know how to get along
without It. When the market was first
erected the farmers and truckers who
had their stands outside the building
were subjected to falling weather until
the late William T. Bright, after consid
erable effort, had the city government
erect protecting sheds around the struc
ture. Mr. Bright died a few years ago
at the age of 93. after having resided on
Capitol Hill for 70 yean. His two da ugh
Tames Cardinal Gibbons Praised American Civil Liberties
and died that America aalsht live; men see
women who made Amariea treat br eootrlb
utlnt their own ereatneea to a eountp which
wa* founded eno hai endured on the
ei»S»» of life, liberty end thjcurtuitof h«
m«a at the rttht of ever* man. xn*
rnntn axtlcla In tha aeries will appear
next Sunday. _
By William Agar.
When James Gibbons was born in
Baltimore in 1834 his parents had re
cently come over from Ireland. They
were honest, industrious, but obscure.
Before he reached his 80th year he was
James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of
Baltimore,* loved by fellow citizens of
every creed, adviser of Presidents, n man
to whom the Nation turned Instinctively
for guidance.
After he died the New York Herald
explained his importance very simply:
"Nearly always what he said was what
the mind of America was thinking."
Gibbons always attributed his rise to
fame and power solely to American in
stitutions. and if he gloried over any
accomplishment of his it was only this
—that he lived as he was born, simply,
a man of the people.
Like many another Catholic boy. Gib
bons was drawn to the church from his
youth. He entered the Baltimore Semi
nary at 31. At 34 he was a bishop, the
youngest In the church, and was sent
out immediately as a missionary to
North Carolina.
Always frail, he could eat few things,
so the prospect of unending Journeys
was not too pleasant, but, undaunted, he
at once undertook a tour of his diocese.
It was, perhaps, a lucky chance that
there were few churches and that Cath
olic homes to shelter him were rare
Since that put him in constant touch
with people of different faiths.
Preached in Protestant Church
In Greenville he was welcomed and
taken into the home of a Protestant
physician. He was offered the town hall
in which to preach. But, since the
trustee* of the Methodist Church were
kind enough to put their church *t his
disposal, he chose to hold his service
there and read to them from their own
Bible. It was in thi* spirit that he
went from place to place throughout
the State, rounding up his own sparse
flock, yet, under the circumstances,
preaching mostly to Protestants, dispell
fng prejudice, making friends, until his
biographer could write of him: “There
developed a pride in the youthful prelate,
their own bishop, pre-eminently a man
gf the 'people, mingling with all and
gaining friends everywhere by his rare
graces of manner.”
It is characteristic that once in a little
church in Tidewater, Md., at the height
of the summer heat after the priest
whom he had designated to preach had
completed a discussion of Catholic doc
trine, he, a cardinal by then, arose and
preached another sermon on Christian
unity. Later, in answer to the priest's
question, he said, "Did you not see that
most of the congregation were Protest
His fame grew. After attending the
Vatican Council, and his return to
America, he was made Bishop of Rich
mond. At 43 he became Archbishop of
Baltimore, the senior See in America.
At 53 he was a cardinal, an honor ac
claimed throughout the land since he
was now identified in the public mind
with the welfare of his country. An
honor conferred on him was already an
honor conferred on America.
In 1887 he was in Rome again, this
time to receive the cardinal’s red hat.
He used the opportunity to emphasise
what was nearest to his heart; namely,
the importance to America and to the
church in America of the separation of
church and state.
Throughout Europe at this time Cath
olic and Protestants alike believed that
some form of union between church and
state was necessary. Separation meant
antagonism to them, and many looked
askance at the American system as a
sign of the irreligion of our Government.
“Liberty Without License”
It was not customary for a young
cardinal to make more than a formal
acceptance speech at such a time, but
Gibbons did. He ascribed great prog
ress to the church in America and
praised the civil liberties enjoyed "in our
enlightened States." In his words, “The
civil government holds over us the aegis
of its protections, without interfering
with us in the legitimate exercise of our
sublime mission as ministers of the gos
pel of Christ. Our country has liberty
without license, and authority without
despotism. Separation, he claimed, did
not mean hostility, but protection.
The Knights of Labor, the first power
ful American workingmen's union, grew
in importance during the difficult years
that followed the Civil War. Already
the Canadian Hierarchy had condemned
the organisation as a secret society seek
ing to aboMah religion and the Congre
gation of the Holy Office in Rome had
sustained the condemnation. Many
American bishops concurred, since they
feared the revolutionary tendencies of
the knights. But the young cardinal
did not fear them. He feared rather
that the church should appear as the
oppressor of the poor.
After conferring with President Cleve
land and assuring hlrfiself that the
Knights were In no way unpatriotic, he
succeeded in winning many bishops to
his point of view and determined to
take the matter to Home. But no one
believed he could affect the decision of
of the holy office. It was impossible; It
had never been done before.
The details of his campaign are un
important now. He persevered. His
letter to Cardinal Simeonl is one of the
great charters of the labor movement.
His advice finally prevailed and the con
demnation was withdrawn. Thus was
a mistake corrected, a mistake that
could have set back the labor movement
throughout the world; and the seed the
cardinal had sown blossomed shortly In
Pius XI's Immortal encyclical, "The
Reconstruction of the Social Order.”
At this time, also, the ever-increasing
number of immigrants from Catholic
Europe who remained in the Eastern
seaboard cities favored the development
of national groups. These groups tended
to establish their own churches and to
bring over their own priests with closer
ties to Europe than to America—a fact
that was obviously dangerous to the
church and which prepared the way for
the growth of powerful political units.
Gibbons believed one of the duties of
the church was to Americanize and
absorb these people; insofar as this has
been accomplished, it was due largely to
his efforts. When Archbishops Ireland
and Spaulding sought to colonize the
Midwest with Irish from the Eastern
slums. Cardinal Gibbons was one of
the few Eastern prelates who helped
them. Yet men were being lost to the
Jarrux Cardinal Gibbon».
church, indeed to civilisation, because
of the conditions under which they
lived, conditions which Archbishop
Spaulding of New York condemned in
lurid terms.
"The description," he wrote, "given
by sanitary Inspectors of these habita
tions would soil a page intended for all
eyes. People who live in this atmos
phere and among these surroundings
must drink. The perfectly sober would
die from mere loathing of life."
But America was making money.
Cheap labor was useful. So the attempt
failed. But Gibbons and his few fellow
churchmen were right. The cancer
spread. America woke up one day to
discover herself infested with the gang
sters bred in the slums she had been too
short-sighted to clean up.
President Theodore Roosevelt said
there was only one publie man with the
courage to speak the truth on all oc
casions and that man was Cardinal Gib
bons. For the Cardinal decried the
voices of America as fervently as he
praised the American way.
No man has ever been so outspoken
without making enemies. Because of
his eminence in the church and his
friendship with the President, Gibbons
was accused of seeking to control
America. His declarations of Catholic
loyalty were sneered at as Catholic
wiles, as a screen to hide his true in
tentions. But President Cleveland de
fended him and the mutterings of his
detractors were of no importance com
pared to the acclaim that came to him.
He had proved by his life that in order
to be a good Catholic in America one
must also be a good American.
He was not called upon to lay down
his life for his country. He left behind
no words to stir the pulse of patriots.
But he loved America and believed in
her. His religion was a practical thing.
His life was a life of action. In his
presence prejudice grew dim and man
learned to understand his fellow man.
Because of him America drew closer to
her Ideal.
He died in the city of his birth. The
bell in the City Hall toiled once for
each year of his life. City courts were
suspended. The Legislatures of New
York and Delaware adjourned. Ex
Presldent Taft declared that he be
longed not to the church alone, but to
the world at large.
It was the Governor of Maryland who
told us why the Cardinal was Important
to the American Idea; what we can
learn from him today. The Governor
said; "He has broken down many bar
riers between men."
Northeast corner of the old Center Market, removed in 1931,
site of the National Archives Building.
angle from the front of the tower. The
lower atory was used as a market, and
the supper story as a hall, which was
reached by a flight of outside stairs ex
tending from the sidewalk. On these
stairs, regardless of the weather, the
candidates were obliged to wait, until
wanted inside.”
But as to the first Western Market,
this building was destroyed by Are on
February 1, 1852, and Hiram Lodge lost
heavily in its records, furnishings and
paraphernalia. William Serrin was at
this time clerk of the market.
In 1855, we And that what remained
standing of “the old unsightly mar
ket house” was pulled down to make
room for an angular Inclosure of Iron
K Street Market
Soon afterward the debris was re
moved. a market house was located on
K street between Nineteenth and Twen
tieth streets N.W., where William Walker
was clerk, the commissioners of the mar
ket for 1860 being William Brown and
Andrew Carroll. The clerk received for
his service an annual salary of $500 and
the stalls rented for $40 for the same
Early Market People
In looking over a city directory for
1867. the writer found the following
butchers with stalls at the Western
Market: Theodore Barnes, George L.
Botsch Si Co., William Chase, Thomas
Cissell, John E. Cole, George Davidson,
Peter Dill, G. W. Dutton, George W.
Emerson, Bernard Geier, John Fister,
Michael Gore, J. H. Hazel. Robert Hen
sey. Charles Homlller, Thomas Johnson,
Joseph Kuhns, Bernard Lauer, William
tars. Miss Emma A. Bright and Miss
Louise Bright, sttli reside in tha old
homestead at 235 Eighth street S.E.
The Eastern Market was probably tha
outgrowth of the Navy Yard or Eastern
Branch Market, said to have been located
on R street between Fifteenth and Six
teenth streets S.E.. which is evidently an
error, since there is no such location thia
side of the Eastern Branch. However,
before moving to the present site, it was
located at Fifth and K streets S.E.
The Northern Marketr-or the Northern
Liberty Market, by which name it was
generally known—was erected in 1848
in Mount Vernon Square, where is now
the main building of the Public Library.
Permission to erect the market house
here was granted by James K Polk, and,
with its subsequent additions, it re
mained in this spot until by order of
“Boss" Shepherd, it was torn down in
1872. Naturally, this resulted in quit*
a hardship to many of the market people,
who erected temporary sheds, stalls and
stands in Corcoran Square, on O street
between Sixth and Seventh streets N.W.,
which tided over the situation until
market buildings were erected at Seventh
and O streets and Fifth and K streets.
The Center Market, which stood until
a decade ago south of Pennsylvania ave
nue between Seventh and Ninth streets,
was the first market house erected in
Washington. Its first site was near the
White House, in the President’s Square,
and what there was of it—and that was
very little—was removed to the sit* where
now stands the National Archives Build
ing, in 1802. Here many important
people, Including Senators, Representa
tives, cabinet officers, foreign diplomats,
did there own marketing, and although
President William Henry Harrison lived
but a month after taking the oath of
office, yet during this time he was fre
quently seen making purchases of meats
and vegetables for the White "House table.

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