A Community Exploring Its Past
While most Americans probably think of Capitol Hill as simply the site of the U.S. Capitol, those who live here know it as an old and thriving residential neighborhood, a small town within a large city. The Overbeck Project captures the history of this community by recording the recollections of its longtime residents and preserving other records of its fascinating past.
Project volunteers collect and transcribe interviews for posting on this site. We also sponsor a highly successful lecture series exploring our city's history. We urge you too to get involved in this exciting effort, sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation.
The Overbeck Project was founded 12 years ago to collect oral histories from longtime Capitol Hill residents and former residents. Our interests have diversified in the meantime, but that's still our primary effort. Recently, we've added full transcripts of interviews with these people whose lives and work have added to the rich history of this neighborhood: Maurine Phinisee, who came to Washington in response to an appeal from Eleanor Roosevelt during World War II and who later ran Tri-Way Service ornamental iron works at 1000 First Street SE; the late Alexander Pope, Jr., who spent his entire life running the Alexander Pope Funeral Home in SE Washington and other locations; and Kris Swanson and Roy Mustelier, 2011 Community Achievement Awardees, who founded and manage the nonprofit Corner Store in their home at 900 South Carolina Avenue SE.
Four other newly posted transcripts all feature people with connections to Eastern Market, so they are also listed on the Eastern Market Voices page: Leon Calomiris and Mel Inman, Jr., both members of multi-generational vendor families in the Market's South Hall; Parker Jayne, whose interview covers many aspects of neighborhood life, helped arrange for the musicians that helped draw weekend crowds to the Market in the summers following the 2007 fire; and Larry Monaco, born and raised on Capitol Hill, who served as Capitol Hill Restoration Society President twice during the years when important decisions were made about the Market's survival.
A special Black History Month event, co-sponsored by the Overbeck Project and Capitol Hill Village, was held February 23, 2013, to commemorate the 50th anniversary year of the 1963 March on Washington. Further details are available on our Recent News page, and a full description of the event, including photos, appears in Capitol Hill Village's newsletter for March, 2013.
Still Collecting Memories of the March. The Feb. 23 event is over, but the Overbeck Project's special page devoted to Memories of the March remains. We continue to welcome submission of individual memories of the 1963 March using our online form, and we invite everyone to read the memories that have been submitted. Each of those stories reflects what one individual saw and felt on August 28, 1963, when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made his "I Have a Dream" speech to an unprecedented crowd that had gathered on the Washington Mall. Relatives and friends of those who need assistance are welcome to post on the other person's behalf.
The Overbeck Project has gone into publishing, with a wonderful new book by Washington writer Mary Z. Gray describing the Capitol Hill of her 1920s childhood. Go to the Overbeck History Press page to learn more about 301 East Capitol: Tales From the Heart of the Hill.
Born in 1919, Mary Gray grew up above her family's inherited funeral home at 301 East Capitol (a building owned today by the Folger Shakespeare Library) and was a regular contributor to The Washington Post, The New York Times and other publications for over half a century. Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson calls her "one of the funniest raconteurs I know." Her book is available at local shops and at Amazon.com.
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|The Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project, Washington, D.C.|