After four years of effort, ten transcripts of interviews done in the 1970s are now part of the Overbeck Project collection that we share with the world through this website. Collectively, these interviews provide an amazing glimpse into many corners of Capitol Hill in the early 20th century; several of the interviewees were born in the 19th century.
Many thanks go to Paula Causey and Hazel Kreinheder for their conscientious efforts to prepare and edit these files, and to Christine D'Alessandro for transcription of one interview. The interviews were done as part of the effort to gain Historic District status for the neighborhood, a task led by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. To support the application process, Project namesake Ruth Ann Overbeck (then Ruth Ann Perez), Hazel Kreinheder, and Suzanne Ganschinietz, of the D.C. Historic Preservation Office, interviewed long-time residents as a way to gather information about neighborhood buildings and residents.
The ten interviews, arranged alphabetically by interviewee name, are:
John and Elsie Yost Leukhardt. When the Leukhardts were interviewed in their home near Tenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Mrs. Leukhardt had lived at 1002 Pennsylvania Avenue SE for 80 years. It was originally her parents' home; they, and then she, had had the same telephone number for 70 years. Her father, William Yost, built that house and the four adjoining it, as well as many others in the neighborhood. A member of the Naval Lodge, he also built the lodge building at 330 Pennsylvania Avenue SE where the Overbeck Lectures are held. The updated transcript includes links to a wonderful 1920 photo of the 1000 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE and to a page of Yost family photos.
John and Elsie Miller. John Miller was born in 1910 and lived in the Navy Yard neighborhood for most of his life. Twice, he saw his home demolished: the house where he was born, at First and N Streets SE, fell to expansion of the Navy Yard during World War I. Another childhood home at 1216 I Street SE, where he and his wife later lived, was torn down in the 1960s when Potomac Gardens was built. Read this transcript for references to local businesses, streetcar routes, long-gone locations like Poplar Hill, Southeast Gardens, Pipetown, and descriptions of working class life.
Nellie May Morton. Mrs. Morton, nee Sweet, was born in 1897. She provides extensive information about the Bradburn Memorial Methodist Church, founded in 1890 in the 1300 block of L Street SE, and about many homes on I, K, and L Streets SE, between 12th and 15th Streets. (The linked file includes some photos; this version with no photos may be easier to load.)
Freda Murray. Freda Murray also stayed within the same few blocks her whole life, the area near Tyler School. She was born on the east side of the 700 block of Tenth Street SE around 1893, when the original school faced 11th Street around the block from her home. She, her children, and a grandchild all attended school in that building. By the time of the interview, she lived at 761 Tenth Street SE, on the west side of the street, and the site of her former home had become the Tyler playground when the new school was built. This short transcript contains fascinating information about that immediate area of Capitol Hill.
Dr. Herbert Ramsey was interviewed because of his involvement in the Eastern High School alumni association, from which he graduated in 1912. Much of the lengthy interview consists of his recollections about people on lists of alumni events attendees. People he knew through his membership in Epworth Church are also discussed. This is a treasure trove of addresses and names.
Dr. Clarence Rice was also interviewed in 1977 after being recommended by his Eastern classmate Herbert Ramsey. The initial focus of the interview was Congressional Cemetery, but the conversation covered many other topics, including memories of the neighbors in his neighborhood south of Lincoln Park along Kentucky Avenue and other boyhood memories of life in the first decade of the 20th century.
Mr. and Mrs. Norman Schroth. Born in 1905, Norman Schroth spent his whole life in the vicinity of Seventh Street and Maryland Avenue NE. The interview discusses other people and businesses in the immediate area and also further west near Stanton Park and Union Station. Readers will be interested to read which "local politician" was residing, at the time of the interview, in a home created from a smokehouse that Mr. Schroth's father had built for his meat processing business.
Milton Sladen. Milton Sladen was born in 1900. At the time he was interviewed, he lived at 120 11th Street SE, in a house occupied by his family for 67 years. The interview provides fascinating details of the residents, houses, and businesses in the Lincoln Park area and elsewhere through the first two-thirds of the 20th century
Florine Walker Walther. The oldest of these interviewees was born Florine Walker in 1887, at 420 B Street NE. Her father, Major Samuel Walker, was a prominent builder, investor, and (briefly) the police chief for DC; excerpts from articles written about him are included in the transcript. He converted his own house into a grand dwelling (a picture is included in the transcript), and he built many other houses in the area around Fifth Street and Constitution Avenue NE.
The final document of this series is a short two page summary of a 1974 discussion with Minnie Lee White, at the time a resident of the 1300 block of Massachusetts Avenue SE for 42 years. She was a close friend of the woman who sculpted the suffragette statue now in the Capitol Rotunda.
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