Presentation:  

George Didden
Spring Distinguished Washingtonian Lecture
The Historical Society of Washington, DC

Date:   Wednesday, May 24, 2000
Where:   Heurich Mansion
 
   
 
   

Introduction : The Carry and the Didden families together weaved many threads in the tapestry we know as the history of our Nation's Capitol over almost the entire length of its rich continuum, and continue to add chapters each and every day.

I thought this evening we would concentrate on my father's ancestors in Washington . My mother was a Stoutenbourgh. Her family dates back to the 1200s when the Stoutenbourgh dynasty was a royal family in Holland .

This is the story of two incredibly productive and successful Washingtonians of German descent who came to Washington after the Civil War. Their collective energy and business acumen substantially shaped our great city, as we know it today. Albert Carry was a self made man, a prominent Washington brewer, real estate investor, banker and philanthropist. Mr. Carry hired Clement August Didden, a prominent Washington Architect to design buildings to their highest and best use on corners all over downtown to house National Capital Brewing Co.'s many wholly owned pubs. The building in which we celebrate Washington 's history tonight is testament to the profitability of a pint of liquid bread at the turn of the century. On May 24, 1905 (exactly 95 years ago today), the Brewer's oldest daughter Marie married the Architect's oldest son, George. These were our paternal grandparents.

After the end of the Civil War, Washington began many memorial projects, the Capitol was expanded the Washington Monument was under construction, and bridges, roads and public buildings were also underway. A number of German Americans came to Washington as artisans for these projects and work was plentiful. It was natural for them to live on Capitol Hill to be near their places of employment. In fact, DC's German population never exceeded 8% according to Dingle's Multicultural History of Washington . Capitol Hill was the center of German activity at the turn of the century and could be described as a German enclave.

Albert Carry :

Born: February 17, 1852 in Hechingen, Germany a small town just southwest of Stuttgart close to the borders of Switzerland and Austria .

At the ripe old age of 14 years, Albert left home as a young apprentice in the venerable German brewing industry.

He immigrated to America attracted by its great freedoms and alluring business opportunities.

In 1872 census bureau records he resided in Cincinnati, Ohio as brew master for the famous John Houch brewery there at the ripe old age of 20.

While in Cincinnati, he met and married Wilhelmina Bock, a good beer name. They had 10 children together, seven of whom survived into adulthood. Two of the non-survivors were named Pauline giving a special meaning to the phrase perils of Pauline in my family.


Carry Family Photo

By 1886, Albert and his family had moved to Washington, perhaps recognizing a golden business opportunity to serve Washington 's rapidly growing German population.

Albert hired a fellow named Didden to design a mansion at 12th and B streets SE to accommodate his large family.

Slide 2- Carry Mansion


Carry family mansion on corner of B and 12th Streets S.E.
 

Albert and Anna Carry
 

Slide 3. & 4 Albert & Anna & Marie

 

 

Annie
Albert and Anna Carry's daughter Marie C. Didden
 
Mr. Carry also purchased a farm to grow his hops and breed his horses. The farm doubled as the family's summer home. It was named “Red Gables” and located in nearby Suitland, Maryland .

 


Red Gables - taken by eminent domain by the census bureau in 1941, burned in 1955

In that same year, Mr. Carry purchased Humphrey & Juenemann's brewery and beer garden that was located near the U.S. Capitol on 4th Street, NE between E & F for the huge sum of $90,000. Mr. Carry sold Juenemann's in 1892 for $400,000, (a 444% profit in just 6 years!), to a group of Washington investors who formed the Washington Brewery. His reasons for seeking a buyer became spectacularly apparent when in 1891 he formed the National Capital Brewing Company in partnership with Robert Portner of the Alexandria Brewing Company.

The National Capital Brewing Company opened to headlines in the Washington Star on Saturday, July 25th 1891 . The headlines read " A Big Brewing Establishment". Big indeed, the Brewery occupied the entire city block on Southeast Capitol Hill, bounded by 13th Street, D Street, Kentucky Avenue and South Carolina Avenue . The main brewing building was 135 ft. tall, not including the flag towers, 94 feet wide and 137 ft. deep. A substantial stables and a huge icehouse operation flanked the building. On opening the brewery had nine large wagons pulled by 30 "Percheron" horses. The ice house was powered by two, 80 horsepower, steam engines and could produce 50 tons of ice running at maximum. The brewery's output capacity was a staggering 100,000 barrels annually. Since a barrel contained about 30 gallons, the brewery produced and sold more than 24 million pints of beer in its heyday.

 

Golden Eagle, Diamond and Capuchine beers

Albert Carry was also very active in the real estate business through Albert Carry Properties, purchasing corners and installing pubs all over the area to "cut out the middle man" and sell his products directly to the public. Carry Properties which exists to this day, at one time owned much of the prime property in what is now known as the Central Business District of our City, more about this later.

Mr. Carry was very active in several Sanger bunds. These were German fraternal societies. As an active member, he sang at many of their events. He was also a founder and early director of American Security & Trust Company, but legend has it that he was irritated having to get in the horse and buggy and trot all the way down to American Security's Main Office at 15th and Penn., NW to make his deposits, so in 1889 he gathered a group together including, Mr. Simpson - the local dairy owner, Mr. Marlow the local coal company operator, Mr. Herrill- a real estate investor, Mr. Donohoe - a realtor and a number of others including Mrs. Genevieve Yeager one of Washington's earliest bank shareholders, and together they founded The National Capital Bank of Washington.

Our father, George A. Didden, Jr. was an attorney who graduated from Catholic University in 1929 with a double major in Law and in Chemistry. He established a private law practice specializing in family and commercial law in the Carry Building at the Southeast corner of 15th and K Streets, NW. Through the graces of his grandfather, Riggs Bank was one of his clients and so was National Capital Bank. After 11 years of active practice, he agreed to become a member of the NCB Board and when the President died, he agreed to take his place at the age of 33. He remained President and Chairman of the Board for 52 years until his death in 1995. His four sons now constitute the senior management of the Bank, but that's another story.

NCB has been operating successfully from the same block on PA. Ave., SE for the last 111 years. I brought a collage done by our good friend Ruth Ann Overbeck, god rest her soul. I hope there is one for each of you. It tries in pictures and words to tell the story of the oldest bank with its home office still in our city. Ruth Ann also wrote a 100 -year history of our Bank for our Centennial in 1989, a copy of which resides in the library in this building. I brought a second copy tonight in the hopes that it too can become part of your Archives. You know how people are always forgetting to return borrowed books.

The passage of the Volstead Act in 1917 and Prohibition must have been a bitter pill for the Carry Family, however undaunted, and with I am sure foreboding foresight, the Carrys, like many family brewers in the same situation throughout the United States, converted the brewery to an Ice Cream Company in 1914. The Carry Manufacturing Company sold Carry's Ice Cream with great success until, to avoid capital gains tax, Mr. Carry sold it to Meadow Gold in 1918.


Carry Ice Cream Stationery

The architect, Clement Auguste Didden was born in 1837 in Brakel, Hoxter, Westfalen , Germany, a little north of Hechingen. Following in his forefathers' footsteps, he was educated in the Holzminden School of Architecture in Minden Germany . In 1862, at the age of 25, Clement went to London to pursue his craft from whence he was sent to Cape Town South Africa, to design municipal installations and then houses for the wealthy German diamond merchants. In 1866, he immigrated to New York City where he met and married Marie Klenck, the daughter of the then Surgeon General of the German Army, who perhaps sensing what was to come, sent each of his three daughters to America. They had four children one of whom was my grandfather, George Anton Didden.

Clement went to work for the soon to be famous Richard Hunt who as you may know designed New York's Trinity Church, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the base of the Statue of Liberty, Vanderbilt's "Biltmore" and many other prominent buildings. Clement is believed to have worked on some of these magnificent structures. Clement moved to Philadelphia in 1871 to work for another famous firm Fraser, Furness & Hewitt. Hewitt designed the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts, and was a mentor of Louis Sullivan, the father of the skyscraper, who, in turn, was a mentor of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Mr. Didden was sent to help Mr. Fraser open a Washington Office for the firm and while there helped to design the original British Embassy at 18th and N Streets, which later become the famous Golden Parrot Restaurant we all remember from years past.

In 1876, Didden started his own firm by partnering with a Mr. Lauritzen. Together, they provided architectural services for the Danish Ministry, Swiss Counsel General , US Chief Justice Waite, Attorney General George Williams, among many others.

After Lauritzen's death, Clement's son, George Anton formed a partnership, with his father and the firm was one of the most prolific architectural firms in Washington . Literally hundreds of permit applications were filed by their firm, including a number of jobs for the Christian Heurich Family, and Loyola Hall at Georgetown University which was the first home of Georgetown Hospital. The Didden firm had a major influence in the Logan Circle, Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, including George Anton's family residence at 139 12th Street, SE .

Didden Home
The George Anton Didden home at 139 12th Street S.E. which later served as the rectory of Christ Episcopal Church

I was astonished to see a photograph of his entire family in James Goode's wonderful work entitled Capitol Losses.

Clement Didden Family

Fortunately in 1977, a bright young graduate student at GW University named Mary Miller did a research paper on Clement's body of work revealing much of this remarkable architect's career. Here are some slides of just some of his work still standing:

 

Pump House
 

Row house located on 7th Street between E & F, NW now on the current
George Washington Univesity campus, designed by Clement Didden
 

1331 14th Street N.W., designed by Clement Didden

I would like to thank my daughter Amanda for taking most of the slides for this evening's presentation. Amanda has a degree in Architectural Anthropology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and is currently working in historic preservation for Emily Eig's firm "Traceries" here in the Washington Area.

I would like to leave you with the thought that wherever you go in Washington you will be surrounded by the works of Albert Carry, and Clement & George Didden and fortunately, by investments made by American Security and The National Capital Bank of Washington . We are very proud of the fact that NCB was recently rated tops in our area for knowledge of products and quality of service, so if you are looking for a great bank, please see me after the lecture.

Thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of this evening's festivities, and I would be happy to entertain your questions and comments.

 
       
   
This lecture transcript is the property of George Didden and the
Historical Society of Washington, DC. Not to be reproduced without permission.