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Who's Who At the Overbeck Project

Dozens of Capitol Hill residents contribute their time and talents to make this all-volunteer project a success. Here are just some of them ...


Bernadette and Jim McMahon raised their family on Capitol Hill and have long been active here with St. Peter's Church, the Boy Scouts and other community efforts. Bernadette is retired from a career as a chemist with the Food and Drug Administration, and works now as a consultant in data base development. Jim, an American history buff, served as an attorney for a number of government agencies and congressional committees.


John Franzén, our Steering Committee chairman, ran his own media consulting and production company in Washington for three decades and serves now as senior communications officer for The Pew Charitable Trusts. A resident of Capitol Hill since 1973, he conducted the interviews with Ruth Ann Overbeck that led to the founding of this project.

Nicky Cymrot is president of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, which funds and supports this project. She has co-owned a real estate rental and development business on Capitol Hill since the 1960s, headed the creation of Hill Center, and supported numerous other community organizations and projects.

Stephanie Deutsch, a writer who contributes frequently to Voice of the Hill and the book review sections of the Washington Times and the New York Times, is a board member of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation. She and her husband David are native Washingtonians and longtime residents of Capitol Hill, where they've raised three children.

Robert Hughes was Ruth Ann Overbeck's husband and worked with her on many of her historical research projects and neighborhood preservation efforts. An accomplished artist and active member of the Capitol Hill community, he manages the Scholars Program of the American Chemical Society.

Lucinda Janke, collections manager at the D.C. Historical Society and a longtime resident of the Hill, provided critical assistance in the launching of our lecture series. She’s the co-author, along with Ruth Ann Overbeck, of “William Prout, Capitol Hill’s Community Builder,” in Coming Into the City, Essays on Early Washington, D.C.

Nancy Metzger, who also chairs our Search Committee, has been intensively involved for many years in Capitol Hill community improvement and historic preservation efforts. She recently spearheaded the successful effort to have the Capitol Hill Historic District extended down 8th Street to the Navy Yard.


Nancy Metzger chairs our Search Committee, which identifies prospective interviewees in the neighborhood and links them up with our interviewers. She's the author of Brick Walks and Iron Fences, a guide to walking tours of Capitol Hill, and former chair of the Historic District Committee. Before the Overbeck Project was founded, she was already recording oral histories in the neighborhood with the support of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.

Stephanie Deutsch, a Capitol Hill writer, also serves on our Steering Committee (above) and is currently at work on a biography of businessman and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. She's a board member of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation and chairs its Grants Committee.

Bonny Wolf heads our effort to record the recollections of longtime merchants at Eastern Market, the last surviving facility of its kind in the city. Bonny has been a writer, reporter and editor for nearly thirty years, and is working now on a book about food in the lives of George and Martha Washington.


John Franzén coordinates the Overbeck History Lectures, held four times a year at Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Avenue S.E.). If you have suggestions for future topics or speakers, please contact him at franzen80@franzenco.com.


Elizabeth Lewis is coordinating a special effort by our volunteers to record the recollections of merchants, outdoor vendors, public officials and other individuals connected with Eastern Market, documenting the survival and rebuilding of the beloved Hill landmark in the wake of the 2007 fire. A former congressional speechwriter, Elizabeth has lived on the Hill with her husband David Abernathy for over 20 years and has served on the board of the Capitol Hill Day School, which their two children attended.


Christine Mackey of Hunt Smith Design manages our web site. Hunt Smith Design is a full-service graphic design firm headquartered on Capitol Hill.

Special thanks to Rick Hamecs, who managed this site for its first eight years of operation. We greatly appreciate his time and effort.

Heather McKay did our web site's graphic design. She is president and co-owner of Cambigue Design, a full-service design studio specializing in website development.


Peter Bartis, a longtime Capitol Hill resident, is a folklife specialist at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. He authored the Center's widely used how-to manual, Folklife and Fieldwork, and manages their Veterans History Project (www.loc.gov/folklife/vets).

Renee Braden, a professional archivist, directs the National Geographic Society's in-house oral history project. She's been active for years in Hill preservation efforts and is helping us plan and organize our archival systems.

Maygene Daniels is the head archivist at the National Gallery of Art and our senior adviser on archival issues. She and her husband Steve have raised their family on Capitol Hill and have long been active in community volunteer efforts.

Megan Rosenfeld shares her skills as an interviewer with Overbeck Project volunteers during our training and orientation sessions. A longtime Hill resident, she conducted thousands of interviews during her thirty years at the Washington Post.

John M. Vlach is a professor of American studies and anthropology at George Washington University. He has curated exhibitions for the National Museum of American History and a number of other major institutions and has authored ten books, including Charleston Blacksmith and The Afro-American Tradition in Decorative Arts.

Paul K. Williams, president of Kelsey & Associates, investigates the history of people's homes and has made himself an expert on the history of D.C. He helps our volunteers track down previous owners of their houses in order to record their recollections of life there in years gone by. (http://washingtonhistory.com/.

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    The Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project, Washington, D.C.