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Radio Time: Why You Shouldn’t Drink and Drive on a Horse and Wagon

28 Sep

Listen to this!

the location is featured every month on Metro Connection, a local news magazine show on Washington, D.C.’s NPR station, WAMU 88.5.  In each segment (also called the location), I talk about a different D.C. location that has some kind of interesting or offbeat history.

Tune in today Friday, September 28 at 1pm or Saturday, September 29 at 7am.

Today’s radio segment puts the cart before the horse: the blog post that accompanies the story won’t be published on the location until next week.   It also throws the driver out of the cart.  In 1889, when “perambulating coal oil dealer” Samuel Huntress was drunkenly fighting with his employee while simultaneously steering a horse and wagon towards his carriage house in Blagden Alley, he hit the side of a building, was thrown overboard, and died.  120 years later, that same carriage house now belongs to Anna and Dan Kahoe, owner of antique store Good Wood, and lovers of DC industrial architecture.  You can read more about the history of this property, and see exclusive pictures of the Kahoes’ new digs, next week on the location.

You can listen to the show live or recorded HERE.

To learn more about Dan and Anna’s other fascinating DC property (the Louise Hand Laundry), check out this Washington Post story HERE.

What I’m Reading

16 Aug

Sorry for the long, long break.  I hate to make excuses, but my day job needed attention.  Some fun stuff I read while I was away:

  • Reading: Mustaches, typewriters, landlines, shopping by mail, “videotape machines”, and indoor hammocks are all featured in a look back through old Apartment Life magazines from the 1970’s via Gothamist.  I think this pic is my favorite:

  • Learning: From my work at the Heurich House Museum, I know that sometimes only the strangest set of circumstances keep historic artifacts intact.  This is the subject of Ghosts of DC’s post about Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office on 7th Street NW.  Only re-discovered after a GSA worker noticed something in the ceiling while he was conducting a pre-demolition inspection, the office was once used by the founder of the Red Cross (and my childhood hero) to help families track lost sons and fathers after the Civil War.  For eight years, Ms. Barton operated this office where she received over 60,000 letters from distraught family members and collected supplies.  She closed up shop when she could no longer climb the steps.  The space, which has not been renovated since Barton’s work there, is on its way to becoming a museum.
  • Building: Design*Sponge wants you to build your own neighborhood on paper.  “‘Paper Neighborhood’ is a set of 21 rubber stamps, each depicting a different element of Italianate architecture. Using the basic elements, you can recreate your favorite buildings using just the stamps and ink. Each kit comes with stamps, a stamp pad and a tip sheet packaged in a 1 qt. paint can with a letterpressed label.”  Awesome.

  • Traveling: I am intrigued by the new bikeplanner.org, which does the regular bike route planning, but has the extra bonus of mapping a route using bikeshare.  It will show you the closest place to drop off your bike and whether bikes are available at a dock near you before you plan your trip.  You can also choose the type of route you’d like, from “flattest” and “quickest” to one most necessary for me…”safest”!

New full posts soon.  Promise!

the location on Location: Kansas City’s National WWI Memorial

16 Jul

At the end of June, after months of opposition by local D.C. officials, Texas Representative Ted Poe withdrew his push to turn D.C.’s local World War I Memorial into a national monument.  The 47 foot tall Doric temple, which commemorates District residents who served in the Great War, was the first memorial in West Potomac Park and remains the only District memorial on the Mall.  The memorial was funded by D.C. organizations and citizens, and was dedicated on Armistice Day in 1931.  The cornerstone contains a list of 26,000 Washingtonians who served in WWI, and the names of the 499 who died are inscribed in its base.  The National Park Service recently completed a restoration of the crumbling structure.  If you haven’t visited this tree-shaded spot, you are definitely missing out.

While I fully respect the intentions of Poe (and Frank Buckles, the recently deceased last living US veteran of WWI), it does seem a little strange to create a national WWI memorial.  Because there already is a national WWI memorial museum (which should be the national memorial).  In Kansas City, Missouri.

A visit to the beautiful and thoughtful National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial made me wonder what Poe’s fuss was all about.  Sorry it’s not in DC, but this place is a perfect memorial.  A little history:

Just two weeks after the Armistice, Kansas City leaders met to discuss the need for the creation of a lasting monument to the men and women who had served in the War, and most notably to those who had died…A community-based fundraising drive in 1919, organized and led by the Liberty Memorial Association, raised over $2.5 million in just ten days. This staggering accomplishment for the time reflected the passion of public sentiment for the Great War that had dramatically changed the world. Following the fundraising drive, the Kansas City Chapter of the American Institute of Architects held a national architectural competition to choose a design for the Memorial. The competition resulted in the selected design by architect H. Van Buren Magonigle.

Supreme Allied Commanders of WWI

The site for the Liberty Memorial was dedicated on November 1, 1921. On this day, the supreme Allied commanders spoke to a crowd of more than 100,000 people. It was the only time in history these leaders were together in one place. In attendance were Lieutenant General Baron Jacques of Belgium; General Armando Diaz of Italy; Marshal Ferdinand Foch of France; General John J. Pershing of the United States; and Admiral David Beatty of Great Britain. President Calvin Coolidge delivered the dedication speech to a crowd of 150,000 people…

Over time the physical structure of the Liberty Memorial deteriorated, and in 1994 it was closed due to safety concerns. The Liberty Memorial Association had been collecting objects and documents related to World War I since 1920, and the new museum was envisioned as an inspiring and engaging experience for visitors showcasing the collection, much of which had never been viewed. Prior to the expansion, the institution had only 7,000 square feet to present exhibits. The new museum was built as an 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the art facility. In total, the Liberty Memorial Association raised $102 million dollars for the restoration and expansion. Supporters included the City of Kansas City, the State of Missouri, the United Sates Federal Government, and generous individual donors.

In 2004 the Museum was designated by Congress as the United States’ official World War I Museum, opening to the public on December 2, 2006, as the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial.

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Radio Time: The Peacock Room

28 Jun

Listen to this!

the location is featured every month on Metro Connection, a local news magazine show on Washington, D.C.’s NPR station, WAMU 88.5.  In each segment (also called the location), I talk about a different D.C. location that has some kind of interesting or offbeat history.

Tune in tomorrow Friday, June 29 at 1pm or Saturday, June 30 at 7am.

Before it was packed up and shipped to the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery on the National Mall, the Peacock Room was originally the London dining room of Fredrick R. Leyland, a wealthy shipowner from Liverpool. Leyland had hired interior architect Thomas Jeckyll to design the room as a place to display his valuable collection of Chinese porcelain. As he neared the completion of the room, Jeckyll consulted with painter James McNeil Whistler (who was also working on the house at the time) about some of the final details. Whistler offered to assist in some “minor” paint retouches and finishes. Leyland left London believing the work was basically done. Big mistake for Leyland ($200,000 later, Whistler’s work was complete), but ridiculously gorgeous work of art for the rest of us.

You can listen to the show live or recorded HERE.

To read the original blog post that inspired this week’s show, click HERE.

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Radio Time: T.F. Schneider’s Lucky Legacy

25 May

Listen up!

the location is featured every month on Metro Connection, a local news magazine show on Washington, D.C.’s NPR station, WAMU 88.5.  In each segment (also called the location), I talk about a different D.C. location that has some kind of interesting or offbeat history.

Tune in today Friday, May 25 at 1pm or Saturday, May 26 at 7am.

Since 1894, D.C. developers have been frustrated by the “Height Act”, which restricts them from building higher than the adjacent street is wide.  The law was passed in response to T.F. Schneider’s 194 foot “skyscraper” on Q Street NW, The Cairo, which remains the tallest building in the city.  Schneider is still most famous for this building, but he probably should be more well-known for his crazy brother who killed his own wife and brother-in-law in front of a row of apartments that T.F. also famously built on Q Street. Howard Schneider’s murder trial was the most infamous D.C. had ever experienced at the time, and it is the subject of our story this week.

You can listen to the show live or recorded HERE (the segment is already up for your listening enjoyment).

To read the original blog post that inspired this week’s show, click HERE.

1733 Q Street NW. The site of Howard J. Schneider’s murders.

Hell’s Bottom Beer

24 May

I get many rewards from the location: raising awareness about long-buried D.C. history, the opportunity to creatively express myself, fun radio interviews. But I just got the best reward I could ever imagine. Beer.

This month, DC Brau unveiled a limited release oatmeal stout called “Hell’s Bottom”. This is the awesome logo:

Photo by DC Brau

The description:

Named after one of DC’s most notorious neighborhoods, Hell’s Bottom. Where in the late 1800’s there was little money, whiskey was cheap and virtually no police force. Enter Hell’s Bottom Oatmeal Stout. Brewed with a healthy amount of flaked oats, roasted barley and both chocolate and black malts. Hell’s Bottom starts with a heavy roast character that will definitely wake up the pallet. Followed by a small kick of bitterness contributed by Northern Brewer hops. Lastly, the flaked oats contribute a smooth, cream-like mouthfeel that must be tasted to be understood. With a medium to light body this oatmeal stout is one that drinks easy in the upcoming spring/ summer season.

Now, the beginning of that passage sounds wonderfully similar to my March 18 post about old forgotten D.C. neighborhood names. Can it be that DC Brau got its naming inspiration from the location?!?!? Nothing would make me prouder!!

(The coolness factor of this for me is increased by the fact that I work as Director of Operations for the Heurich House Museum. Heurich was the owner of DC’s most successful brewery. When the Christian Heurich Brewing Company closed in 1956, no other packaging brewery existed in Washington until the opening of DC Brau last April!)

Now I have to go out and try it.

Update: Brandon Skall, owner of DC Brau, has confirmed that, yes, the name of Hell’s Bottom beer came from the location’s post. Best. Day. Ever. Also, I tried it and it’s delicious!

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