Day 94

Logan Circle / Shaw (August 4, 2020)

Back in Logan Circle and Shaw, we were once again joined by Ross along with another dear friend, Maggie, who lives in Shaw.

We started our exploration in the Blagden Alley-Naylor Court Historic District, named after two nineteenth century property owners. It consists of a number of alleys bounded by 9th, 10th, M and O Streets. Today it is the home of a number of trendy restaurants, cafes and bars.

If you are craving a high end cocktail or two we recommend the Columbia Room, a hidden little speakeasy tucked into one of the alleys.

Next to the Columbia Room is one of the District’s highest rated restaurants, The Dabney. We hear that it is very good although we have never been able to get a reservation.

A number of the building have cool murals.

Including this one by local artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer called appropriately, Love.

From the alleys, we made our way west back into the Logan Circle neighborhood. We once again passed the Barbie Pond that we discussed during our last post. We were delighted to see that the display had been updated.

We also crossed 14th street where the John Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church was lit up beautifully by the late afternoon sun.

The sky itself was putting on quite a show.

We passed by the Embassy of Kazakhstan with its statue of the Golden Warrior.

The statue is of a Scythian warrior whose remains were recovered from a burial mound in Kazakhstan in 1969. The warrior was discovered wearing a gold-plated uniform, along with a gold dagger and sword, and pointed headdress with plaques of winged horses with horns, panthers, goats, and other animals. The Golden Warrior has become a symbol of Kazakhstan. The Washington D.C. statue, commemorated in 2006, is a replica of the Golden Warrior featured in the Independence Monument in the Republic square, in downtown Almaty. The legend goes that touching the statue in Almaty can bring you a life of happiness and prosperity. Hence many people, including lots of newlyweds, will come to touch the statue. The Kazakhstan Embassy welcomes you to touch the statue in front of the embassy to see if it similarly enhances your life.

We passed this building which was a little different from the ones we normally see during our walks

We also liked this little row house tucked in at an angle between other buildings.

We also passed the Mary McLeod Bethune house that was the first headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and was Bethune’s last home in the District.

Bethune, the daughter of slaves, went on to become a prominent American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian, and civil rights activist. She founded the NCNW in 1935 and became a national advisor to Franklin D. Roosevelt. It would take too long to recite all of her achievements here. Needless to say, she was a very impressive woman and we recommend spending some time getting to know her story.

We also passed the National City Christian Church on Thomas Circle. The neoclassical church was designed by John Russell Pope and completed in 1930. Apparently, his design was influenced by the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church that sits in Trafalgar Square in London. Certainly, it’s easy to see the resemblance between the two churches. Pope has designed a number of famous buildings around town including the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art. Among the church’s notable members have been two Presidents, Lyndon Baines Johnson and James Garfield.

Having spent some more time exploring Logan Circle we made our way back into Shaw where we passed the O Street Market.

The market now contains a thriving upmarket Giant Supermarket but has gone through some troubled times since it began life as a public market in the 1800s. In particular, the market gained some infamy in the 1990s when it was the site of a shooting. Five men entered the market on March 31, 1994 and fired more than 30 rounds killing one man and wounding eight others.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Shaw we highly recommend the O Street Inn, owned and run by our good friend and neighbor Charlet. It is in a great location and has been totally renovated recently.

We ended our walk back where we started, in the Blagden Alley-Naylor Court Historic District as night was falling. Tucked into the alleys are some cool residences.

As well as the Sundevich sandwich shop

and the Washington DC Archives and Public Records building

Day 93

Logan Circle (July 31, 2020)

This evening we explored Logan Circle, accompanied by our good friend Ross who lives in the neighborhood. Speaking of Ross, we would like to give a shout out to Ross’s parents, Camille and David, who live in England. We are looking forward to seeing them both on this side of the pond again once the current madness ends.

We started at the circle that gives the neighborhood its name. The circle surrounds a massive equestrian statue of John A. Logan, a Union General during the Civil War.

Logan, known as Black Jack by his troops because of his dark hair and eyes, is regarded as one of the Union Army’s most successful generals. He took part in a number of battles and was wounded twice. General Ulysses Grant, in writing to President Lincoln, described Logan as “a most valuable officer and worthy of every confidence . . . There is not a more patriotic soldier, braver man, or one more deserving of promotion.”

The statue, dedicated in 1901, was sculpted by Franklin Simmons and the base was designed by Richard Morris Hunt who has designed a number of prominent American buildings, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The Circle is surrounded by large townhouses including one where Logan actually lived.

Another interesting building on the Circle is The Old Korean Legation building. The building began its life in 1877 as the home of another American Civil War hero, Seth Ledyard Phelps. Phelps was a Union naval officer serving with distinction during the Mississippi River campaigns. He commanded squadrons of gunboats that played key roles in riverboat assaults on Confederate troops during various battles.

The Korean government bought the building in 1891 for $25,000 but did not own it for long. When Japan took power over Korea in 1905, it sold the building for $10 to an American buyer. In 2012, the National Trust for the Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Korea and the Cultural Heritage Administration purchased the building for $3.5 million. The building was renovated and now includes a Korea Garden and a granite “Eternal Youth Gate” also known as bulomun in Korean. The building contains a museum that is currently closed due to the pandemic.

There are a number of beautiful houses, rowhouses and duplexes in the neighborhood.

A number had beautiful front doors.

Some of the coolest places are tucked into the back alleys which where carriage houses once stood. This modern one particularly took our fancy.

Tucked into the same alley was the Kingman Boys and Girls Club which caught our attention with its bright green windows and doors.

The club offers children after school and summer-long daycare, cultural outings and celebrations, athletic and recreational activities, employment opportunities and life-skill workshops. It serves approximately 120 District kids from 6-18 years old.

We liked these brightly colored row houses with their watermelon mural.

Running through the middle of the Logan Circle neighborhood is 14th Street NW, which over the last few years has become one of the District’s hottest night time destinations, with numerous restaurants, bars, cafes, clubs, theaters and stores. Like the rest of the city, the street has been hit hard by the pandemic and many of the venues are currently closed. However, one place that apparently continues to go strong is the French bistro, Le Diplomat. Its terraces were packed. It even had expanded into one lane of an adjacent road.

Just down the block from Le Diplomat is one of Washington’s premier venues for contemporary theatre, the Studio Theatre, which was founded in 1978. The venue has four theatres and over the years, it has won over 72 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in professional theatre. We are not sure if it still does, but The Studio Theatre also used to offer acting lessons. We know this because, back in the nineties, Lauren took a couple of courses at the Studio and performed in a couple of student plays at the venue.

Due to the pandemic, the Studio is not currently showing any performances.

Despite the unpleasantly high heat and humidity that is a feature of the city’s Summer, we don’t often come across tropical plantings. Here is a rare exception.

We like this building with its wall of buddhas.

During our walks we have come across a number of quirky front yard installations but this was definitely one of the quirkiest.

According to Ross, The Barbie Pond on Q Street features a rotating cast of Barbies celebrating different themes depending on the time of the year. Can you guess the current theme? The pond even has its own Instagram page which you can check out at barbie_pond_ave_q.

As the night fell we made our way back through the darkening streets

To our car which was parked on the roof of the local Wholefoods market which by this stage of the night was totally empty.

Day 92

Black Lives Matter Plaza (July 11, 2020)

Today was our shortest walk but also the most powerful. We walked the two blocks of 16th Street that have been renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza.

The plaza was renamed by black Democrat Mayor, Muriel Bowser, on June 5, 2020, after the District Department of Public Works painted the words “Black Lives Matter” in 35-foot yellow capital letters, along with the flag of Washington, DC, on the street, as part of the George Floyd protests. At a later stage, activists added “Defund the Police” in similar letters at the end of the mural.

Lauren’s brother, Howard, and his wife Carolyn have been visiting us from Massachusetts. It was great to have them join us for today’s walk.

At the end of the Plaza is a makeshift fence that cuts off the White House from the surrounding Republic. It also serves as a community message board.

On the corner of the Plaza is St. John’s Episcopal Church. On June 1, 2020, amid the George Floyd protests, police and National Guard troops used tear gas and other riot control tactics to forcefully clear peaceful protesters and create a path for President Trump and senior administrative officials to walk from the White House to the church. Trump did not enter the church but instead stood out front awkwardly holding up a bible to create an infamous photo op. The church is sometimes referred to as the Church of the Presidents as every sitting president has attended the church at least once since it was built in 1816.

Lining the Plaza are stalls selling t-shirts, flags and other souvenirs.

We hope that a safer future awaits this man and his children.

Day 91

Dupont Circle (July 10, 2020)

We started our second day in Dupont Circle at the Circle itself.

The Circle is named after Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803-65) who was a rear admiral in the United States Navy and the nephew of E.I. du Pont, the founder of the du Pont chemical corporation.

At the center of the Circle is a fountain designed by Henry Bacon and sculpted by Daniel Chester French. Bacon and French are also the architect / sculptor team behind the Lincoln Memorial. The basin at the top of the fountain is supported by three allegorical figures, the Arts of Ocean Navigation, representing the sea, the stars and the wind. The nude male figure pictured below represents the wind. He is holding a conch shell to use as a horn and is wrapped in a ship sail.

Speaking of sculptors, walking down Corcoran Street, we noticed that a number of the houses featured sculptures by the local sculptor, John Cavanaugh who we mentioned in a previous post.

We don’t think the sculpture over this door was by Cavanaugh, but it was rather terrifying.

We liked these ferns and railing

And this window box.

There are a number of embassies and chanceries in this part of Dupont Circle, including the Chancery of Mozambique pictured below.

However, unlike the upper northwest part of Massachusetts Avenue which consists almost entirely of embassies, the avenue east of Dupont Circle includes many non-profit organizations, charities, and Think Tanks. Two well-known ones are the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Brookings Institution.

One of the things that we have really enjoyed during our walks is coming across unexpected places and learning the stories of remarkable people. Today, walking down one of the small side streets that run through the neighborhood, we passed by a nondescript row house that, according to a plaque outside, had once been the home of Carl Lutz. Lutz (1895-75) was a Swiss diplomat who at one time lived and worked in the District and attended George Washington University. He served as the Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest, Hungary during World War II and is credited with saving over 62,000 Jews. If you don’t know Lutz’s story, we encourage you to look him up. He was an incredibly brave and extraordinary person. Wikipedia provides the following example of Lutz’s bravery: “One day, in front of fascist militiamen while they fired at Jews, Lutz jumped in the Danube River to save a bleeding Jewish woman. With water up to his chest and covering his suit, the consul swam back to the bank with her and asked to speak to the Hungarian officer in charge of the firing squad. Declaring the wounded woman a foreign citizen protected by Switzerland and quoting international covenants, the Swiss consul brought her back to his car in front of the stunned fascists and left quietly. Fearing to shoot at this tall man who seemed to be important and spoke so eloquently, no one dared to stop him.”

We sometimes come across parks tucked in behind houses, that are probably only known to the locals. Here’s an example.

Here are the 16th street churches of the day.

Also tucked into one of the back streets is the The Keegan Theatre. In 2013, the company purchased the Church Street Theater. After an extensive renovation, the theatre was officially reopened with the play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 2015. The Keegan is now the resident theatre company of Dupont Circle.

Day 90

Dupont Circle (June 30, 2020)

Today we started exploring the Dupont Circle neighborhood. It is a beautiful and diverse urban neighborhood with lots to see. Since the 1970s, it has also been the center of Washington DC’s gay community. Hence, the rainbow street crossing.

Each year the neighborhood hosts the Capital Pride parade and holds the High Heel Race that pits dozens of drag queens against each other in a sprint down 17th street.

The neighborhood consists primarily of ornate and varied row houses, many of which have interesting gardens and art work. Here are some that we particularly liked.

There are also some beautiful apartment buildings. We liked this deco building.

And this ornate building on the Circle itself.

This building had an English feel with its beautiful gardens.

We liked the fact that the residents of this building had co-ordinated their Black Lives Matter message.

Perhaps the building with the most interesting history that we passed was The Cairo.

The Cairo was designed by Thomas Franklin Schneider and completed in 1894. With 12 floors, it towered over the neighborhood when it was built. In fact, its height created such an uproar among local residents that they lobbied Congress to limit the height of future residential buildings in the District. They succeeded and as a result there is still a height limit for buildings within the District. Consequently, the Cairo remains the tallest privately owned building in Washington DC.

Another historic residence that we passed and enjoyed was Whittemor House. It was designed by Harvey Page and built in 1894 and currently is the home of the Woman’s National Democratic Club.

Alongside the house, set in a garden, are some interesting statues by the sculptor John Cavanaugh (1921-85) who had a studio nearby and was known as unofficial Mayor of Dupont Circle.

In our last blog entry we mentioned the intimidating Scottish Rite of Freemasonry lodge that we passed on 16th Street. Little did we know that there would be an even more impressive Scottish Rite lodge just a little further down the same street.

Built in 1915, The House of the Temple, was designed by John Russell Pope, the same architect that designed Meridian House that we discussed in our most recent blog entry. It serves as the headquarters of the Supreme Council, 33 degrees, of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry.  It is modeled after the tomb of Mausolus at Halicarnassus.   We are not quite sure what the Supreme Council gets up to, but they do have an impressive full title which is “The Supreme Council (Mother Council of the World) of the Inspectors General Knights Commander of the House of the Temple of Solomon of the Thirty-third degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonary of the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States of America”.

The building apparently contains a museum devoted to Albert Pike, who rewrote a number of the Scottish Rite rituals and headed its Supreme Council from 1859 until his death in 1891 and whose remains are entombed in the Temple.  Pike has been in the news recently.  On June 20, protestors tore down a statue of him in the District and set it ablaze, because of his association with the Confederacy.

There are a number of impressive buildings along this stretch of 16th Street. The Carnegie Institution for Science was built in 1908 as the administrative building for Andrew Carnegie’s Institute for Discovery. Currently, it can be rented for everything from weddings to scientific programs.

The Edlavitch DCJCC (DC Jewish Community Center) includes a theater, a preschool and spaces for various Jewish cultural and educational programs. It also includes an extensive health and fitness center that is open to Jews and non-Jews alike. It includes an indoor swimming pool and basketball courts where Lauren’s dad used to play as a young man and her mom went to dances.

It wouldn’t be 16th Street unless we also managed to pass by at least a couple of religious establishments. Today we passed the Foundry United Methodist Church

And the Church of Scientology.

Speaking of Scientology, we also passed the L. Ron Hubbard House.

The house was the home of the founder of Scientology from 1955 to 1959 during which time he incorporated the Founding Church of Scientology and performed the first Scientology wedding.

On this beautiful day, with restaurants reopening, there were a number of residents enjoying an outdoor lunch at the restaurants lining 17th and 18th streets. One of the largest and most popular is Lauriol Plaza.

We also passed iconic Kramerbooks, a popular independent bookstore and cafe that, based on a recent newspaper article, may not be at its current location for much longer.

Day 89

Adams Morgan (June 26, 2020)

We started today’s walk in Meridian Hill Park. In many ways it is the quintessential urban park. On the weekends it is an exciting hub, attracting large numbers of local residents who picnic, read, sleep from hammocks hung between the trees, or just enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. Many come to join the large and enthusiastic drum circle that has been taking place in the park on Sunday afternoons for as long as anyone can remember.

The park gets its official name by way of Thomas Jefferson. He believed that the nation’s capital city should set a new American Meridian, a north-south line running through both poles and the American continent. In doing so, Jefferson wanted to reinforce America’s independence from Britain. Surveyors set the new zero degrees Longitude line as running through the White House which is exactly due South of the park.

At a political rally in 1969, activist Angela Davis proposed renaming the park after Malcolm X and it is, indeed, still known by many locals as Malcolm X Park. The park does not include statues of Malcolm X or Angela Davis, but there is a statue of at least one famous activist. A statue of Joan of Arc was gifted by the Ladies of France in Exile to the women of the United States in 1922. It is a bronze copy of an 1889 statue by Paul Dubois that stands at Reims Cathedral in France. In a city full of equestrian statues, it is apparently the only one of a woman on horseback.

The central feature of the park is a 13-basin cascading waterfall. Unfortunately, it always seems to be in need of repair and we can’t recall actually seeing it in use. Hopefully, one day . . .

Continuing our walk through Adams Morgan we passed a number of beautiful apartment buildings and townhouses.

We liked this small overgrown apartment building.

There was something sculptural about the red pipes and meters outside one building.

We passed H.D. Cooke elementary school, a District public school serving approximately 400 students.

Old Cooke
New Cooke

One particularly beautiful building we passed was Meridian House which is the headquarters of the Meridian International Center, a non-partisan, non-profit, public diplomacy organization. The house was designed by American architect John Russell Pope and was built in 1920 for Ambassador Irwin Boyle Laughlin. The property was sold to the Meridian International Center in 1960 with a grant from the Ford Foundation.

The most imposing building we walked by was the Scottish Rite Of Freemasonary Temple on 16th Street.

Day 88

Adams Morgan (June 19, 2020)

Today, we started exploring the heart of Adams Morgan. It’s a little more urban and gritty than neighboring Kalorama. The neighborhood gets its distinctive name from the two formerly segregated area elementary schools. The older black school was named for Thomas P. Morgan, an American writer, editor and poet who lived from 1864 to 1928. The white school was named for John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States. District schools were desegregated in 1955 and the Adams-Morgan Community Council formed in 1958 to implement the desegregation. Historically, the area has been culturally diverse and politically left leaning. However, like the surrounding neighborhoods, since the 1990s, it has become gentrified. It does still retain a degree of diversity, most evident in the array of international shops and restaurants that line 18th Street and Columbia Road.

Community activity, centers around the Marie H. Reed Learning Center which combines an elementary school, health center and community center. The sprawling center, constructed in 1977, is surrounded by tennis and basketball courts, playgrounds, an athletic field and outdoor chess tables. It stands at the spot where the Morgan school once stood. The center is named for Marie Reed, a local African American minister and civic leader who was instrumental in having the old dilapidated school torn down and replaced with the new center.

Adams Morgan’s side streets consist mainly of row houses and low rise apartment buildings.

There are also some great murals.

And some quiet spots to catch up on some reading, do some work or check your emails and texts.

Day 87

Kalorama Triangle / Adams Morgan (June 18, 2020)

Today we enjoyed walking the tree lined streets of Kalorama Triangle.

The Triangle does not have the beautiful embassies and mansions of Kalorama on the other side of Connecticut Avenue. However, it does have more than its fair share of beautiful apartment buildings.

It also has many beautiful and colorful row houses.

Many of the row houses have steps going up to their front doors and basement apartments underneath.

At one stage, we found ourselves crossing the Duke Ellington Bridge and enjoying the views over Rock Creek Park.

We passed by one of the smaller community gardens that we have seen, tucked into the corner of Kalorama Park.

Apparently it’s not just us people who are finding things somewhat overwhelming during these trying times. We came across some seriously depressed cars during the walk. These two appeared to be questioning their very existence.

While this one had a permanent cloud over its head.

Perhaps this little guy we found sitting on the sidewalk could cheer them up, although he looked more than a little grumpy himself.

This colorful mural cheered us up

As did dinner that we picked up from one of our favorite DC restaurants, the Afghan restaurant, Lapis.

We ended up the day’s walk at the hub of Adams Morgan on the corner of Columbia Road and 18th Street NW.

We will leave you with these wise words that we came upon in someone’s front garden. Please get out there and vote in November.

Day 86

Lanier Heights / Adams Morgan (June 15, 2020)

Lanier Heights is named after Elizabeth Lanier Dunn, who with her husband General William Dunn, began developing the neighborhood in the 1880s. William Dunn was a U.S. congressman from Indiana from 1859-63 and in 1875 he became the Judge Advocate General of the United States Army. During the 1960s and 1970s the neighborhood became the local hub of anti-establishment politics where the Black Panthers, anti-Vietnam organizers and other activist groups resided. The area has gentrified since that time. However, there were signs that the area’s anti-establishment politics weren’t altogether a thing of the past. Many of the residents in the area were showing their support of Black Lives Matter.

The neighborhood includes a number of stately apartment buildings, many of which had elaborate front entry doors.

This building was built around an urban beach.

Our favorite apartment complex was the Ontario, built at the start of the 1900s. A friend of ours used to live in the Ontario and would hold music recitals in his apartment. With its ornate fixtures and high ceilings, it was easy to imagine that you were enjoying a soiree in a Parisian apartment.

In fact, walking through the streets, it was just as easy to imagine yourself in a European city.

We came across a number of classic cars during our walk.

Including this yellow Rover.

Less classic but just as interesting was this vehicle.

The neighborhood included some vibrant splashes of color.

Including this rather colorful character.

And this flower garden

There were also attractive row houses.

And a Spanish style firehouse.

We found ourselves on 16th Street briefly. Just enough time to pass three more churches.

We have talked previously about how some churches are now being put to other uses. The Line DC is another example. It includes a hotel, restaurant and a number of bars, all located inside a 110 year old historic church.

Day 85

West End / Downtown (June 13, 2020)

We walked from Georgetown along N Street and back along M Street on a sunny Saturday afternoon. It was relatively peaceful after the chaos of the previous week.

We passed by the Francis-Stevens Education Campus, which despite the sign, is now more accurately called School Without Walls at Francis Stevens. Francis-Stevens which serves preschool through eighth grade was under-enrolled and slated for closure when it merged with the School Without Walls high school in 2014. Although Francis Stevens shares an administration with School without Walls, the high school students are at a different campus. Unlike the high school which is a magnet charter school, Francis Stevens is run as a traditional public school and accepts all students within its enrollment boundary. We think that it may be the first school that we have passed that has not had a recent renovation. We have noticed gardens planted by the students on the grounds of many of the schools we have passed. With the students at home because of the virus, we hope someone is picking and eating these school grown vegetables.

The West End primarily consists of glass and concrete office and apartment buildings as well as hotels. Here is an example.

However, we did pass a number of more traditional buildings.

We also passed by the headquarters of the National Geographic Society. Like many of the buildings downtown, its ground floor was boarded up, a consequence of the recent riots and looting.