Map of the Navy Yard Before Nationals Park

Another map! Sweet. I think GoDCer David will dig this. Most of you will dig this because these old maps are amazing.

This time, we’re checking out the Navy Yard circa 1921. This is the area around the current Nationals Park.

- click image for more -
Navy Yard circa 1921
Navy Yard circa 1921

Here is the same area today in Google Maps.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=38.874693,-77.007186&spn=0.003805,0.004501&t=m&z=17&output=embed]

Studying the 1921 map closely, I noticed, as I’m sure you did, that there was a church on the southeast corner of Half and M streets. St. Matthews Chapel.

That’s interesting. Just a block away from the current entrance to the park, there once stood the House of the Lord. I think it’s safe to say that our stadium and team are therefore blessed.

St. Matthew's Episcopal Chapel at Half and M streets southeast - 1921
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Chapel at Half and M streets southeast – 1921

Now I want to know more about the chapel, and if you’re a hardcore GoDCer, you probably have that same curiosity. Let’s dig a little deeper for a mini “If Walls Could Talk.”

I wish we could find a photo of the church, but alas, the Internet giveth naught. There are a few stories that we can share. There isn’t an abundance of information about the church in the newspaper archives, but we can track down the origin to its opening in 1892.

There was an article in the  Washington Post, highlighting some excitement at the chapel, courtesy of some lightning (thankfully nobody was hurt). This was published on August 14th, 1906.

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Chapel, at Half and M streets southeast, was struck by lightning at 5 o’clock yesterday morning, but was only slightly damaged.

The bolt was like a great ball of fire, and after striking the little church it whizzed over the residences of Frank Hazel, 73 M street, and John Bateman, 75 M street, and disappeared over the Bruen Mission, First and M streets.

The slate roof of the church was slightly damaged. A crowd soon gathered, and the keys of the church were obtained from Miss Laura Ferguson, the janitor. Several daring spirits entered the edifice and were relieved to find that the interior of the building had sustained no damage.

The row of houses adjoining the church on Half street are of brick and a vacant lot adjoins it on the M street side. No damage was done to residence property.

Even in 1921, you can see that the two lots next to the chapel are vacant.

Sadly, this is all we could find on the chapel. But, if GoDCers are interested, maybe we can dig around for stories on the former residents of the area around the park. Or better yet, who lived in the homes now occupied by the field. That might make an interesting “They Were Neighbors” post, don’t you think?

Back to today … this is what you’ll see, walking down Half St. today. #NATITUDE

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • Nitin

    Old maps ARE amazing. moar plz.

  • Shiba Fussa

    Barry’s Chapel was located right behind second base – check out the cornerstone located in St Dominic’s Church in SW

  • Its interesting to see on the 1921 map that there was a Quander Street at that time. The Quander family have lived in America since the 1600’s, and have contributed several notable family members to DC’s history. I also see that the street name will be restored in the future plans for development of that area. Good show!

  • pyochum

    This will be VERY useful information if I ever take a Delorean back to, say, August 12th 1906, and happen to forget to bring extra plutonium. Which happens to everyone, am I right?