-ad 189-

The Big Train’s Nuptials: The Low-Key Wedding of Walter Johnson in Columbia Heights

Take a look back at Walter Johnson's low-key wedding in Columbia Heights in 1914, one of the best story tips we've received thus far. Learn more about the wedding, read the original newspaper article, and see the historical Baist maps of the area.
-ad 188-

Here’s one of the best story tips we’ve received thus far.

Thanks to GoDCer Jack in Poolesville who tipped us off to the Big Train’s nuptials being held in a regular apartment at 1498 Monroe St. NW, right on the border of Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights. The Big Train is probably my second favorite person to write about (after Officer Sprinkle) and a personal story like this is a great one to share.

The wedding was reported in the Washington Post on Thursday, June 25th, 1914. Walter Johnson and Hazell Lee Roberts married the night before at the home of Hazell’s parents (her father was Edwin E. Roberts, At-Large Representative from Nevada and former mayor of Reno).

-ad 197-
Walter and Hazel Johnson with Walter's mother (Library of Congress)
Walter and Hazel Johnson with Walter’s mother (Library of Congress)

The world’s greatest pitcher, before whose resistless arm all other rivals have gone down to defeat, met his mater in the Love God, and gracefully surrendered when Walter Johnson, of the Washington American League team, was quietly married last night to Miss Hazell Lee Roberts, daughter of Representative E. E. Roberts, of Nevada, at the home of the bride’s parents, the Raymond apartment house, 1498 Monroe street northwest.

The triumph of Cupid over this famous champion of the diamond was the immediate sequel of the finest exhibition of his prowess he has ever shown, but few of those who saw the masterly skill with which he won victory from the world’s champion Athletics were aware of the romantic event to follow a few hours later. From a special box at the baseball park a pair of bright eyes watched him in the culminating achievement of his career on the mound, just as they had followed his success so often since the evening, about a year ago, when he met his future bride at the Hotel Dewey were the Nationals at that time made their headquarters and the member of Congress from Nevada, with his charming family, made his home.

The tumult and the shouting which greeted his wizardlike prowess at the baseball park were in striking contrast with the exclusive and simple ceremony at the home of the bride, where the Rev. Dr. Prettyman, chaplain of the Senate, officiated. There were no bridesmaids and no best man, only members of the bride’s family witnessing the ceremony.

So much awesomeness in this article. Yes, I have a little bit of a historical man crush on Walter Johnson. I mean, the guy was an awesome pitcher, maybe the best ever and he lived in D.C. He was a good dude, people liked him and he gets married in a low-key ceremony in a small Columbia Heights apartment a few hours after he destroys the Philadelphia A’s. How can you not admire this man?

-ad 199-

Check out the old 1907 Baist map of the block. The Raymond is situated close to the corner of 16th and Monroe. The pink structures are brick row houses and the yellow ones are frame homes. You can see how many empty lots there were back then. Check out the post on Columbia Heights growth and development, following the streetcar boom in the early 20th century.

1907 Baist real estate atlas of Monroe St. NW (Library of Congress)
1907 Baist real estate atlas of Monroe St. NW (Library of Congress)

Here’s the same area in a Baist map from 1915, just a year after the small wedding ceremony. The address is 1498 still, so it likely wasn’t changed until the eastern side of the block filled in, which was still quite open when this map was made.

1915 Baist real estate atlas of Monroe St. NW
1915 Baist real estate atlas of Monroe St. NW

I’m a little confused about the address since 1498 Monroe St. NW is non-existent today (i.e., the address disappeared). The building that was the Raymond in 1914 appears to be in the same spot, but it now has the street address 1538 Monroe St. NW. By studying the Baist map, I’m guessing that addressing for the entire south side of the block was redone when the vacant lots were filled in with development.

Another interesting quirk on that block of Monroe St. is that the south side has a 1500 block, yet the north side does not. Again, probably the result of the north side filling in faster than the south.

I walk my dog past this building on occasion and now I know a great little story about it from 98 years ago. I don’t know anyone that lives there, but if you do, share this story with them.

1538 Monroe St. NW
1538 Monroe St. NW
1538 Monroe St. NW today
1538 Monroe St. NW today
-ad 617-

Enjoy daily

Ghosts of DC stories.