Faces & Places of Yesterday, Notable People & Places / 09.02.2012

Michelle Obama isn't the only first lady to set foot in Columbia Heights. Grace Coolidge took the drive up 14th St. to attend a benefit for the Girl Scouts at the Tivoli Theater. The Washington Post reported the event on October 31st, 1925.
MRS. COOLIDGE will be the guest of honor of the children of Washington this morning at the inaugural performance of the second season of selected programs for children in the Tivoli theater. The film will be Sir J. M. Barrie's "Peter Pan," ... Mrs. Coolidge, who is the honorary president of the Girl Scouts of America, will aid their drive by attending the benefit performance Saturday morning, November 7, in the Tivoli theater, which will open the week of the drive, and will wear her uniform.
This was the first film adaptation of Barrie's play, originally released in December 1924. I found a great clip on YouTube, so check that out below.
Lost History / 21.01.2012

Here's a good one from the Library of Congress archives. It's a drawing of the proposed new Executive Mansion, to be built on Meridian Hill (where the park is today). It looks quite ostentatious for American tastes and, in my opinion, resembles Il Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia, Rome (look here ... thanks Andrea, great photo blog!). The drive for a new White House on the hill was really championed by Mary Foote Henderson, who happened to live across 16th St. from the hill. I'm sure she and her husband stood to see a mighty profit from an increase in land prices, because they had purchased enormous tracts of land up and down 16th St. Her hopes were to have a grand boulevard of embassies and fine mansions going up the street. These plans date back to 1900, right around the time when Teddy Roosevelt was looking to expand and built the West Wing due to overcrowding the White House. Luckily (in my mind), this never came to fruition. A great park was eventually built with the backing of Mrs. Henderson on Meridian Hill, topped off with a statue of Joan of Arc, a gift from France. Check out a closer view o the proposed giant mansion below. It's quite an amazing structure, far greater than the White House of today.
Other Cool Stuff / 09.01.2012

Evidently, horses racing through the streets of Columbia Heights was a dangerous thing at the turn of the century. This article I came across from July 9th, 1900 talks about a recent accident leading to new regulations.
A skillful hand is required to guide a team of spirited horses, rushing madly through crowded streets in response to an alarm of fire. The advent of the swiftly moving electric car and the vast extension of trackage in this city has made these wild runs of the engines doubly hazardous. The man who holds the reins has his own life and the lives of his brother firemen in his hands as he urges his tearing steeds across car tracks around corners and among vehicles of every description.
Doesn't this sound slightly like the current chaos of the fire trucks screaming -- at the highest possible decibel level -- down 14th St. NW, weaving through traffic as they pass Target and Best Buy.