Shaw Streets - March 2017
Renovation of Carter G. Woodson Home Celebrated
Almost 400 people packed the auditorium at Seaton Elementary on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, to celebrate the completion of Phase I of the restoration of the Shaw home of Carter G. Woodson, the father of African-American history. The audience was made up of members of Dr. Woodson’s family, dignitaries from the National Park Service (NPS) and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), and other black history enthusiasts from the neighborhood and the city. Sirius star Joe Madison also set up a booth to record the proceedings for his “Black Eagle” radio show.
The ceremony was started by Robert Vogel, director of the National Capital Region of the NPS. In outlining the development of the Woodson house site and its future plans, he thanked Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for her work on the project.
According to Congresswoman Norton, the process started 17 years ago, when Bill Simons, her seventh-grade teacher and an ASALH officer, asked her for help in establishing the Woodson home as an NPS facility. She then recounted the effort to get federal funds to acquire, stabilize, and restore the three buildings that comprise the site, giving credit to President Obama for putting the project into his budget.
In relating the impact of the restoration of the Woodson home on Shaw, Alexander Padro, executive director of Shaw Main Streets, mentioned two people who are no longer here. One, Shaw activist Gloria Anderson, remembered Dr. Woodson as the “book man” who carried around books and always had candy to give to neighborhood children. The second, Denise Johnson, worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to draw attention to the home and obtain federal funds for restoration, as well as getting money to pay for the statue of Dr. Woodson in the nearby park named for him.
After the ceremony attendees lined up in front of the house at 1538 Ninth St. to take a tour. On the first floor they found reenactors playing Dr. Woodson and his friend, educator Nannie Helen Burroughs. After taking a tour of the three-story house, visitors were welcomed at a reception at Shiloh Baptist Church’s Heritage Hall, where biographer Pero Gaglo Dagbovie and Alexander Padro gave presentations on Dr. Woodson’s life in Shaw.
The Carter G. Woodson Home is the 389th NPS site. In coming years Phase II will restore the neighboring buildings that will support its operation. Phase III will entail the installation of interpretive exhibits for the house, including audio and interactive displays.
The house will be open for tours on April 21-23, for National Parks Week. The Woodson Home National Historic Site will open on a regular basis after Memorial Day, with tours every weekend.
Shaw Gets ‘Blacks in Wax’ Display for a Day
Madame Tussauds and the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) got together to celebrate Black History Month by setting up a display of life-size wax figures of prominent African-Americans at the Kennedy Recreation Center. The one-day event on Feb. 22 had Muhammad Ali in front of the center and Marion Barry near the door to greet visitors, with Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and Frederick Douglass lined up for inspection. Harriett Tubman stood watch at the entrance to the Kennedy gym.
The exhibit brought in DPR Chief of Staff John Stokes and other dignitaries, along with a number of school groups to examine and remark on the historic figures on view. Later in the day, young scholars from the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center performed as historic African-American history makers with their renowned “Blacks in Wax” show.
Cherry Blossoms Bloom Early in Shaw
The people who brought you the Miracle on Seventh Street last December have come up with another adventure in creative drinking. On March 1 they opened the Cherry Blossom Pop-Up Bar (PUB) at the Mockingbird Hill and Southern Efficiency bars on Seventh Street. Southern Efficiency has been redone to reflect cherry blossom season in Washington, with silk blossoms gliding from the ceiling, along with origami paper cranes and a Tidal Basin mural by Shaw artist Maggie O’Neill. The decorations at Mockingbird Hill have a video game theme invoking the Super Mario Brothers and other Japanese gaming characters from the 1980s. In an era when there is much talk about building walls, the bars have knocked out a couple of them, allowing patrons to move easily between environments. As with previous popups, there is a list of new cocktails and snacks that match the themes of the moment.
Shaw Main Streets Annual Meeting on March 21
If you want to find out what is really happening in Shaw, plan to attend the Shaw Main Streets Annual Meeting on Tuesday evening, March 21. It starts at 7:00 p.m. at the Marriott Marquis hotel. Get an update on the neighborhood’s big development projects, review the organization’s accomplishments during the past year, and learn about the estimated 36 new business establishments that plan to open in Shaw over the next year. The Best New Shaw Business of 2016 Awards will also be presented.
Attendees will get to vote on new members of the Shaw Main Streets Board of Directors at the end of the meeting, which will be followed by a reception. Admission is free, and no tickets are required.