To venture into Georgetown, one must know the history of the district. The Inaugural Walking Tour, conducted on Saturday, was an introduction to Georgetown’s history socially and politically. Tour guide Jim Everett provided some background to the residences, landmarks and the people that made Georgetown.
Georgetown’s history is culturally diverse. Herring Hill, an area on the East Village side, was an African-American community. Mt. Zion United Methodist Church is the oldest black church in the District of Columbia. The Phillips School, located on Olive Street, NW between 27th and 28th Streets, NW, was an educational institution for African-American students. It is now a condominium community.
Kesher Israel Congregation serves as a religious and community institution for the Jewish population. It attracted media attention during the 2000 Presidential Campaign when Senator Joe Lieberman attended Saturday services. The Jewish population during the 1930s resided on M Street, NW.
On N Street, NW is the Holy Trinity Catholic Church. It is the oldest Catholic Church in Washington, DC., built in the late 18th century. Eighty percent of Maryland’s residents were Catholic and would attend church services. Georgetown University students were required to attend Holy Trinity. John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic to be elected president, attended services with his family.
The houses in Georgetown take on a whole different personality. Each one has a unique architectural style. The Dodge House, which is now a condominium, is an Italian-style home. Think of spending a summer in the Italian countryside and you’ll know what it feels like. Julia Child's former residence, located on Olive Street, NW, is a bright yellow house with a blue door. The house looks inviting because she entertained guests and held cooking classes. Conservation easements are marked on certain homes which mean that it is in its original structure and cannot be remodeled.
Georgetown is a district of political movers and shakers. And the Kennedys are no exception. John and Jackie Kennedy were the doyenne of D.C. putting panache and elegance in politics. They lived in seven different areas of Georgetown before John was elected President. The media personnel hung out in Georgetown to get a glimpse of the Kennedys' daily activities.
Can you imagine a trolley coming down Georgetown today? Probably not. The tracks on O Street are a reminder of what it was like to transport to and from Georgetown. According to Jim, some people liked it because it slowed down traffic and others hated it because of repairs. Sounds like Metro, doesn’t it?
Francis Scott Key, writer of the "Star Spangled Banner", was inspired to write the song when he saw the flag waving. It was an official anthem in 1931 under President Herbert Hoover. The tour ended at Francis Scott Key Park.
There is so much history in Washington, DC. One can't absorb it in one day. There will be plenty to write about as the city continues to evolve.