The Location: A Carriage House With A Dramatic Past Gets A New Lease On Life (Transcript) | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Transcripts

The Location: A Carriage House With A Dramatic Past Gets a New Lease On Life

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:09
Welcome back to "Metro Connection." I'm Rebecca Sheir and now that fall is officially here, on this week's show we are, appropriately enough, Falling. We've heard about the falling number of homes for sell in the D.C. housing market and later on, we're going to share your tales of falling love. We'll also take a dive on Capitol Hill for the latest in our "D.C. Dives" series. But first, we're going to get a little bit literal with our Falling theme and talk about a guy who 123 years ago took quite the tragic tumble. It's the topic of our regular series "The Location."

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:45
In which Kim Bender, author of the blog "The Location," helps us explore the hidden history of Washington's places, people and culture. And this week we're checking out a location...

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:54
And what location are we visiting today, Kim Bender?

MS. REBECCA SHEIR

00:00:57
...not too far from the site of that fateful 19th century fall.

MS. KIM BENDER

00:00:59
Today we are standing right in between what once was 1225 and 1227 10th Street Northwest.

SHEIR

00:01:07
Today, 1225 and 1227 are open spaces, adjacent long and narrow tracks of land where rowhouses once stood. At the back of the lots is a quaint carriage house and we can actually thank that carriage house for the story we're about to hear, since it was the house's owners that led Kim to uncover this little known piece of D.C. history.

BENDER

00:01:27
The people who live in the carriage house are Anna and Dan Kahoe and they own Good Wood, which is a store on U Street that sells vintage furniture and old objects. So I was at Good Wood and Anna Kahoe approached me and started talking to me and I remember that I had looked up the building that she was living in that point and it's called the Louise Hand Laundry. It's on 12th Street right around the corner.

BENDER

00:01:53
And I said, you know, I was researching it for my blog and she said, well, maybe you want to come write about the new place we're moving into, which is this carriage house. And maybe you could look up the history and see if there's something interesting behind it.

BENDER

00:02:06
And I research tons and tons of addresses and properties around the city all the time trying to find out if there's some interesting history and usually come up short. And this one had something really tragic but interesting.

SHEIR

00:02:20
Let's hear the story.

BENDER

00:02:21
So in 1887, Samuel Huntress got a building permit for this lot. He was what the newspaper later called, a perambulating coal oil dealer, which basically meant that he sold coal from his wagon. He both 1225 and 1227 and he and his wife and his son lived in 1225. Two years later, on Aug. 9, 1889, the elderly Huntress, we're not really sure how old he was, was riding in his wagon with his employee James Combs, who's 26 and black, which kind of comes in to play later in the story.

BENDER

00:03:02
They're riding their wagon having just come back from selling coal. Witnesses all said they were very, very drunk. Other witnesses saw them turning around the corner of Blagden Alley, right in back of the carriage house here, getting really into a fight. Huntress punched Combs. Combs fell backwards in the wagon. The blow to Combs caused Huntress to go off balance. He lost control of the carriage. The carriage hit a building and they were both thrown off the wagon. And Huntress hit his head on the cobblestones and he died.

SHEIR

00:03:38
What happened to Combs? Did he survive?

BENDER

00:03:41
He survived, he was fine except for the fact that he was immediately arrested in suspicion of murder. And over the next few days, the coroner did an inquest to try to figure out the cause of death of Samuel Huntress and whether it was Combs' fault.

BENDER

00:03:57
What I think is an interesting part of the story is that Combs was acquitted by six witnesses who all corroborated his story, but all six of the witnesses were black. And so I find that to be very interesting, that in 1889, a black man who was arrested seemingly with no cause was absolved of any wrongdoing by his peers.

SHEIR

00:04:20
Okay, so Huntress had both of these buildings, he died in this accident. How did we get from those two buildings, those two long skinny rowhouses to what we have now which is all this empty space where these long skinny rowhouses used to be?

BENDER

00:04:37
1227 we know as been gone for a while, not sure how long. 1225 came down in 2009 after a raze permit had been approved. Actually the woman who owned this building before the Kahoes tried really hard to save the building but it was in too much disrepair so it's been a problem for a while. And I'm sure that once 1227 was gone, 1225 didn't have a lot of support because they shared the same inner structural wall. So I wonder how much that had to do with it, too.

SHEIR

00:05:09
But, lest you think this story has an unhappy ending, something you should know about Anna and Dan Kahoe, their unrelenting history buffs with a deep passion and respect for preserving the past. That's why they've spent year fixing up the carriage house that stood behind Samuel Huntress's two buildings. And now that Kim Bender has unearthed Huntress's story, Anna says she and Dan are planning a little homage to our nearly forgotten perambulating coal oil dealer.

MS. ANNA KAHOE

00:05:36
We had always considered painting an old sign on the back of the building but when we tried to figure out what the building. So now we are designing a sign that says Huntress Coal Oil Company.

SHEIR

00:05:49
So if you two hadn't come together you wouldn't have known?

KAHOE

00:05:52
No, because I had looked. I had tried to find information about it and I couldn't.

BENDER

00:05:56
And I research so many places and usually come up with nothing so it was very cool that it was something. There's like a really interesting story behind the place.

SHEIR

00:06:05
To read even more about this interesting story, you can find a link to Kim Bender's blog, "The Location," on our website, metroconnection.org. And if you've stumbled across a hidden piece of D.C. history you think we should cover on "The Location," let us know, our email address is metro@wamu.org.
Transcripts of WAMU programs are available for personal use. Transcripts are provided "As Is" without warranties of any kind, either express or implied. WAMU does not warrant that the transcript is error-free. For all WAMU programs, the broadcast audio should be considered the authoritative version. Transcripts are owned by WAMU 88.5 FM American University Radio and are protected by laws in both the United States and international law. You may not sell or modify transcripts or reproduce, display, distribute, or otherwise use the transcript, in whole or in part, in any way for any public or commercial purpose without the express written permission of WAMU. All requests for uses beyond personal and noncommercial use should be referred to (202) 885-1200.