KCA AND COMMUNITY DEDICATE HISTORIC MARKER AT KALORAMA PARK
Adams Morgan neighbors and historians gathered at Kalorama Park on a beautiful evening April 25 to dedicate the recently installed National Underground Railroad marker which honors 20-year-old Hortense Prout’s courageous flight to freedom from slavery on John Little’s farm in 1861.
Very special guests who spoke at the dedication were Sylvia Y. Cyrus, executive director of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH); David Maloney, director of the DC Historic Preservation Office; and Jenny Masur, the leading expert on DC-area underground railroad sites and retired regional director of the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Also on hand were Advisory Neighborhood Commission ANC1c Chair Ted Guthrie and Kim P. Williams of the DC Historic Preservation Office.
The marker was dedicated to the people of the District of Columbia and to the 17 enslaved men, women, and children who worked on John Little’s farm and in his manor house, which sat on the grassy oval at the center of today’s Kalorama Park. The marker was installed by KCA with a grant from the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. The marker and an accompanying brochure are written in English and Spanish.
The marker tells the story of Hortense Prout’s daring escape in the spring of 1861 to a nearby encampment of soldiers from Ohio, who had just arrived in the city after Civil War broke out. Hortense hid disguised as a man among the Ohio soldiers, who were encamped in the area known today as Bloomingdale. She probably was about to continue north to freedom, but she was found at the camp by John Little and put in jail for 10 days. Hortense Prout, three generations of her family, and others enslaved by John LIttle, were emancipated when slavery was abolished in the District in April 1862.
Because of its cultural and archaeological importance, Kalorama Park was named a National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site in 2008. In 2015, KCA nominated the park to become an Historic Landmark. That nomination was approved by the DC Historic Preservation Review Board and forwarded to the National Register of Historic Places. (Read the Kalorama Park Underground Railroad nomination here, and the National Register submission here.)
The cost of the project was just under $10,000, which included writing and design, printing, sign fabrication and installation. KCA is grateful to the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History for funding the project, and for the support of the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC-1-C), DC Historic Preservation Office, and DC Department of Parks & Recreation. KCA member Mary Belcher obtained the grant and directed the project.
DC JUDGE HALTS DESTRUCTION OF SUNTRUST PLAZA UNTIL TRIAL
District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Todd Edelman in August 2017 issued a preliminary injunction to stop the destruction of the SunTrust Plaza at 18th Street and Columbia Road NW so that a trial can be held to determine whether the public has an easement to continue using the spot for a farmers’ market and other events.
A trial was scheduled to begin April 17, 2018, but a series of motions have postponed it. The injunction remains in place.
The Kalorama Citizens Association and Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development sought the injunction to stop the construction of a luxury condominium building by developer PN Hoffman. The planned building would cover the entirety of the 16,000-square foot lot, including the existing 4,000-square-foot plaza.
Judge Edelman said the community groups proved at two hearings in July that the public would suffer “irreparable harm” if the plaza were destroyed before the court could decide whether a public easement on the plaza exists.
KCA and Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development argue that developer PN Hoffman can’t build luxury condominiums on the plaza portion of the site, because the public for nearly 40 years has enjoyed an easement given to it by the plaza’s original developer, Perpetual Federal Savings & Loan Association.
“The judge found there was a substantial likelihood that we’re going to win on the merits, and the defendants are prohibited from blocking public use of the plaza until the final decision,” attorney Paul Zukerberg said following the judge’s August 4 ruling. “Thanks to this decision, the future of the plaza is going to be decided by a judge and not a bulldozer.”
Adams Morgan activists in 1976 opposed Perpetual’s plans to build a branch at the site because of the bank’s discriminatory lending practices and because the vacant lot at 18th Street and Columbia Road had long been used by community vendors. In an historic effort, neighborhood groups took their case to the Federal Home Loan Bank Board in Atlanta, which had to approve the bank’s plan to open a new branch on the site. The groups dropped their opposition only after Perpetual agreed to change its lending practices, provide bilingual services, and build and dedicate a plaza for public use.
Click here to read the transcript of Judge Edelman’s ruling, delivered from the bench when he granted the injunction. Click here to read the order granting the preliminary injunction. Click here to read the complaint, the motion for a preliminary injunction, and the motion exhibits.
Paul Zukerberg is representing KCA and Adams Morgan for Reasonable Development on a pro bono basis, generously donating his time and expertise. But there are many costs to bring the case to trial, including court fees, transcripts, exhibit preparation, and others. DONATE NOW TO HELP KEEP THE PLAZA OPEN TO THE PUBLIC! MAKE YOUR CHECK OUT TODAY TO THE “KCA PLAZA LEGAL EXPENSE FUND,” AND SEND IT TO KCA, P.O. BOX 21311, WASHINGTON, DC 20009. OR DONATE BY CREDIT CARD VIA PAYPAL HERE:
KCA: WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO
THE KALORAMA CITIZENS ASSOCIATION is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization founded in 1919 to promote the interests of the residents of Adams Morgan, DC. Meetings take place at Good Will Baptist Church at Kalorama and Columbia roads, where we host civic leaders, activists, and experts on a range of timely issues. Our activities are:
- Historic Preservation: KCA is Adams Morgan’s chief advocate for historic preservation. Click on Historic Adams Morgan for details and reports.
- Parks: KCA supports the Biltmore Triangle Garden and sponsors walking tours of Kalorama and Walter Pierce Parks. Click on Parks for more.
- Neighborhood Development and Zoning: KCA works to mitigate challenges to our neighborhood’s quality of life that arise from development pressures. Click on Development & Zoning for more.
- Neighborhood agreements with liquor-serving establishments: KCA pursues voluntary agreements with liquor-license-holding establishments to ensure that the interests of residents are being served. See Business Agreements for details.
TO JOIN KCA, annual dues are $25 for individuals, and $40 for two people living at the same address. Go to Join & Donate.
TO CONTACT KCA, you can email President Denis James at email@example.com or call him at 202-705-7411. Our mailing address is: Kalorama Citizens Association, P.O. Box 21311, Washington, DC 20009.
KCA’s 2017 OFFICERS ARE: Denis James, President; Robert Ellsworth, Vice President; Bonnie Rowan, Secretary; Larry Hargrove, Delegate to the Federation of Civic Associations; and Jean Stewart, Delegate to the Federation of Citizens Associations.