Posts Tagged ‘Logan Circle’

National City Christian Church

National City Christian Church is located on 5 Thomas Circle (MAP), in northwest D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood.  It is the national church of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ, often abbreviated simply as the “Disciples of Christ” or “Christian Church”), a mainline Protestant Christian denomination.  And during today’s lunchtime bike ride I visited the church.

The church’s neoclassical building was designed by John Russell Pope and completed in 1930.  It has a “monumental character” typical of Pope’s style and seen in his other works, such as The Thomas Jefferson MemorialThe U.S. National Archives and Records Administration building and the West Building of The National Gallery of Art.  The church’s design was partly influenced by British architect James Gibbs’ Saint Martin-in-the-Fields church, built at Trafalgar Square in London in the early 18th century.   The National City Christian Church building, which is constructed of Indiana limestone, is a contributing property to the Greater 14th Street Historic District, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

The church building also features stained glass windows commemorating the two presidents thus far associated with the church.  The first is President James A. Garfield, who  preached there, and whose family pew is still displayed adjacent to the sanctuary. The other is President Lyndon B. Johnson, who along with First Lady Lady Bird Johnson worshiped there and mingled regularly with other parishioners in Fellowship Hall after services.

However, churches are more than the buildings in which they worship.  The congregation that eventually became the National City Christian Church was organized in 1843.  James Turner Barclay, a physician and pioneering Stone-Campbell Movement missionary, helped to organize the congregation.  In the 1950s and 1960s, the church had a congregation of some 800 regular Sunday worshipers.  However, in 2004, the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Alvin O. Jackson, resigned following a heated acrimonious dispute. The ouster of Jackson followed the resignation or firings of some two dozen church staffers, and the development of a deep intra-congregational dispute.  Attendance declined over time; in 2011, Sunday attendance was about 125, with mostly older congregants.

The church has experienced other recent troubles as well.  It’s chief financial officer, Jason Todd Reynolds, was discovered to have embezzled $850,000 in church funds from 2003 to 2008.  In 2011, Reynolds was convicted of 12 fraud-related charges, and sentenced to eight years in prison.  The losses from Reynolds’ embezzlement scheme caused serious damage to the church’s financial health.  It’s financial health was further exacerbated as a result of the magnitude 5.8 Virginia earthquake on August 23, 2011, which caused tens of thousands of dollars in structural damage to the church building.

Revitalization of the greater 14th Street neighborhood, thriving with an influx of new residents, hasn’t been significantly reflected in the church’s once-large congregation.  The rapidly aging denomination, which has experienced a membership crash of its own, no longer makes membership and attendance figures for individual congregations freely available. But the congregation’s recently released annual report is telling.

It’s financial troubles and declining congregation continued, and in 2017 National City was forced to sell the Campbell Building, a wing of the building that housed the educational  facilities of the church.  According to Church Moderator Jane Campbell, the building was “only partially used, had major maintenance issues, and would have cost millions to bring into usable condition – and then we would have had to find tenants as the activities of National City itself no longer fill the building.”

Currently the under-utilized building and diminished congregation continues to operate.  However, whether the National City Christian Church can reverse the overall decline it has experienced in the last half century remains to be seen.   Only time will tell.

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Stoney’s Bar and Grill

This year the arrival of spring did not bring along with it the arrival of spring-like weather. In fact, on the first day of spring I was treated to sleet and snow flurries, and the weather has remained unseasonably cold for the past few days. So I decided thumb my nose at the weather’s refusal to adhere to a schedule, and have my favorite cold weather comfort food for lunch before the warmer weather is eventually ushered in.

When I think of comfort food, I think of a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. What has become my lifelong fondness for the comfort combo began as a child with Velveeta cheese on two slices of Wonder Bread and a can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup. As a grown-up my tastes have progressed, but a good grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup can still make me feel as warm and secure as a little boy enjoying lunch in my Mom’s kitchen after playing in the snow.

Nowadays when I want to go out for a good grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, I think of Stoney’s Bar and Grill, a tin-ceilinged dive bar located at 1433 P Street (MAP), in northwest D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood. Famous for their version, Stoney’s is consistently voted one of the city’s best places for grilled cheese in The Washington Post’s annual reader’s poll, and on consumer –driven apps such as Yelp and Foursquare. I attribute its popularity to owner Tony Harris preference for bulk American cheese over thinner, pre-sliced varieties.

So I braved today’s unseasonably cold weather and made Stoney’s the destination of my lunchtime bike ride. I walked into the dark, no frills joint, and was happy to be able to get a seat in the front window, which is usually one of my favorite spots to sit in a restaurant. Sitting in a restaurant’s front window often allows me to enjoy the show passing by on the sidewalk out front as I enjoy my meal. I was greeted right away by both the bartender and one of the waitresses, which instantly made me feel at home. I then ordered what I came for, a grilled cheese sandwich. Well, I actually splurged and ordered the Super Grilled Cheese. The Super is a delicious combination of their regular sandwich, consisting of thick-cut American cheese on farmhouse white bread, but with fresh tomato, red onion and bacon added. Combined with thick-cut fries and a cup of their Roasted Tomato Basil Soup, it was good enough to hope the winter weather lasts a little longer.

Unfortunately, the photo of my lunch came out dark and fails to show how appetizing the sandwich actually was.  I guess to correct that I’ll just have to go back to Stoney’s and order it again soon.  For the sake of this blog that is something I am willing to do.

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[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

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Major General John A. Logan

Major General John A. Logan is a public artwork by American artist Franklin Simmons, who also sculpted The Peace Monument located on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Building.  It is located in Logan Circle at the intersection of 13th Street, P Street, Rhode Island Avenue, and Vermont Avenue (MAP) in northwest D.C.  An equestrian statue, it is mounted on a bronze base and depicts Logan wearing a long coat, boots, gloves and a hat, with long hair and a drooping mustache. He is mounted on his horse, holding onto the reins with his left hand and holding a downward-pointed sword in his right.  The statue is part of a group of statues entitled “The Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.” which are spread out through much of the central and northwest areas of the city, and are listed as a group on the National Register of Historic Places.

John Alexander “Black Jack” Logan was an American soldier and political leader.  He served in the Mexican-American War and was a General in the Union Army during the Civil War, during which the men under his command gave him his nickname based on his dark eyes, his black hair and mustache, and swarthy complexion.

Logan later entered politics as a Douglas Democrat, so named after fellow Illinois politician Stephen A. Douglas.  He was initially elected and served as a State Senator in Illinois, during which time he helped pass a law to prohibit all African Americans, including freedmen, from settling in the state.  Logan subsequently went on to be elected as a U.S. Congressman, but resigned after three years to join the Union Army.  After the war, Logan resumed his political career, now as a Republican, and was again elected to Congress.  During this time he was selected as one of the managers to conduct the impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson.  Later, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but after failing to win reelection returned to Illinois to practice law.  He later ran for and regained his seat in the U.S. Senate.  He also ran but was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President on the ticket with James G. Blaine in the election of 1884.  After the unsuccessful run for national office, he was reelected to the U.S. Senate, where he continued to serve until his death.

Despite his success in a variety of professional and personal endeavors over the course of his lifetime, he had no schooling until age 14.  It was then that he studied for three years at Shiloh College.  After leaving to serve in the Mexican-American War, he came back to study law in the office of an uncle, and then went on to graduate from the Law Department of the University of Louisville, after which he also practiced law with success intermittently throughout his lifetime.

However, despite his very successful military, political and legal careers, Logan is perhaps remembered as the founder of Memorial Day and the driving force behind it being designated as an official Federal holiday every year on the last Monday of May.  Originally known as Decoration Day, it was intended to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War.  It took years, however, until the Federal holiday, which extended to only Federal employees and D.C., was adopted nationally and by the states.  New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day a legal holiday, and most other Northern states soon followed suit.  However, the states of the former Confederacy were unenthusiastic about a holiday founded by a former Union General and memorialized those who, in Logan’s own words, “united to suppress the late rebellion.”  Much of the South did not adopt the Memorial Day holiday until after World War I, by which time its purpose had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.  Several Southern states continue to also set aside a day for specifically honoring the Confederate dead, which is usually called Confederate Memorial Day.  It is also observed on the last Monday in May in Virginia, but the date varies in other states.

Upon his death, Logan’s body lay in state in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol Building before being laid to rest at the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery, the forerunner of Arlington National Cemetery.  There he is entombed in a mausoleum along with his wife and other family members.

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The Watermelon House

The Watermelon House

When the owners of the 19th century brick end row house located at 1112 Q Street in the Logan Circle neighborhood of northwest D.C. (MAP) hired painters to paint their house, it did not turn out the way they had intended.  They had wanted the house to be painted a solid, nice shade of fire-engine red.  And although the front of the house turned out as originally intended, the side of the house ended up being more like to color of “Pepto-Bismol.”  But that mistake turned out to be a good thing, because without it the public might not otherwise be able to enjoy what has come to be known as “The Watermelon House.”

Instead of becoming upset with the way the painting job turned out and filing a lawsuit or a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, the owners made the most out of it.  They got some black and pink and green paint, and painted a watermelon on the side of the house instead. When asked, the owners of the house will say that they don’t consider themselves to be artists, they “just can’t stand bland colors.”  Since then, the “Watermelon House” has become an unofficial neighborhood landmark.

Since watermelon is one of those foods that screams summertime, I thought The Watermelon House would be an appropriate destination for a bike ride during this first week of summer.  And I enjoyed seeing the house, although it seemed to be a little “seedy.”

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Barrel House Liquors

On a recent ride on 14th Street to see the gentrification of the neighborhoods through which it passes, I saw some interesting things.  Among the most interesting was the Barrel House Liquor Store (MAP).  As you might expect, the liquor store’s entry is framed by a large barrel that you enter through. The store’s unusual doorway was constructed some time during the 1950s, and is a local attraction. Before turning to liquor, this storefront once housed an auto dealership – for Rolls-Royce.  There’s always something interesting to find in D.C., which makes the bike rides fun.