Community Gathers to Unveil History

In the spirit of history and unity, residents and visitors of the Shaw and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods gathered on the lawn of Howard University Hospital to witness the unveiling of the Georgia Ave/Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail on Saturday.

Cultural Tourism D.C., in partnership with Howard University Hospital, invited the neighborhood out to celebrate the city’s 12th heritage trail, which explores the long history behind one of D.C.’s oldest thoroughfares.

“The stories we share in our city make us so rich,” said Tim Cox, the chair of the board of directors of Cultural Tourism D.C. “I love to work and play in our city, not because it’s the nation’s capital, but because of our storytelling.”

Cox addressed the crowd at the unveiling, along with the Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham; the hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. R.G. Adams; and the grandson of the owner of the former Washington Senators, Clark Griffith Jr.

Speakers shared personal stories about the neighborhood and the importance of this trail.

Adams remembered treating a patient who stared out his hospital bed window at a tree he remembered climbing to watch the Senators play when he was a young boy.

Griffith, who now lives in St. Paul, Minn., relived the historic moment in baseball history when the Senators won the 1924 World Series in the 12th inning against the New York Giants.

“We should not forget that most exciting and improbable ending in World Series history happened right here,” Griffith said while pointing to the entrance of the hospital, which now hosts an exhibit and a heritage trail sign dedicated to Griffith Stadium.

The 1.9-mile trail features 19 markers packed with information about Howard University, the neighborhood’s former businesses and interesting people who have called this area home for decades.

Darren Jones, president of the Pleasant Plains Civic Association, has had family living in the neighborhood since the ’50s and is excited to see his history preserved through the trail.

“It’s important that we know our history,” said Jones whose family members were born in Freedman’s Hospital, now home to the Howard University School of Communications.

“This area is changing; but as new things come in and things begin to change, people will see these signs and respect what is already here,” Jones said.

Since 2007, Cultural Tourism D.C. and community leaders have been working together to decide which of the 30 dozen possible sites would be featured in the trail.

One business featured on the trail is Inter-City Mortgage at site 16 on Georgia Avenue and Kenyon Street, a leader in lending to African-Americans throughout the ’70s and ’80s.

Christy Murchinson Aden, daughter of John P. Murchinson who owned Inter-City Mortgage, was excited to see her family honored along the trail for their work in the community.

“My father gave people of color the opportunity to become homeowners,” Aden said. “There was a different set of standards at that time, and he would work with people through the entire process so that they could get approved for the loans they needed.”

Aden added that the trail is important, not only to her family, but to the entire community.

“There is so much history on Georgia Avenue,” Aden said. “It’s important that we record it so young people understand and so as the neighborhood changes we have something in place to preserve it.”