Tour of Duty
— Barracks Row Heritage Trail —
You are standing in one of Washington's remaining inhabited alleys, behind the buildings that face G, E (there is no F Street here), Sixth and Seventh streets. In 1897 the alley had 22 tiny dwellings sheltering well over 100 people. Today six houses remain, visible to your right along Archibald Walk.
In 1841 Samuel A. H. Marks, Sr. (1818-1885) built his home at 630 G Street (behind you and to the left), and alley stables and workshops. He practiced law and sold metal work crafted here from his hardware store at 641 E Street, which backs onto this alley to your right. His major client was the Marine Corps. A popular figure, he was known for the dog he trained to run between his two front coach horses as he drove Capitol Hill's streets.
By 1897 the prolific builder Charles Gessford and others had constructed the 22 tiny brick houses on Marks Court (now the parking lot) and also here along F Street Terrace.
William A. Simpson (1864-1948) bought Mark's properties around 1900 and expanded the stables from his Walker Hill Dairy, which delivered Frederick County, Maryland, milk to area doorsteps until 1929.
Eventually eight alley houses made way for the warehouse behind you to the right, once Shakespeare Theatre's set and prop shop. In 1952, after city authorities complained about squalid conditions in the alley dwellings once found within the alley to your right, they were razed for the parking lot. The six survivors are now prized residences along Archibald Walk, named for long-time Capitol Hill resident Archibald Donohoe.
"Living and Working in the Alley, 1915"
[Area Map with points of interests illustrated and captioned as follows, from top down
This map shows the buildings that occupied the interior of this block in 1915 - a maze of alleys, alley dwellings, stables, and warehouses. (Map by Don A. Hawkins and Karol A. Keane.)
An 1878 advertisement for Samuel A. H. Mark's hardware business.
Milkmen from this bottling plant made deliveries in the neighborhood. (Collection of James Simpson.)
This 1952 view of the alley from today's parking lot shows wooden sheds attached to brick alley dwellings, none of which remain. The chimney at left in the photo crowns the church's kitchen annex, still visible today. (Christ Church Archives.)
Fine art carpenters Ed Gunseth and John Husqua made this Art Nouveau bed in the workshop that replaced the Marks/Simpson stable. (Photograph by John Shore.)
Oxen in this alley pulled heavy wagons filled with milk cans from Union Station to the bottling plant where the Church of Latter-Day Saints is today 522 Seventh St. (Collection of James Simpson.)
Dairy owner William Simpson. (Collection of James Simpson.)
Baby Mary Simpson in front of her father's Walker Hill Dairy, 530 Seventh St., around 1908. (Collection of James Simpson.)
- Caption on photo:]
The entrance to F Street Terrace and the three-story home with the two-story stables behind built by Samuel H. Marks in 1841, photographed around 1930. (Christ Church Archives.)