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LeDroit Park Manse Has Seen The Past Come Alive


With plenty of new construction in town, it's still the homes with history that keep people talking. Some places have past through time with nary a whisper and others seem to always be in the thick of things. The latter is certainly true of 619 Florida Ave NW. Dubbed the "Ronald McDonald" townhouse by some after its less than tasteful exterior paint colors, the home is located at the nexus of where many of the city's pivotal events went down.

Stretching back to 1919, one of the city's race riots began near the home's front steps when an African-American WWI veteran James Scott hopped on a streetcar and was assaulted by whites (this was one of several incidents during the so-called Red Summer when racial tensions were at a peak across the country). Decades later, 619 was the home of an African-American doctor and former Howard University professor. Following the doctor's death, Ocy D. Hall moved into the property in 1941 and started Hall Brothers Funeral Home, which was one of the few funeral homes in the city catering to the town's African Americans. The house passed from the Halls' hands into the current owners, the Zakat Foundation, a US-based, Muslim-run charity.

Granted, most people don't want live in a home that was once part of a funeral home and that could be one of the reasons the listing was on the market for more than 500 days. But that hasn't stopped curious lookers from checking out the property. One LeDroit Park home seeker said, "I think the property has been on the market for awhile partly because it was once part of a funeral home. But for me, I don't find that particularly creepy and can look past that."

After 619 had been sitting on the market for well over a year, the owners tried using Craigslist to find renters that would provide some sort of cash flow on the property. A tipster hints that it may have found a buyer, but the only facts for now are that the once-active listing has been pulled from the market. As U Street's excitement establishments creep down the burgeoning Florida Ave Corridor and restaurant after restaurant pops up, like Bisto Bohem, Shaw's Tavern and Thai X-ing, 619 is in the perfect location to remain in the thick of it all for another century. Or more.

· Listing: 619 Florida Ave NW [Redfin]
· Renovated Row House on 600 Block of Florida Ave, NW Gets New Paint Job [PoP]
· Race Riot of 1919 Gave Glimpse of Future Struggles [WaPo]
· Old Hall Bros. Funeral Home Getting Renovated in Shaw/LeDroit Park [PoP]
· Zakat Foundation [Official Site]