06 Dec 2021

History:

Lost Capitol Hill: 18 Places in Women’s History

A couple of weeks ago, a new book with some strong Capitol Hill content landed on our doorstep. Written by friends of the blog Kaitlin Calogera and Rebecca Grawl, the book sports the ungainly title 111 Places in Women’s History in Washington That You Must Not Miss. The book itself is anything but ungainly, with each double-paged spread dedicated to one of these sights, including information as to how to get there – and what you can do nearby to treat yourself.

By our count, 18 of the places are either on the Hill or have strong connections to our neighborhood, so it makes a great gift for anyone living or visiting here.

Today, we will give an overview of the book with links to our own take on these sights from the past. In future weeks, we will delve more deeply at some that we have overlooked and that the authors have brought to our attention.

Number nine on the list is a personal favorite: Anne Royall’s grave in Congressional Cemetery. She also lived on the Hill, though her house was demolished a long time ago in order to make way for the Library of Congress. However, her stories live on, whether as urban legends of her underhanded methods to get an interview with John Quincy Adams or the time she found herself convicted of being a common scold and how our attempt to add a picture to a story ended up enshrined on the cover of a book on Royall.

Three chapters on is the Belmont-Paul house, which we visited just after it was made a national monument. Our encouragement to visit remains as strong today as when we published some five years ago.

It must be admitted that we were sometimes a bit lenient about what constituted a connection to the Hill, but Vinnie Hoxie Ream and her statue in Farragut Square easily made the cut. While we wrote about the statue for the simple reason that it had been cast at the Washington Navy Yard, it should also be mentioned that Ream has three statues in the Capitol – a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Rotunda, plus two further statues that are part of the National Statuary Collection: Samuel Jordan Kirkwood of Iowa and Sequoyah representing Oklahoma.

The two pages devoted to the Furies and their headquarters on Capitol Hill (RSP)

Chapter 37 once again hit close to home. We have written about the Furies numerous times, most importantly when their house was added to the National Registry of Historic Places.

And of course, Mary McLeod Bethune statue is to be found in the book as well, at Chapter 56.

And finally, one of our personal favorites, the statue of Olive Risley Seward which is the closest thing to a statue that Seward Square has.

But this really just gives a taste of what the book is all about, and the key thing is that Kaitlin and Rebecca – and photographer Cynthia Schiavetto Staliunas – look at these sites through a very different lens than we do, adding to our understanding of our home along the way.

In future columns: What we missed!


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