Second in a series
To the west of the Anacostia River, there is no F Street SE. There is however, an F Street Terrace, a one block alley that runs in the same direction as the city’s numbered streets and boasts a pedestrian alley that truly calls attention to how life used to be.
I am not entirely convinced people actually follow the Barracks Row Heritage Trail or any of the other tourist-oriented walks through D.C.’s historic neighborhoods, but F Street Terrace is the 13th stop along the Barracks Row route. The history of the unusual alley includes dwellings not unlike those found on Gessford Court, stables for a dairy and warehouses (one is currently for sale — $1 million). The alley remains partially intact from the heyday of 1897, when well over 100 people lived in the Terrace. But the story of what happened to other portions of what was once a bustling alley neighborhood is a familiar one:
Eventually eight alley houses were razed for the warehouse across from this sign. The warehouse has served as Shakespeare Theatre’s set and prop shop and a woodworking studio. In 1952, after city authorities complained about squalid conditions, most of the dwellings 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.
Archibald Walk is private in a way that, on the occasions I walk through F Street Terrace, keeps me away from the Walk, with its lush plants and residents’ lawn furniture arranged on it. The Walk is the residents’ front and back yard as well as their main street. Though basically a public street, it feels very private, a place where one doesn’t want to intrude.
Note: If one were to live on the Walk, it would appeal to a car-free lifestyle — the only way to get to the street from the walk was and always will be by foot.