Michael Buckman’s Blog: Blagden Alley – More Then Just an Alley

Today while an old friend of mine from childhood was in town we decided to venture down to Mount Vernon Square to check out Bladgen Alley and Naylor Court. I had heard interesting things about this area, and I had seen photos on Instagram of the outdoor murals at Bladgen Alley, so I decided to check it out for myself. It was definitely an eye opening experience because of what I remembered the Mount Vernon Square area looked like when I was growing up and what it looks like now. When I was growing up, the Mount Vernon Square area was a bunch of boarded up buildings that we would drive by on the way downtown, to the MLK library or later to the MCI (Verizon Center). However today, the Mount Vernon Square area is home to Bladgen Alley and Naylor Court as well as many great restaurants and plenty of great architecture as well.

Ironically I have a listing at 1205 N St, NW #D which we will hold an open house on Sunday January 15th from 1-4 pm. The property is a spacious 1BR/1BA with parking. Please come by. The listing is very close to Bladgen Alley and Naylor Court. In fact the listing, a condo, is located in a fantastic location situated close to Logan Circle, Bladgen Alley, Chinatown, Dupont Circle, and U Street. It comes with a parking space.

Today Bladgen Alley is vibrant. It consists of condos, houses, restaurants, cafes, bars, and an outdoor mural art museum. It is very close to the Mount Vernon Square Metro and consists of beautiful brick buildings. In fact upon arriving there I thought I had gone to a southern city’s old historic district- Savannah or Charleston for example. I actually believe this what the city plan was when it decided to restore the historic area around Bladgen Alley. Naylor Court, in contrast, consists mainly of condos and row houses but like Bladgen Alley it keeps that historic DC charm. DC famously used to be home to many alley ways that housed stable homes and businesses. So it is not surprising DC has tried to recreate this area in a similar fashion.

Historically Bladgen Alley dates back to two major property owners in the mid 19th century. They were Thomas Blagden and Dickerson Nailor. Blagden ran a lumber yard in the city while Nailor was a grocer. Following the civil war, downtown Washington DC became more commercial and the area near the downtown became more residential. In the 1870s the area near Bladgen Alley became home to some prestigious residents. In fact the house on 909 M Street once was home to the first African American Senator Bruce K. Blanche. While richer residents lived on the main thoroughfares, poorer residents lived in alleys.

Following the civil war Washington DC was home to many freemen who fled the south. Over time many poorer immigrants began to settle in the alley dwellings as well. In fact according to the National Park Service, this area remained a tightly knit working class community until the riots of 1968, when much of the neighborhood was destroyed.

After the riots in DC, much of this area fell into disrepair- an era of disinvestment. The unfortunate results of the ill repair coupled with the late 80s crack epidemic in the city made the area very dangerous to live in or walk through. All that changed, after the building of the new convention center. Since then the area has seen a stunning revitalization.

One of my favorite highlights of the neighborhood is the outdoor mural art museum which has murals commissioned by the DC government. If you are into architecture, art, or just want to take a walk or have a meal, I highly recommend checking out the historic districts of Bladgen Alley and Naylor Courts. The easiest way to access these areas is to take the green line to Mount Vernon Square Metro, or to take the 70 bus down to 7th Street and get off on 7th and M Streets NW.

And if you are interested in a real estate purchase or sale anywhere in the city, contact me, Michael Buckman at mbuckman1983@gmail.com or 202-251-8721. By the way, don’t forget to check out my new listing at 1205 N St, NW, open 1-4 this Sunday, January 15 , 2017.

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