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The Original Proprietors of Washington, D.C.

  • The First Congregational United Church of Christ 945 G Street NW Washington, DC USA (map)

In 1791, when George Washington selected the site for the federal city at the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers, the then-rural lands would be forever transformed.   The City of Washington—a 6,000 acre area—carved out of the larger 100-square-mile Territory of Columbia consisted of 30 tracts of land owned by approximately nineteen different landowners. Known as the Proprietors, these landowners occupied the cultivated fields, agricultural and domestic complexes where they lived and worked, many for generations. What do we know about the owners of this land, the cultural landscape and what it looked like? Through historic documents, this presentation will explore the long-demolished holdings of the Proprietors, now comprising the city’s monumental core and its residential neighborhoods.

Kim Prothro Williams is an architectural historian and National Register Coordinator with the D.C. Historic Preservation Office.  For more than 25 years, she has been researching and writing about historic buildings and communities in D.C., with her primary focus being to evaluate them for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.  Kim has been involved in the designation of many neighborhood historic districts and thematic-based designations.  Most recently, Kim has been identifying the city’s historic alleyways and alley buildings, rural buildings and other outliers that survived late 19th century and early 20th-century urban and social reform efforts, suburbanization and later development. 

Kim is a published author of books, articles and heritage trail brochures dealing with the built environment.  Her most recent book, Lost Farms and Estates of Washington, DC looks at the rural history of the District of Columbia, and its legacy. Two of her other books, Chevy Chase: A Home Suburb for the Nation’s Capital and Pride of Place: Rural Residences of Fauquier County, Virginia similarly address the transformation of the agricultural landscape. 

The lecture takes place at The First Congregational United Church of Christ, Second Floor, 945 G Street NW, Washington, DC.  Reservations are not required.  $10.00 for Latrobe Chapter members, student members (full time) free with ID, $15.00 for non-members.