The Volta building in Georgetown

Volta Laboratory / Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory Building is a National Historic Landmark.
Bell and family

The property is also part of the Georgetown Historic District. Built in 1893 under the direction of Alexander Graham Bell, the building served as a center of information for deaf and hard of hearing.  Bells grandfather and father were speech teachers and Bells wife, Mabel Hubbard, had been deaf from early childhood.
Chichester A. Bell

In 1879, the Bells moved to DC (So that Bell could be with his father, who already lived here and so that Bell could attend the seemingly endless federal court cases involving patent disputes) and in 1880, the French government awarded Bell the Volta Prize of 50,000 francs for the invention of the telephone. Bell used the money to found Volta Associates, along with Chichester A. Bell, his cousin, and Sumner Tainter, whose laboratory was focused on the research of recording and transmitting sound.

The Bureau, which was first housed at Bell's father's house at 1527 35th Street, (Bells fathers house which was directly across the street) moved to this neoclassic yellow brick and sandstone building when construction was completed  in 1893. 

The Volta Bureau was established as an instrument "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the Deaf." The Bureauworked in close cooperation with the American Association for the Promotion of the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf (known since 1956 as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf) The Volta Bureau  merged with Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf  in 1908.

The Beatles in DC, February 11th, 1964 at the Washington Coliseum

After the Beatles did the Ed Sullivan in New York on February 9, 1964, they performed two live concerts, one of which was here in DC, at the old Washington Coliseum at 3rd and M Streets NE, on February 11th.  The group arrived by train and gave a brief press conference.  The show…tickets were $2.00 sold-out, over-capacity crowd of about 8,000 fans.  Afterwards they attended a ball at the British Embassy, where (Depending upon who tells the tale) an unidentified woman cut off a lock of Ringo’s hair without his permission.  The group then returned to their rooms at the Shoreham Hotel.

Beatles Set List
Washington, D.C.
February 1964
 Roll Over Beethoven
 From Me to You
 I Saw Her Standing There
 This Boy
 All My Loving
 I Wanna Be Your Man
 Please Please Me
 Till There Was You
 She Loves You
 I Want to Hold Your Hand
 Twist and Shout
 Long Tall Sally


The Beatles' 'Abbey Road' came through Virginia

The Beatles' 'Abbey Road' came through Virginia

The Fab Four's Va. link
Beatles historian Bruce Spizer describes the Winchester, Va. Capitol Records plant where "Abbey Road" and other other classic albums were pressed.
WASHINGTON - Most of us know the Beatles' first-ever U.S.concert was at the Washington Coliseum, but fewer know "Abbey Road" and some of the band's other records were pressed in Winchester, Va.
"Capitol Records opened the Winchester plant in late 1969," says Beatles author and historian Bruce Spizer. "They had plants in Scranton, in Los Angeles, and Jacksonville, Illinois."
Most of the Beatles' earliest American records were pressed in the Scranton, Pa. plant, which was phased out in the early '70s, Spizer says.
"Since it didn't come onboard until late 1969, the original Capitol albums with the rainbow labels and orange and yellow swirls, none of them were pressed (in Winchester)," he says.
"You had 'Abbey Road' being the first Beatles album pressed in Winchester. After that the 'Hey Jude' and 'Let It Be' albums," Spizer says.
"Most interesting for collectors, the Beatles' 'Christmas Album' was pressed exclusively at the Winchester factory," he says.
Located on Shawnee Drive, with nearby Capitol Lane, the Winchester plant "was more automated" than the Scranton facility, Spizer says.
"The other advantage that Winchester had was the employees in Scranton were union members," he says.
Virginia was and is a right-to-work state.
"One of the other motivations was the cost-savings they had by getting this Winchester plant online and phasing out Scranton," said Spizer.
Spizer says the records pressed in Winchester were clearly differentiated from albums made in other plants.
"Capitol's different factories had different markings," Spizer says.
Markings can be found in the trail-off area after the records playable grooves, he says.
Scranton had a triangle with "IAM" on it, which was a union mark. Los Angeles had a star. Jacksonville had a zero or "0."
"Winchester had something that collectors had always described as something that looked like a thin-stemmed wine glass, but in reality was a crude drawing of a Winchester rifle," Spizer says.


Johnny Shiloh lived in DC and is buried here as well

 John Lincoln Clem (August 13, 1851 – May 13, 1937) was a United States Army general who served as a drummer boy in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He gained fame for his bravery on the battlefield, becoming the youngest non-commissioned officer in Army history. He retired from the Army in 1915, having attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Quartermaster Corps. When advised he should retire, he requested to be allowed to remain on active duty until he became the last veteran of the Civil War still on duty in the Armed Forces. By special act of Congress on August 29, 1916, he was promoted to Major General upon his retirement.

Born in Newark, Ohio, in 1851 as John Joseph Klem, he ran away from home to become a Union Army drummer boy. He attempted to enlist in May 1861 in the 3rd Ohio Infantry, but was rejected because of his age and small size. He then tried to join the 22nd Michigan, which also refused him. He tagged along anyway, and the 22nd eventually adopted him as mascot and drummer boy. Officers chipped in to pay him the regular soldier’s wage of $13 a month, and finally allowed him to enlist two years later.

Clem, in a photo taken after the war by Mathew Brady in his shop on Pa. Avenue which stood about where the FBI building is today

A popular legend suggests that Clem served as a drummer boy with the Michigan at the Battle of Shiloh. The legend suggests that he came very near to losing his life when a fragment from a shrapnel shell crashed through his drum, knocking him unconscious, and that subsequently his comrades who found and rescued him from the battlefield nicknamed Clem "Johnny Shiloh."

The weight of historical evidence however suggests that Clem could not have taken part in the battle of Shiloh. The 22nd Michigan appears to be the first unit in which Clem served in any capacity, but this regiment had not yet been constituted at the time of the battle. The Johnny Shiloh myth appears instead to stem from a popular Civil War song, "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh" by William S. Hays which was written for Harpers Weekly of New York. The song was written following the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, and may have been written with Clem in mind because he had already become a nationally known figure by that time.

At the Battle of Chickamauga, he rode an artillery caisson to the front and wielded a musket trimmed to his size. In the course of a Union retreat, he shot a Confederate colonel who had demanded his surrender. After the battle, the "Drummer Boy of Chickamauga" was promoted to sergeant, the youngest soldier ever to be a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army.

In October 1863, Clem was captured in Georgia by Confederate cavalry while detailed as a train guard. The Confederate soldiers confiscated his uniform which reportedly upset him terribly—including his cap which had three bullet holes in it. He was exchanged a short time later, but the Confederate newspapers used his age and celebrity status to show "what sore straits the Yankees are driven, when they have to send their babes out to fight us."

After participating with the Army of the Cumberland in many other battles, serving as a mounted orderly, he was discharged in 1865. Clem was wounded in combat twice during the war.

Clem graduated from high school in 1870. In 1871, he was elected Commander/captain of the "Washington Rifles" a District of Columbia Army National Guard Militia unit. After he attempted unsuccessfully to enter the United States Military Academy, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him second lieutenant in the Twenty-fourth United States Infantry. Clem graduated from artillery school at Fort Monroe in 1875, transferred to the quartermaster department in 1882, and rose to the rank of brigadier general by the time he retired in 1915.

Clem spent a number of his Army years in Texas. From 1906 to 1911 he was Chief Quartermaster at Fort Sam Houston; after retirement he lived in Washington, D.C. for a few years, then returned to San Antonio, Texas. He married Anita Rosetta French in 1875. She died in 1899, and he married Bessie Sullivan of San Antonio in 1903. Clem was the father of two children. He died in San Antonio on May 13, 1937, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Birth of a Star—Washington, D.C.’s Evening Star


The Evening Star Newspaper Buildings. Source: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

On December 16, 1852, a newspaper described by historian Fred A. Emery as “The Rock of Gibraltar in Washington Journalism” was born. The Evening Star was one of dozens of newspapers that sprang up in the mid-19th century in Washington, D.C. Like many of its kind, it began modestly as a four-page broadsheet printed by a hand press. Only 250 copies were made for its initial run. However, its owner, Captain Joseph Borrows Tate, had a big vision, which he and the editorial staff declared proudly in its Manifest: “The Star is to be free from party trammels and sectarian influences.”

Unlike other newspapers that were polemical and highly political in nature, the Star was to be neutral. It was also to be “devoted in an especial manner to the local interests of the beautiful city which bears the honored name of Washington.” In other words, the Star was to be a newspaper focused on largely local news and concerns. It was also to dedicate itself to the development and progress of the city of Washington.

Something of the idealism and high aspirations of the newspaper can be seen in this poem written specifically for its inaugural issue.

From the inaugural issue of The Evening Star (Dec. 16, 1852)

The newspaper was literally to be a guiding light for the city.

Over time, the Star’s professional stance and local emphasis distinguished it from rivals and drove its commercial success. For many years, it was regarded as the “paper of record” for our nation’s capital, drawing such stars as cartoonist Clifford K. Berryman away from its less successful rival, The Washington Post. Berryman’s work satirizing both Democrats and Republicans, presidents and poor men, and commenting in a humorous way on numerous divisive political issues, illuminated the pages of the Star until his death in 1949.

The Monocle Restaurant

( Steve Szabo / The Washington Post ) - The Monocle Restaurant, on D Street NE has been a favorite of Capitol Hill’s elite since it opened in 1960.
“Connie” Valanos and his late wife, Helen, opened the Monocle in 1960 and quickly turned the establishment into one of the most popular watering holes on the Hill. Former vice president Walter Mondale, a Monocle regular, once called the restaurant a place “where laws are debated, where policies are set, where the course of world history is changed.”

The son of Greek immigrants, Mr. Valanos grew up in Washington and watched his parents run a candy shop and catering outfit in the decades before World War II. He noticed the dearth of fine dining on the Hill and opened the Monocle a block from the Senate office buildings, at 107 D St. NE.

The restaurant’s interior, originally with checkered tablecloths and chandeliers bought from an old casino, was dignified without being too tightly buttoned-up. The menu, with specialties including crab cakes and filet mignon, offered fare that Mr. Valanos considered befitting of an old-time politician — the sort who might sport a monocle.

“If any newly elected member of Congress wants to avoid the dismal prospect of lunching at his desk and would enjoy a jog or brisk walk of a few blocks,” Washington Post restaurant reviewer Donald Dresden wrote in 1969, “he can be handsomely fed at the Monocle, a restaurant . . . that combines the rarity of first-rate food and swift service.”

Regular clients over the years included future presidents John F. Kennedy, who favored the bay window seat and the roast beef sandwich on a poppy-seed roll, and Richard M. Nixon, who liked the chopped steak stuffed with Roquefort cheese. The two men — Nixon with his five o’clock shadow and Kennedy with his toothy grin — are depicted in a folksy mural in the dining room.

Mr. Valanos prided himself on running an operation where politicians from both parties were welcome and where local regulars counted more than out-of-town dignitaries.

Then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson once stopped in, only to discover that all the tables were occupied. At his request, Mr. Valanos asked over the loudspeaker whether any diners would be willing to relinquish their table for the vice president. No one offered, and Johnson never came back.

Democrats tended to spend more money per person than Republicans, John Valanos once told a reporter from the New Zealand Herald who had come to the Monocle to understand the ways of American politics. Stricter lobbying regulations and political vetting processes have dampened some of the big spending of the early years.

One unspoken rule at the Monocle, whose building is today owned by the federal government, has remained constant. Most patrons, even the very important ones, know better than to ask for their photographs to be displayed on the wall with other political memorabilia. The Valanos family extends that invitation.

Constantine George Valanos, who sometimes went by Conrad, was born Oct. 6, 1918, in Albany, N.Y. He grew up in Washington and graduated in 1936 from the old Central High School. After Navy service during World War II, he studied accounting at George Washington University. As an accountant, he represented local restaurant owners and suggested to them that they purchase and renovate a Capitol Hill restaurant called Station View Spaghetti House.

“What I saw,” he told The Post in 1980, “was an opportunity for a good, smart tablecloth operation on Capitol Hill.” When his clients turned him down, he said to himself, “Okay, Valanos, if you’re so . . . sure the idea’s good, do it yourself.”