VICTORIANS OF THE WEEK #2
FRATERNAL TWINS IN ANACOSTIA
3019 Stanton Road SE
3023 Stanton Road SE
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In the summer of 2002, 3023 Stanton Road SE suddenly lost its sagging screen porch. The thicket of creepers, alianthus sapplings, and polk weed that bulged over the chain link fence was cleared, along with a decrepit garage and a derelict dump truck that screened it from view. Threshing the lot exposed the forgotten carcass of a blue Ford Pinto, which then also vanished.
The rowhouse-without-a-row then stood cryptically untouched for months, teetering between between renovation and demolition. The issue was decided on a September afternoon, a few minutes before I happened to hit a red light at Stanton and Suitland Parkway. Glancing up the hill toward Elvans Road, I noticed a frontend loader being chained to a lowboy trailer in front of the house. I had my camera in the car and used my lunchtime to shoot the demolition pictures at "The Last Victorian on Stanton Road SE".
The gable-roofed house at 3019 Stanton Road SE never had such a near-metamorphasis. In summer, it would become an indistnct shape behind a veil of vines and tall brush, something like an abandoned plantation being overrun by the Amazonian forest. Then, at the first frost, the lush vines would die back to what looked like loops of wire and even the porch gingerbread would reappear. The last time 3019 Stanton Road pulled its vanishing act was the spring of 2004. In late September, I noticed that the lot had been cleared of both house and foliage.
These houses would have been so out of place in the neighborhoods I knew that they fascinated me. I photographed them often and tried to trace their history. However, they dated to a time when house numbering was uncommon and no one much cared what was built in the outlying area of the city. The earliest records I found were news articles about crimes and neighborhood misfortunes of the 1920s--a man struck in the head with a stone during a fight or a boy injured by a Model T Ford. At that time the neighborhood was apparently entirely African-American and poor.