Continuation of the History of the Lot and Building at 3401 Prospect Street


On July 12, 1864, Isabella Morton and her children Marion Morton, Lorine M. Morton, Adeline Morton, Annie W. Morton, and Alice E. Morton, for $2,865.25, deeded to William F. Seymour all that part of "Lot 31 Old Georgetown and Lot 40 Peter, Beatty, Threlkeld &Deakins Addition". The deed recites that Isabella was the mother, and Marion, Adeline, Anna W. and Alice E. were the sisters of the late Cyprian A. Morton, who had died intestate. The property is described as follows: "Land beginning at a line on Prospect St. with west line of Fred. west 73' north 99' to north line lot 31 east parallel Pros. 73' to west line of Fred. and south 99' to be." In plain English, the property conveyed was the 73 foot by 99 foot rectangle of land at the northwest corner of Prospect and Frederick (now 34th) encompassing the present buildings at 3401 and 3405 Prospect and at 1234 34th Streets.

Boyd's Washington and Georgetown Directory for the next year (1865) lists:

Because West Street, at that time, was the part of the present P Street in Georgetown that is east of Wisconsin Avenue, it is clear that the Morton Family was living on the east side of Georgetown during the time they owned the land at 34th and Prospect Streets.

The lot's new owner, William F. Seymour, was a prominent Georgetown haberdasher and one of the organizers of the Georgetown Gas Light Company, which in the 1850s installed the underground gas pipelines that brought lighting to the streets of Georgetown, as well as to many of its stately homes. It was he who built what is now the Delta Phi Epsilon House.

The 1865, 66, 67, 68, 69, and 70 Assessment Books for Georgetown all described Lot 31 simply as "73' nl Prospect by 99'" and stated that W.F. Seymour was the owner. No improvements were for those years noted on the Lot. The assessed value was just $2,100.

For example, the Boyd's Washington and Georgetown Directory for the year 1865 listed:

The Boyd's Directories for 1870 and 1871, however, listed:

The 1871 Assessment Book for Georgetown stated that W.F. Seymour was the owner of the Lot 31 and that the assessed value of the land was $1,800 and of the improvements $8,000. The year 1871, in other words, provides the first indication of the existence of the building destined to become the Alpha Chapter House. It evidently was constructed in either the very late 1860s or the very early 1870s.

In 1875 the Assessment Book's figures for the land and for the improvements were $1,807 and $9,000 respectively. Both the 1876 and 1877 Assessment Books staid that the value of the lot's improvements was $8,000 and described them as a "large new brick house."

Shown below is the listing for William F. Seymour in the 1879 Boyd's Directory for Washington and Georgetown:


A map from the 1870s showing the Old Georgetown Lot 31 after its purchase by Wm. F. Seymour
Note that Lot 31 then comprised all of what is now 3401 and 3405 Prospect St.
as well as the south part of what is now 1234 34th St,
and even the rear areas of what are now 3409 and 3411 Prospect St
In 1888 Wm Seymour purchased from the heirs of Mortimer Garrett the north part of what is now 1234 34th St,
thereby becoming the owner of a substantial rectangle of land
going 73 feet west on Prospect from 34th and running all the way up 34th to the alley that is halfway to N Street.
Note also that, at the time of this map, the future fraternity house already had its rear extension,
(in which are now the Library and Terrace Room),
but did not yet have the addition now containing the dining room, kitchen and former garage.

The Tax Assessors Plat Book of 1893 showing Square 51 (1221).
Note that in 1893 the Seymour Family's land holdings included
all of what is now 3401 and 3405 Prospect St. and 1234 34th St,
as well as a small part of the rear of 3409 and 3411 Prospect Street,
and a substantial parcel of land in the middle of the north half of the Square.




Click here for a Photographic Tour of the Alpha Chapter House
Click here for
Photographs of Prior Alpha Chapter Houses.

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