The first of the houses to be built was quickly snapped up by Henry and Annie Parrish in July 1908, with financial assistance from Henry's sister Jeanette, who lived there part-time. Twenty-five year-old Henry, of medium build with brown hair and blue eyes, had married Annie Davis at her home on North Henry street in February 1901. They did not have children and a possible explanation presented itself when Annie was discovered to have uterine fibroids. An operation to remove them went bad, with a post-operation perforation of a gastric ulcer. She passed away in Alexandria Hospital in September 1914 at age 36.
Nor had Henry's life been easy. He was a conductor on the Southern Railway and it was a tough job. In 1906 he had fallen from a work train, knocked unconscious, and suffered severe bruising and a “mauled” foot. Later, in 1928, he was to lose his left foot completely when he slipped and fell while attempting to board his train at Union Station in Alexandria. Just a year earlier his half-brother Spence had lost both legs in a similar accident.
In May 1917 Henry remarried, to Nora Powell, herself a widower, at her home in Nelson County. In June 1918 Henry and Jeanette sold the house and Henry moved in with his aging mother Mary on Russell Road. Mary passed away in 1930 at age 80.1
The new owners of 1405 were John Kent (usually J Kent) and Ora Valena White, whose family would make it their home for almost four decades. Kent, descended from an early Virginia family, graduated from Virginia Tech, becoming an electrical engineer and contractor at a time when the field was booming. Quite successful, he was prominent in Alexandria business associations and the Chamber of Commerce through the 1940s. Ora had been born Ora Bauserman in Waynesboro in August 1887.
Not only was Kent successful in business, they raised five children in the house, Blanche (b 1909), Mary Lee (1912), twins Ora and John Jr (1915) and James (1918).
Eldest daughter Blanche was the first out the house. In March 1931 she married Kenneth Stout, an aspiring young foreign service officer for the State Department. They were immediately posted to Honduras where, in an ill omen, he shot and seriously wounded himself, claiming accident. In 1935 he was posted to Portugal. There, in June 1939 he hanged himself. Blanche moved back to her parents' home at 1405 with her two sons and a daughter in tow. Then she too passed away, of uknown causes, in September 1942 at age 33.
Blanche White shortly before her wedding.
Mary attended nursing school in DC, graduating in 1994 and specialized at the Johns Hopkins Department of Surgery. She was blessed with a long life and a front-row seat for a tumultuous period of American history, having met and married Louis M Friday, administrative assistant to US Vice President John Nance Garner. In 1935 they moved to Uvalde, Texas, actually residing in Vice President Garner's home as secretaries and aides through 1940. She later served as a nurse in San Antonio before passing away in 2006 at age 94.
In July 1936 John Jr married Iva Apperson of Alexandria, he 21 years old and she 20. Young love had apparently been quite blind, for two months later they separated. He sued for divorce and it was granted in October 1938. Undaunted, the next year he married 19-year-old Edna Marie Morgan and this time it worked. They moved around the corner, to 205 E Monroe, where they lived for the next decade, he working for his father.
Ora married Herman Kenneth Groom, himself an electrician, and moved to his home in Wake, Virginia. She passed away from the scourge of the family, cancer, in 1972 at age 57.
James also worked for his father as an electrician, starting after high school in 1937. He and his wife Lena moved around a bit in the Alexandria area and in the late 1950s moved to Fairfax County after he got a job as an electrical inspector.
Overall, Kent and Ora had done pretty well in their nice house for two decades, but that was to change. In 1942 a biopsy showed Ora to be afflicted with breast cancer. She fought well, but finally succumbed in February 1947. John, now alone in the house, continued to run J Kent White Electrical, along with his sons John and James. He had been suffering with heart disease since about the time Ora had passed away and in February 1956 he too died.
The house stood vacant for some time while the heirs decided what to do. Finally, in October 1969 Ora and Herman Groom, James and Lena White, Mary Lee Friday, John and Edna White, Robert and Marian Stout and Kent and Virginia Stout sold the house to James and Virginia Hall, who took out a $7,000 mortgage.
1Further information on Henry is scant. He retired, moved to North Carolina and passed away in 1942 at age 66. When asked by officials for the names of his parents his 39-year-old third wife Helen did not know.