JE Martin Truncated-Peak Dormer Bungalows

204 & 204 East Nelson Avenue

204 E Nelson (ex 211 E Linden)

Like most of the other JE Martin bungalows, this served as a rental property through most of the 1930s. It sat vacant intitially, but 1932 saw George and Fern Rhodes in residence, followed by Harold and Eloda Slusser in 1934, and George and Lydia West in 1936.

Somewhat longer lasting were Charles and Avenell Cartwright, who moved in around 1937. Charles was 32 and apparently made a fair enough living as self-employed repairer of automobile radiators, while 28-year-old Avenell stayed at home and 8-year old daughter Hazel attended school. They stayed there until the house was sold, moving to North Fairfax Street, at which point a maturing Hazel apparently made it possible for Avenell to take a job with A&P supermarkets.

The house was, indeed, finally sold by Herring & Wallace in October 1941 to Claude and Frances Henderson. Claude had been born in June of 1920 and Frances in June of 1916, both in Virginia. In October 1938 Frances gave birth to daughter Claudette and exactly a year later Claude and Frances married. The choice of first name strongly suggests that Claudette was, indeed, Claude's daughter but that cannot be stated with certainty. In any event, Claude was listed as her father for all purposes later on.

Claude worked as a service station attendant in the late 1930s, indeed he reported putting in 60 hours for the week of March 24-30, 1940. For that sort of effort he made $900 for 1939, as against an average US income of $1,360. By 1941, when he had to register for the draft, he had got a job with The Great American Tea Co, which did door-to-door and mail order business for the A&P supermarket chain. Having a wife and child kept the draft board at bay, even during mid-World War II, and he did not volunteer. The manpower crunch of 1944 finally hit, however, and he was called up in December 1944. For unknown reasons he was discharged seven months later, with Germany surrendered but Japan still unbeaten.

On discharge he trained as a plumber and was working at that when they sold the house. In October 1947 William and Louise Ward purchased the house, taking out a mortgage for $5,000. Wiliam worked as a salesman and clerk for the Henry P Gilpin Co, a wholesale druggists supply firm, until the mid-1950s when he took a job at the Mt Vernon Service Pharmacy owned by Charles Gertstein, at 1515 Mt Vernon Ave (one of the storefronts taken over by CVS).

The Wards lived there until January 1959, when they sold the house to Margaret Russ.

208 East Nelson (ex 207 E Linden)

This house was unique among the Herring & Wolfarth properies in being occupied pending sale. Italian-born Joseph and Gena Pistolesi lived there briefly in 1930-31. Joe was an unskilled laborer who moved around the city before and after his stint on Nelson, so it seems likely that he was hired by H&W to look after their row of properties on the street, with rent-free housing all or most of the pay. In the heart of the great depression that probably would have been quite attractive for one with no marketable skills, especially a family with four kids.

By 1932 it had gone vacant again, but in 1934 a Mrs Helen A DeMent moved in, about whom nothing is known and who probably resided there only briefly. A new tenant was found in mid 1935 and later that year title was transferred from Herring & Wolhfarth to Wallace and Herring. The new tenants were John W and Alice I McDonough.

John had been born in 1897 in Loudoun County and Alice in 1902 in Waynesboro, Va and they married in June 1926. They wasted little time starting a family, with Alice giving birth to John E in March 1927 and William in 1928. Shortly before moving, however, young John collapsed and died a week later in the hospital, on 28 May 1935, of a brain abscess. He was a little over two months past his eighth birthday.

John and Alice raised young William in the house from 1935 to 1941. By early 1940 John was an accountant at the Department of Agriculture making $2,300 per year, while paying $30/month in rent, a good ratio. In mid-1941, however, Wallace and Herring had found a buyer and John, William and a very pregnant Alice decamped to Washington, DC, where Alice gave birth to Donald in August. A daughter Jean later followed. Happily, all lived to healthy adulthood, William as a physician.

In June 1941 W&H sold 208 E Nelson to William and Lauve Helwege1. William had been born in 1902 and Lauve in 1906. William was a foundryman and iron worker who worked at the George Sims Temple Foundry and they had seen daughters Katherine arrive in September 1925 and Harriet in December 1929. By April 1940 the four Helweges were sharing the 1,000-sq-feet of 126 North Fayette with Lauve's brother Walter Spencer and his wife Marie.

Katherine "Kitty" Helwege's GW HS photo 1944

The Helweges finished raising their two daughters on East Nelson, both graduating from GW High School. Almost immediately after graduation Katherine (“Kitty”) took a job as a telephone operator and married Curtis Clayton, then in the Navy. Harriet worked as a typist briefly after high school and then married Marine Curtis Hargrove in 1949. Both girls and their husbands lived long lives.

The same could not be said for their father. William died of unknown causes in March 1955, at age 53.  Lauve moved out of the house and to Fairfax County, renting the family house, primarily to short-term (1-2 year) tenants. Finally, in September 1979 she sold the house to George and Barbara Dirner, ending 38 years of Helwege ownership. As a side note, she found love again, and in May 1978, at age 72, she married 78-year-old widower Marvin Hudson, who had lived four blocks away at 115 West Nelson in the 1940s and 1950s.

1 It can be noted that when William McDonough registered for the draft in 1946 he listed William Helwege as his next-of-kin. Presumably, then, the McDonoughs and Helweges were related somehow.