This sole success was not enough to assuage the officers of the company and in July 1916 they liquidated the corporation. One true believer remained, however. Martin Wiegand, a 48-year German immigrant, the treasurer of the corporation, bought the land from the shell of a company on his own. He fared no better than the corporation had and he did not manage to dispose of any of the plots. Three years later he sold all the undeveloped land to Sherwood Stonnell. He did sell one of the eastern houses to a John McKenny shortly thereafter, and finally the western pair to John R. Smith in 1920. The unglamorous ride of the Potomac Improvement Company, the first builder/developer in Del Ray, had finally come to an end.
Fortunately, all of these cool buildings still exist, the unique duplexes at 17-19 and 315-317 East Del Ray, and the single-family home at 222 East Del Ray. In particular, the unit at 19 East Del Ray has retained its original configuration and is a beautiful classic example of a duplex of the time.
As an aside, one of the duplexes housed a very long-time Del Ray resident. The John R. Smith who bought the western pair of duplexes died shortly thereafter and his widow Laura and youngest daughter, Ann, born in 1906, moved into what is now 19 E Del Ray. By 1930 Ann had begun teaching piano in the house. In 1948 Laura died and left the duplex to her two unmarried daughters, No.17 to Emily and No.19 to Ann, although they appear to have not recorded the transaction. “Miss Ann”, as she was known in the neighborhood, never did marry and continued to teach piano there until her death in 1981, having lived in the house since 1920.
Miss Ann's half had slid into genteel decay through the 1970s. In January 1981 the City sent a “notice of rehabilitation” to the last owner of record, Laura, requiring her, now deceased for 33 years, to fix up the property. In the ensuing silence the city then launched an effort to locate a current owner, but Ann had died by then as well, without a will, and her surviving brothers and sisters had scattered across the country. None of the probable heirs, on learning of the state of the property and the requirement to fix it up, along with the confusing tangle of ownership, expressed any interest at all in the house. The house sat abandoned for several years, with at least one neighborhood child (who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent-by-youth) managing to find a way in, relating now that the two pianos, dust-covered and out-of-tune, were still sitting there. Finally, in September 1983 the City acquired the property by condemnation and sold it in December for $38,500. That owner, Chester Garvin, brought it up to code and subsequent owners each invested both money and sweat to improve it, so that it is now even better than it was when new. After a long and checkered past and with much hard work, this duplex is now a source of pride for Del Ray.