The Dews Family House (408 E Mason)

The beautifully preserved and restored 408 E Mason, showing off its craftsman details.

This handsome house with the craftsman details was one of the two-story, single-family homes built by Newman and Esther Raymond. A description of the house types can be found here. This particular house was the largest of the group, with dimensions of 19 feet across and 30 feet deep.

 Willis and Annie Warren had purchased the lot in the East Braddock development in February 1937 but had never built on it. With the expansion of the federal workforce in the run-up to WW II the Raymonds looked around for infill opportunities and in September 1940 they purchased the Warren's lot. In May 1941 Newesta took out a mortgage on the property for $4,500 to finance construction of a house and just a month later it was purchased by Albert and Gertrude Ramsay, who assumed the construction mortgage and gave a second mortgage back to Newesta for $1,750.

The Ramsays
 Albert had been born in Connecticut in 1902 and in 1929 he married Mary Gertrude Kennedy, Ohio-born in 1907. They set up house in Springfield Connecticut, where Albert worked as a linotype operator for the local newspaper, while Mary cared for son Terrance, born in July 1930. The depression hurt the newspaper business and in 1935 they moved to West Caton Avenue in the Mt Ida neighborhood of Alexandria. Albert continued as a linotype operator, but for the US GPO, and daughter Ann was born the following year.

 By 1942 Albert had been promoted to “estimator” and shortly thereafter he transferred to the Office of War Information. With the end of the war in 1945 the OWI was dramatically downsized and the Ramseys, like many other Americans, found southern California to be almost irresistible. They moved to La Jolla and Albert worked as a master printer, and eventually semi-retired as a printing consultant for ITT World Directories, enabling him to travel as he wanted. On one of those trips he suffered a fatal heart attack in Dublin, Ireland in September 1969, at age 66. Mary passed away in Los Angeles in June 1980.

Keeping The Family Together - The Dews
 The Ramsays sold the house to the Dews family in August 1946. Dow Dews had been born in March 1877 and grew up a farmer. In 1910 the tall, fair-haired, blue-eyed Dow married 22-year-old Ellen Benson. She gave birth to five daughters: Hazel (1912), Helen (1913), Esther (1918), Ellen (1920), and Dorothy (1922). Unfortunately, in September 1916 Dow fell from a colt he was training, breaking both bones in his lower right leg. Complications set in and the hospital was able to avoid the amputation they feared, but he was never completely fit thereafter. In February 1922 the livestock (including 9 horses and 5 cows) and farming implements were auctioned off. Dow took work as a teamster, then tearing down and salvaging houses in the 1930s.

 In 1938 daughter Esther married Marylander Thomas H Buckler. She stayed on at the family house in Kansas, along with new son Ronald, while he moved to the Hotel Belvoir south of Alexandria to find work, eventually, as a bus driver with the AB&W bus company. Esther joined him in 1940, the two moving into 511 N Columbus Ave.

 Apparently Esther wrote encouraging words about the federal government hiring in the midst of a depression, for in 1941 the entire Dews family packed up and moved to Alexandria.  Thomas, Esther, Ronald and new son Robert (born 1945) stayed in their own house, now on Queen Street, but the rest of the family rented a house on 220 N Fairfax.  Dow, now 63, found work as a watchman for the War Department, while Hazel and Ellen took clerical jobs with the federal government and Helen worked as a saleslady at JC Penney.

 They saved their money and in August 1946 they were able to buy 408 E Mason from the Ramsays, with title being conveyed to Hazel, Helen, Ellen and Dorothy Dews. Hazel and Dorothy do not seem to have lived there, but Dow and Ellen, the parents, did join Helen and Ellen.

 The four of them continued to live in the house through most of the 1950s but they eventually fell victim to homesickness. In December 1958 they sold the house to Henry and Freda Berman and moved back to Pittsburgh, Kansas, with Dow, wife Ellen and daughters Hazel and Ellen sharing a house, with Hazel a supervisor at the regional Census Bureau office, presumably not directly above her sister Ellen, who also worked there. Dow passed away in December 1961 and his widow Ellen in January 1965. Thomas and Esther Buckler moved to Pittsburgh (Kansas) as well in 1961, where Thomas worked as an electrolux salesman.

The Postscript
 The Bermans bought the house using a $10,700 VA-backed mortgage. They held it until August 1973 when the sold it to Stephen and Christina Lycan for $34,500. They, in turn, sold it in September 1978 for $63,950.