Douglass Avenue is Not Part of Tinner Hill
I am writing regarding the News-Press article published in last week’s edition entitled, “Habitat of NoVa builds F.C. Home for Family in Need.” I commend and admire the work of the organization Habitat for Humanity. I am so happy for the family that will move into this new home on Douglass Avenue. However, to characterize that community as Tinner Hill is inaccurate.
To set the record straight, Tinner Hill was not the entire African American community in Falls Church. Douglass Avenue is in what was known as the Southgate Community. Realtor and investor M. E. Church sold lots to African Americans in the early 1900s. Right after the civil war Cornel John Crocker also sold lots to African Americans. He often purchased the land from those who were reluctant to sell to blacks by purporting to be interested in the land for his own use. He would then resell the land to blacks who had asked him to acquire it for them. Other black landowners peppered the landscape, Charles and James Lee, Freddie Foote, Harriet Brice and Harriet Foote Turner.
Additionally, In 1890, the Falls Church Town Council gerrymandered one third of the town back to Fairfax County. The area ceded was occupied by African Americans who owned homes and businesses and voted solidly Republican – the party of President Lincoln. This is area is known today as the James Lee Community. Tinner Hill is where one family bought land right after the emancipation and to this day own that same swath of land which sits in Falls Church City and Fairfax County.
Edwin B. Henderson, II
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