Petworth’s Not So Humble Beginnings

A reader who is doing research on a book writes in (including the title of the post):

“The Feb 13, 1923 edition of the Washington Post lists the following ad in its real estate section:

A semi-detached house of stone and frame construction; six rooms and bath, front and double rear porches, exceptionally large kitchen; hot water, heat, electric lights; good condition; side alley. Price: $8750.”

Another, Petworth house lists for $11,000, the difference in price likely due to its “having been newly papered and painted both inside and out,” and its boasting a “45 foot front lot.”

Advertised houses of similar size in Chevy Chase and Cleveland Park sell for $12,000 to $14,500, while similarly-sized houses near Lincoln Park and (what is now)Near SE sell for $6,000-$9,000.”

It’s interesting to note that our part of town began as one of the more expensive places to live in Washington.”

So who can figure out what inflation on $11,000 from 1923 to today would be?

5 Comment

  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, $11,000 in 1923 would be $133,993.51 in 2007.

  • Great post! I like the historical stuff.

  • Seems to me its perfectly fine to have humble beginnings.

    Not sure why the need to invent/discover more glamorous beginnings for a good solid working class neighborhood.

    Your facts indicate that this neighborhood was an average priced, working class (not wealthy) area of the city. Seems kinda humble to me.

  • You can measure it a lot of ways, according to, but about $400,000 or $500,000 seems about right, not too far from modern prices!

  • Response to anonymous–True, neither Petworth nor Cleveland Park were ritzy areas of town back in the 20s and 30s.

    With relatively few exceptions, the working class did not own houses in D.C. during the 20s and 30s. They lived in very cramped apartments and in the alleys. There weren’t any “working class” neighborhoods of owned houses.

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