Dear PoPville – U.S. Marshals at Monroe and Holmead this Morning


“Dear PoPville,

I’ve often wondered about the large blue house with the barbed wire fence at the corner of Monroe and Holmead. It’s an odd place. For example, my wife walked by the other morning and heard a man snoring very loudly out on the lawn. That said, it’s always seemed harmless enough.

This morning, around 7:30 am, I passed by and saw 4-5 guys in U.S. Marshal shirts and gear surrounding the place. I didn’t stop and stare, but I saw and heard one of the Marshals banging loudly on the door.

Any idea what was going on? And, more generally, does anyone know the story on that house?”

71 Comment

  • I don’t know the story behind the house, but it was probably an eviction that you saw. In DC, the U.S. Marshals are responsible for carrying out evictions.

  • I seem to recall seeing children there – makes me think it isn’t a halfway house.

  • You folks are way too nosy.

  • it is a shame the fence is such and eye sore. Who are they trying to keep out..or in.

  • it would make a fantastic condo

  • Having lived down the block for almost 8 years, that house is a puzzle. It used to be much worse, but still appears to house young men in a transitional manner who used to loiter and drink and yell at all hours. In past years it has slowed some. It also has a new dog/puppy appear every few months and then disappears around a year later. You could guess there are anywhere between 3 and 15 people living there based on who comes and goes and are in the yard.

    I recall a lot of noise and vagrancy complaints about the place a few years ago and someone looked up the ownership, and it was supposedly owner-occupied. But that was in like 2007.

    • Me too, and my observations match yours. It is a puzzle, as there’s no obvious family unit. I see many young men, several grannies, and a few kids. I wonder if it’s a woman + adult kids + their kids who run a sort of rooming house?

      Also, it’s huge. Must be 3x the size of any other house in the neighborhood.

    • They also had rabbits living in the front yard for a while about 6 months ago. It was strange. I too live down the street from them. I have had conversations with some of the guys (because I was wearing a soccer jersey and speak Spanish) and they seem nice enough. But the house def has a weird vibe.

  • Were there kids skateboarding in the empty swimming pool? Is “Heisenberg” spray painted on the walls? 🙂

  • I live around the corner from that house and they seem like a nice enough group of people. A few years ago there was a huge bunny hopping around inside their fence for an entire summer. I think his name was Steve. I often wonder what happened to Steve…

  • US Marshals are going after them because of suspicious activity – because unlike every other building in the area they don’t offer a small plates menu.

  • I used to live directly across the street from that house and have met the teenage daughter of the man who, I think, owns the house.

    I assumed a lot of negative things about the house because of the way it looks, and all the other things people are saying.

    One night, my room mates and I had a small get together out in our front yard, and the teenage daughter who lives there came by with her friends. After chatting with her a bit I learned that they have a really big extended family that live together, and that seems fairly common among the latino immigrant community. I also learned that they have lived there for over a decade. She seemed smart and fairly well adjusted. I was really ashamed of myself that I could make such negative assumptions about the house and the people who lived there based on my prejudices.

    I guess my point is, if you live on that street, get to know the neighbors simply by saying hello and making conversation before you go posting about it on the internet.

    • “I guess my point is, if you live on that street, get to know the neighbors simply by saying hello and making conversation before you go posting about it on the internet.”
      Point taken re. getting to know the neighbors, but it seems like if you have a barbed-wire fence around your property, you should be prepared for some degree of strange looks, people wondering, etc.
      It seemed like the OP was moved to write to PoP not because of the house in general, but because of a specific event that took place this morning.
      From Google Maps, it looks like the house is 1323 Monroe Street NW. Tax records show it as being classified as “Residential-Apartment-Walk-Up.” It’s not owner-occupied.

    • +147,690

    • If I don’t live on that street can I still get to know my neighbors simply by saying hello and making conversation? (before you go posting about it on the internet?)

  • All the fuss is because they are latinos, I bet that if they where germans everything would be ok.

  • I, too, live in the neighborhood and know the owner — a handyman. As for the barbed wire? Columbia Heights was not always the hipster paradise it is today.

    • so its hioster now…..hey handyman “tear down that fence”

    • I don’t want to get all “broken window theory” on this discussion bit that house literally has literally had a broken window facing the corner since last winter. Nice the people may be — they’ve always seemed so to me — but someone is failing basic upkeep. If the owner is a handyman then it’s even more egregious.also, that fence should come down.. It’s illegal, it’s an eyesore and I am sure it would be an impediment if the place was on fire.

  • The problem with having a house like this with a large extended family is that if one person is committing federal crimes – even if it’s not the home owner – the entire property can be seized. I hope that’s not the case here.

    • A little off topic from this specific house, but your comment reminded me, there was an article in The New Yorker recently about asset forfeiture: I have to admit, I’d never really given the issue much thought, but from some of the cases discussed in the article, it was alarming how low the standards are for seizing property, and how difficult the process can be for getting it back. (Perhaps like many people, I had assumed the police/courts could only seize someone’s property after they’d been found guilty of a crime–not true.)

    • An innocent property owner can always contest a seizure. We can debate the meaning of “innocent,” but if the owner has no connection to whatever criminal activity was going on, the property can’t be seized. And property can’t be seized just because someone committed a “federal crime.” There has to be some proof that the property was used in the commission of the crime or is the fruit of the crime. Or the property may be seized to satisfy a debt.

      • This is incorrect. A completely innocent owner can have their property seized. Furthermore, “property used in the commission of the crime” can be very broadly interpreted to facilitate civil and criminal forfeiture.

    • seize the house! Paint it, get rid of the fence!

      • because your need for aesthetic pleasure is more important than a family’s need for a home?

        • why cant you have a nice looking house to better the neighborhood? there are tons of ladders behind the house, there are several gallons of paint next to the house. There are certainly enough able bodied men in the house to do the work – rather than sitting in the yard drink beer all afternoon – why dont they contribute to the aesthetic pleasure of the neighboors. If we all took pride on our homes, it would be a nicer place to live.

          • The amount of paint that would take to paint that place would like run into the hundreds. I supposed if you were willing to give them cash for them to buy an approved by you color of paint and offer to do the painting maybe they would go for it.

  • why does the barbed wire face IN though?

    • Because if it faced out, it would be breaking the plane of the property line and would be a hazard to people walking on the sidewalk.

      Also, I’m gonna have to agree with others here that the barbed wire doesn’t exactly give off a, “Hey, neighbor! Say hello and chat!” vibe.

  • I know this is awful but since it looks like a fortress and the occupants appear to be hispanic/latino, I always refer to this place as the alamo

  • Folks this part of Columbia Heights was still a little sketchy when I moved here a 3 yrs ago. If the owner is a handyman and has lived here for over a decade I’m sure he has tools and such he’d like to keep. I remember seeing ladders being stored outdoors. Maybe the security fence is for just that security. It may not tickle your fancy aesthically but it was built as a matter of right.

  • they are likely getting booted from the house.

  • As I was mentioning earlier, tax records show it as being classified as “Residential-Apartment-Walk-Up,” so it’s not zoned as a single-family house.
    The owner isn’t receiving the homestead exemption, so presumably he doesn’t live there.

  • Que mucho joden con la casa esa.

  • Personally, I find the house to have a lot of character… plus/minus the barbed wire fencing. Without that, the house loses a multitude of sketchy points. But the fence, in addition to unattended broken windows, and the near constant presence of multitudes of men aged 30-40 drinking beer on its steps… well, it does raise questions. It seems more like a rooming house than anything else.

    Generally though, the sheer size of the house and its shade of blue give the corner a lot of personality. It may be true that a large extended family lives there, and that the owner is a handyman (seemingly too busy to fix up his own house), but the barbed wire makes it into an eyesore (an eyesore that may have been necessary in the past, but from what I can tell, the block is fairly peaceful right now). Take down that fence, and it just adds more character to an already colorful neighborhood!

    I’ve only lived in the area for over a year; has there been any issues surrounding this house before?

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