DeMatha’s Draft Pick Gets National Attention

DeMatha has produced yet another NBA draft pick.

The selection of Markelle Fultz Thursday marked the 23rd time a graduate of the Hyattsville Catholic school has produced a pro basketball player, second only to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, according to a count by USA Today.

The Washington Post notes that the school has done even better with top picks, like Fultz.

Fultz figures to be DeMatha’s fifth top-six pick in 42 years, following Adrian Dantley (sixth in 1976), Kenny Carr (sixth in 1977), Danny Ferry (second in 1989) and Victor Oladipo (second in 2013).

Five top-six picks in 42 years? That’s absurd. It’s more than Michigan or Michigan State, more than Louisville or Cincinnati, more than Florida or Arizona. That’s as many as Boston College, Clemson, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, combined.

The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that DeMatha’s strength in basketball has a long history:

DeMatha’s rich basketball history dates back to the 1950s. The Stags were recognized by media polling as the nation’s best team in 1962, 1965, 1968, 1978, 1984 and 2006.

The team has also produced Basketball Hall of Famers in Adrian Dantley, who went on to an illustrious college and pro career, and coach Morgan Wootten, who compiled a 1,274-192 record and was coach for five of those top DeMatha teams.

Deadspin went even further, arguing that all of Prince George’s County has for years been “to hoops what Champagne is to Champagne.” It attributed the county’s basketball culture to the exodus of D.C. residents in the 1960s, connections to the Washington Bullets and strong youth basketball teams:

“You know how they say in life, it takes a village to raise a child? That’s how we take the basketball programs in this county,” Brown says. “It’s everybody. Everybody knows everybody. We have so many coaches, guys who played AAU here and then went off to play college basketball and are coming back home to work with kids at the young ages, when they’re just 8 to 13. The level of competition here from a young age is like nowhere else.”

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A Historical Photo of the Singer Building

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

The Singer Building is getting ready for a renovation. Here’s a look at the historic Mount Rainier building in days gone by.

The photo was taken on a glass negative and donated by Herbert A. French, owner of the National Photo Company and an inaugural member of the White House News Photographers when it was founded.

“During the administrations of Presidents Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, the National Photo Company supplied photographs of current news events in Washington, D.C., as a daily service to its subscribers,” the Library of Congress notes.

Renovations on the Singer Building, which was built in 1936 in the 3300 block of Rhode Island Ave, are expected to be completed by the end of the summer. One tenant will be a restaurant from the people behind the popular Cafe Saint-Ex in Washington.

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University Park Named D.C.’s ‘Best Value’

University Park was named the “best value neighborhood” in the greater Washington area.

In a study by the online real estate site Trulia, University Park scored well on affordability, local restaurants, commute times, schools and crime.

“The neighborhood ranks high for schools and low crime and has a median list price of $455,189,” Trulia noted. “The median listing price in Washington is $558,500.”

Other top neighborhoods include Kingman Park in the District, Fairlington-Shirlington in Arlington, Fort Belvoir in Fairfax County and North Springfield in Virginia.

Though Trulia made a minor mistake (calling University Park part of another town), the ranking is spot on.

University Park Elementary is well-regarded, the town has a low crime rate and easy access to the Prince George’s Plaza and College Park Metro stations, and prices are comparably low for the greater Washington area.

We’d argue the area should have scored even better for restaurants, considering that Route 1 has become a foodie haven, with sit-down options like Franklin’s, Busboys and Poets and the upcoming Pizzeria Paradiso, as well as fun alternatives like Nando’s Peri-Peri, Bonchon and Pollo Campero.

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Hyattsville’s Unexpected New Public Art

Hyattsville’s latest piece of public art is in an unexpected spot: Traffic signal boxes.

Using grants from Prince George’s County, the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation has commissioned colorful art to be wrapped around 11 traffic signal boxes from Adelphi Road to Hillcrest Heights.

For now, only two of the traffic signal boxes are in Hyattsville, but another 22 in the city were identified for future art.

The designs were chosen by a jury of local artists and an online poll. The artists include  Harper Carter Matsuyama of Hyattsville and and Joel Traylor of Mount Rainier.

Traffic signal boxes are one of those pieces of urban infrastructure that you tend to pass by without thinking—dull gray metal boxes that can be targets for vandalism and graffiti. (In one case, a Hyattsville traffic signal box was adorned with hipster wheatpaste art.)

The new public art initiative is a smart way to fight that problem while adding to the great public art in the Route 1 corridor.

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Café Saint-Ex Owner Coming to Mount Rainier

Singer Building Mount Rainier Maryland Route 1

A group of veteran restaurateurs will open a new bar and restaurant in the Singer Building in Mount Rainier.

Erin Edwards and executive chef Jesse Miller from the popular Bar Pilar and Café Saint-Ex restaurants in D.C. and Garrick Lumsden, formerly of Passion Food LLC, have signed on to open the new spot this September.

“We love the close-knit, artistic community that already is thriving in Mount Rainier,” the co-owners said in a statement. “We hope to create a welcoming spot where neighbors can eat, drink and gather throughout the day, and look forward to working side-by-side with other businesses, artists, and residents to create new opportunities in the heart of the neighborhood.”

Built in 1936, the three-story building is being renovated this summer. Other planned tenants include Annie’s Ace Hardware, which already has locations in Brookland and Petworth; and arts incubator ReCreative Spaces.

Bar Pilar and Café Saint-Ex, which is named for the author of “The Little Prince,” are both known as laid-back neighborhood watering holes in the 14th Street Corridor. The new space is across the street from the similarly oriented Bird Kitchen + Cocktails, which should help both restaurants.

Economists have long found that restaurants do better when they are near other restaurants, and the new addition to Mount Rainier should further spur the Route 1 corridor’s growing foodie reputation.

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New Tech Center Takes Shape in College Park

Brendan Iribe Center University Maryland computer science innovation

Illustration courtesy of the University of Maryland

The outlines of Route 1’s next big addition have become clear this week as construction continues at the entrance to the University of Maryland on Campus Drive.

Named for a co-founder of Oculus VR, the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Innovation will be a striking counterpoint to the Hotel at the University of Maryland going up across Baltimore Avenue.

The six-story building will house student labs on robotics, virtual reality and artificial intelligence as well as makerspaces and open work areas. Each floor will also have a “reset room,” to offer opportunities for casual collaboration—especially appropriate since the founders of Oculus, who met while students at the University of Maryland, gave $38 million for the building’s construction.

The building’s architecture is a refreshing change from the usual brick-and-ivy look, with generous use of glass, a grassy terrace and a rooftop garden named for Oculus co-founder Andrew Reisse, an avid hiker who was tragically killed when he was struck by a car involved in a police chase in Los Angeles.

Overall, the project looks like it will integrate nicely with the trails leading to the Varsity student housing and shopping complex just north of it. Between the Iribe Center, the new hotel and all the student housing, the University of Maryland is doing a lot to change the look and feel of Route 1 in this section of College Park.

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A Famous Bob Dylan Song’s Hyattsville Ties

Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during a civil rights rally on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Folk singers Joan Baez and Bob Dylan perform during a civil rights rally on August 28, 1963 in Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On Aug. 28, 1963, Bob Dylan was 22 years old and William Devereux Zantzinger was 24.

A folk singer from New York, Dylan performed at the civil rights march on Washington where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. At a courtroom 70 miles north in Hagerstown that same day, Zantzinger was sentenced in the death of an African-American barmaid.

Their two lives would soon intersect in ways that illuminate American history, and Hyattsville played a role.

The story begins on Feb. 8, 1963. Zantzinger, who managed his family’s 630-acre tobacco farm in Charles County in southern Maryland, went to a white-tie society ball in Baltimore with his wife. He was wearing a top hat and carrying a 25-cent wooden toy cane he had picked up at a carnival.

Zantzinger, who had already been denied service at a restaurant for being too rowdy, twirled the cane like Fred Astaire. As the night wore on, he hit several hotel employees with the cane and used racial epithets.

He then approached the bar and ordered a drink from Hattie Carroll, a 51-year-old who worked part-time at the Emerson Hotel. When she took too long, he struck her with the cane repeatedly, again using racial epithets. Carroll fled to the kitchen, where she told co-workers she felt “deathly ill.” An ambulance was called.

Zantzinger was charged with disorderly conduct and released on bail. But the next morning Carroll died of a stroke, and he was charged with murder.

In an interview as the trial started, Zantzinger made comments that led him to decide to avoid speaking with journalists ever again.

“Hell, you wouldn’t want to go to school with Negroes any more than you would with French people,” he said.

At the trial, which was moved to Hagerstown due to the publicity, Zantzinger testified that he didn’t remember hitting anyone. His lawyers argued that Carroll had other health problems that could have caused the stroke, and the charge was reduced to manslaughter. He was sentenced to a $500 fine and six months in the county jail—timed so that he could complete the tobacco harvest.

The UPI wire service ran a story, “Farmer Sentenced in Barmaid’s Death,” which was printed in the New York Times. A friend showed it to Dylan, who reportedly grew so incensed he stayed up all night writing a song about the case.

“William Zanzinger (sic) killed poor Hattie Carroll / With a cane that he twirled around his diamond ring finger /At a Baltimore hotel society gathering,” began “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll,” which appeared on his next album, the classic The Times They Are a-Changin’, released in January of 1964. Dylan got a few facts wrong, including the number of Carroll’s children, the spelling of Zantzinger’s name and his “high office relations in the politics of Maryland.”

In fact, his father, Richard Chew Zantzinger, was only a Republican state legislator for a single term in the 1930s. However, to Dylan’s larger point, his obituary notes that he was “prominent in Southern Maryland social circles,” founding two hunt clubs, belonging to the Society of the Cincinnati and serving on the state planning commission.

The Zantzingers’ prominence and wealth came in part from deals made in Prince George’s County, especially Hyattsville. Richard Zantzinger and his brother, Otway Jr., were real estate developers who worked a lot in the Hyattsville area with the firm O.B. Zantzinger Co. Otway Zantzinger subdivided the Hyattsville Hills neighborhood and built a number of homes in the historic district.

One of those homes, a brick bungalow at 4018 Hamilton St., was featured in this year’s Historic Hyattsville House Tour, which has tried to raise awareness of social issues in recent years. “[Otway] Zantzinger’s property deeds contain language that may not have raised eyebrows at the time, but today remind us of Hyattsville’s less than stellar history of racial exclusion—explicitly restricting residents of ‘Negro descent’ from owning the property—as well as prohibiting the making, selling and keeping of ‘spiritous liquors,'” the tour description notes.

These racial restrictions were once common throughout the United States. The land donated to become Magruder Park in 1927 even included a restriction noting that it was for white residents only, and all homes in University Park came with them. Though the Supreme Court ruled restrictive covenants based on race unconstitutional in 1948, they continued to be adhered to in private real estate sales and weren’t outlawed until the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Richard and Otway Zantzinger’s father, meantime, was also a real estate developer, whose biggest project was creating the Capitol Heights subdivision in 1904. As a history of that Prince George’s County community notes: “Advertisements noted that the segregated subdivision was intended for whites only.”

William Zantzinger, who died in 2009, declined to speak about the death of Hattie Carroll for years. But in a rare interview with Dylan biographer Howard Sounes, he called the future Nobel laureate a “no-account [expletive]” who had distorted the facts of the case.

“I should have sued him and put him in jail,” he said.

The Zantzingers’ restrictive covenants are now, thankfully, consigned to history, and today Hyattsville proudly cites its racial diversity as a strength. But “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” stands as a reminder of the not-so distant past.

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Hyattsville Signs Climate Mayors Pledge

Hyattsville joined a list of U.S. cities pledging to try to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Mayor Candace Hollingsworth signed a pledge from 279 mayors to move ahead with commitments to the climate change agreement, which President Trump withdrew from earlier this month.

“As 279 US Mayors representing 59 million Americans, we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement,” the statement from Mayors National Climate Action Agenda reads. “We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy.”

Hyattsville is only one of four Maryland cities on the pledge; the mayors of Baltimore, Takoma Park and Salisbury also signed.

The city is already certified through Sustainable Maryland, and the real efforts to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will come from things like shuttering coal plants, using more natural gas and renewable energy and raising car and truck mileage standards.

But like the vote in April to become Maryland’s second “sanctuary city”—essentially refusing on principle to cooperate with federal immigration authorities—the move sends a signal about the kind of community that Hyattsville wants to be seen as.

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Cajun Restaurant Headed to Hyattsville

Beclaws Hyattsville Cajun Asian fusion restaurant University Town Center

Photo of beignets from Flickr user @sabine01

A Cajun fusion restaurant is headed to Hyattsville.

BeClaws, which already has a location in Silver Spring, has applied for a liquor license for the spot in University Town Center formerly occupied by Flippin’ Pizza and posted signs at the location.

The restaurant bills itself as Cajun cuisine with an “Asian twist.” The menu leans heavily on seafood, with crawfish, shrimp, lobster and crab taking center stage, and traditional sides like corn on the cob, sausage and coleslaw.

But there are also Vietnamese influences, including Vietnamese coffee to go with your beignets, a house “Caj-sian sauce,” seafood pho and ramen. (Check out their Instagram for examples of both the Asian and Cajun sides of the menu.)

BeClaws CEO Vu Huynh also runs frozen yogurt chain Yogiberry.

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See Inside D.C. GlassWorks in Edmonston

D.C. GlassWorks is a glass-blowing and sculpture studio for everybody.

Located in a garage in an industrial park in Edmonston, the studio offers workshops and lessons for beginners, workshops for intermediate glass-blowers and rental space for professionals.

Beth Hess, a College Park artist featured in the video above, went from being a student at GlassWorks to leaving her job to pursue glass-making full-time three years ago.

If you’re interested, the best way to start at D.C. GlassWorks is to attend one of its regular open houses or take the plunge and sign up for a class. Long sleeves, pants and closed-toe shoes are recommended.

To learn more, contact D.C. GlassWorks at

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