91. 3138-3146 O Street

Photo by Andrena Crockett

Slave pen on the south side of O Street where the homes at 3138-3146 O Street were built

A slave pen was located on this site prior to the construction of the 6 row houses in 1904. The slave pen stretched to from Wisconsin Ave. to 32th Street. The foundation’s stones at 3146 O Street (the home closet to the ally) are from the original slave pen. The base stones on the CVS parking lot retainer wall in the rear are reported to also be recycled from the slave pen.  Copperthite tore down the slave pen and built the six row homes.

Henry Copperthite came to Washington as a wagon driver during the Civil War and started The Connecticut Pie Company at 1403 Wisconsin at O Street where the current CVS Store now stands. As a child, Henry’s family worked as indentured servants on the Dunbar Plantation in Antigua in the West Indies. Slavery ended in the Caribbean in 1834 yet his family was not released until laws ended Servitude of Scotts, Irish, and others in the British West Indies in 1839. It then took until 1847 for the family to buy their way out of indentured servitude and make their way to America. In 1847, Henry C. Copperthite came from Antigua with his parents to Meriden, Connecticut. His parents were farmers.

During the Civil War, Henry Copperthite joined the famous 79th Highlanders of New York as a wagon driver and as a private came to Washington and was stationed at Georgetown College in 1861. The 79th fought at the Skirmish at Bailey’s Crossroads and at Chantilly, Virginia before engaging in major campaigns at the Battles of Manassas, Bull Run I and II, Fort Sanders Knoxville, Tennessee, and Antietam. Henry Copperthite was at Appomattox Court House for the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and then marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC for the Grand Review.

In 1885, on the eve of Thanksgiving with a wagon, horse, and $3.50 to his name he came to Georgetown and started baking pies and selling them from the back of the wagon and returned a one day profit of about $100 in today’s money. Twenty-five years after launching the Connecticut ~ Copperthite Pie Companies in Georgetown, Henry was producing over 50,000 pies a day in Washington, with factories on Capitol Hill, on M Street, and on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. By 1918, the Connecticut Pie Company had 230 wagons, 600 horses and 15,000 employees turning out over 50,000 pies a day. They were the largest non-government employer in the city serving over 125,000 slices a day and millions of pies a year that were consumed by the Nation’s Capital. Copperthite was also a great supporter of charitable causes across the city and owned a trotting mare for harness racing.