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My great-grandmother’s first cousin Elijah Tindell lived at 617 Florida Ave. NW for more than a decade. The building– the one with the black door– now houses the Partnership for Civil Justice

I have driven up and down Florida Avenue NW countless times. What I didn’t know is that this is where one of my relatives called home more than 80 years ago.

For a while, I’ve been fascinated by Elijah Tindell, one of my great-grandmother’s first cousins. I’ve been piecing together Tindell’s life using recollections and public records. During a chat with one of my distant cousins last fall, I learned that Elijah Tindell lived in Washington D.C. for a while and worked for the federal government.

City directories confirm this fact. Elijah Tindell was a longtime resident of the District’s Shaw neighborhood and lived at 617 Florida Avenue NWfor more than a decade. In 1928, Elijah Tindell had moved a few yards away, to 635 T St NW, into a home directly across the street from the Howard Theatre. (We believe he lived in this area because of its proximity to Howard University, which he attended).

Washington DC’s historic Howard Theatre. My cousin Elijah Tindell lived across the street from this theatre during the 1920s and 1930s.

And now for context… my cousin was living in Washington’s black cultural hub during its. This is where jazz great Duke Ellington was born and raised. This is where the talented earned their way to legendary status. And my cousin was living in the middle of it all.

The last city directory available that I found Elijah Tindell in was 1939, which means he lived in DC for at least 15 years. In most of the directories, the letters GPO appear by his name– that stands for Government Printing Office, as in U.S. Government Printing Office. This confirms what I had been told about Elijah Tindell’s federal government career.

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