J. Kirkpatrick Flack — known to some as Kirk and to others as Jim — is a retired University of Maryland history professor (and volunteer assistant baseball coach). His academic interests are American urban and social history of the 19th and 20th centuries, and the District of Columbia in particular; historic preservation; and baseball history.
What got him started on A House History? When he got the plaque for 3125 Northampton, through the program sponsored by the Chevy Chase Citizens’ Association and HCCDC, he realized that he had “a file cabinet full” of notes about his house, and that he should put the information into coherent form, for his family, for HCCDC, and for the community at large. And he fell into a chronic problem for historians: research leads from one document to many more.
Flack found much information on the career of John W. Kearney, the architect of his house and five others in the Spanish Colonial Revival style in the 3100 block of Northampton, but personal information about Kearney proved hard to come by. Similarly, he traced the careers of realtor/developer Fulton R. Gordon and builder Robert E. Price, and interviewed a descendant of Gordon’s. Flack got information about earlier occupants and owrers of his own house from U.S. Census records.
His extensive footnotes reflect his own broad knowledge of U.S. social history, architecture, baseball, and much else, and his use of a wide variety of local research sources. He found numerous photos and commissioned a map of the neighborhood that shows his and many other houses by Kearney, Gordon and/or Price.
How did Flack decide when it was time to publish? Essentially, he said, the process is never really over, but he was writing as his research proceeded. Finally, he reached a point at which he realized he wasn’t likely to learn anything more about the three principal subjects of his research. Now, he’s looking forward to celebrating 3125 Northampton’s 100th birthday.