Northeast of Main Street, African-Americans found rental and ownership opportunities along East and Fleet Streets. Although both streets were fully platted by the late 1700s, extensive subdivision did not begin until the mid-1800s. Lumber merchants, builders, and grocers who had saved sufficient capital invested in the lots and built "tenements," that is, rental properties of simple rowhouses in groups of twos and threes, for the growing working class, largely African-American.
East Street Becomes a Neighborhood
Approximately 35 properties were built on East Street between 1820 and 1920. A few of these replaced earlier structures, but most represent 19th century trends in urban housing. Built of wood with little or no ornamentation, these narrow dwellings were only two rooms deep with an entrance and single window on the first floor and two windows on the second floor. Slightly more than one-third of these properties were either owned or rented by African-American families. Many of the houses provided inexpensive dwellings for the laborers, carpenters and cobblers who worked at the Naval Academy. East Street, like Duke of Gloucester, became the neighborhood of a few free black families prior to Emancipation. In the 1850s, James Holliday, identified in land records as a "free person of color," purchased 97, 99, and 101 East Street. 99 East Street is still owned by a Holliday descendent.
A School on East Street
Education came to East Street in 1868 when the Order of the Galilean Fisherman opened a school at 91 East Street in association with the Free Seat M.E. Church. The Annapolis chapter of the Galilean Fisherman was incorporated in 1865 to provide education for the city's African- American children. The order's efforts preceded by several years the struggling public initiative to found the Stanton School, built by 1878 on West Washington Street. By 1885, the Galilean's "Free School" had grown from two-stories to the four-stories surviving today. Although the order continued into the 20th century, the school was closed in the late 1890s, about the time the Stanton School received increased public funds and was rebuilt as a two-story brick school house. Galilean Hall served the African-American community as a location for offices and a social hall until l908 and today provides apartment housing.