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August 20, 2019

Finding the right name for a person, pet, car (if that’s your thing), or business is often hard, even agonizing. Trusted friends and family may be asked to opine, professional help sought as the invisible and mercurial consequences of an “imperfect” decision weigh over even the most confident souls. And then, sometimes, we get lucky. Serendipity unveils a name that immediately feels just right. No hand-wringing is necessary.  That’s the way it was for “The Lockwood.”

Not long after purchasing the land that held a trash truck transfer station and an auto repair shop for redevelopment into a boutique apartment building, the developers, while doing a volunteer clean-up day at the neighboring Congressional Cemetery, ran across the tombstone of one Belva Lockwood. When a volunteer docent at the Cemetery mentioned that Belva had been an under-appreciated mover and shaker at the turn of the 20th century who had run for the presidency in 1884 and again in 1888, the inspiration for the new community’s name struck and the die was cast. 

As the development team delved into Belva’s history and realized that she was challenging the status quo at the time many homes were being built on Capitol Hill, her iconoclast life during that era became a touchstone for influencing the new building’s design and spirit.

Belva Lockwood was an American feminist and lawyer who served as a voice for those who were silenced, including Native American tribes. The first woman to enroll and graduate from the George Washington law school, Belva was the first female lawyer to practice before the Supreme Court, and many argue, the first woman to run for President of the United States. She also had a unique personal aesthetic. Known for riding her famous oversized tricycle around town, she wore only velvet gowns (sans a corset) and often paraded around with her pet parrot. She emphatically chose to stand out among the crowd.

And while Belva’s riotous and righteous personality inspired the development team, her last name through marriage — “Lockwood” — also has a nice ring to it. It feels rooted in a specific place and time. There is a warmth in the “L” and the “O’s” and the “W” that rolls off the tongue. Its signifiers may push your unconscious to imagine an ancient forest or door lock. It may remind you of a narrator or a place in a Bronte or Austen novel. It is quiet but solid, understated, yet resonant — qualities which make for a good place to call home.