In the Face of Racial Discrimination, a D.C. Family Builds a Property Legacy

Since 1916 and by one name or another, 233 12th St. SE in Washington has been a store — a landmark and meeting place of the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Christine Campbell, 59, recalls it always being Mott’s Market, even as it changed hands. “Grandmother would send us to the corner store to pick up things she needed for breakfast or dinner,” Ms. Campbell said. “My uncles would talk about playing the numbers at the corner. Mott’s served as a place where information was shared.”

But in the spring of 2022, the Choi family, which had owned the building, including the store, for 40 years, put it up for sale, stoking fears that it would be torn down or turned into something that wouldn’t fit the neighborhood.

Mott’s Market, undergoing renovations. Christine Campbell says the shop is 88 steps from the Walter Street home.Credit…Scott Suchman for The New York Times

Ms. Campbell began talking to her neighbors about how to stop the inevitable. The answer was simple: Buy the building.

That is what Ms. Campbell’s family has done for generations. The Campbell family has built a real estate legacy — starting in Charlotte Hall, Md., with Wesley Plater, Ms. Campbell’s great-grandfather, who worked as a sharecropper and was willed the land he tended, to 2020 when Ms. Campbell and her two brothers bought a bed-and-breakfast in Gettysburg, Pa. As the owners of the Keystone Inn, the Campbell siblings are the first Black hospitality proprietors in the historic home of the Battle of Gettysburg and President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

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