Capitol Hill Restoration Society

The Razzle-Dazzle: Mary Ann Shiner Almarolia – Overbeck Lecture

Posted on January 10th, 2019

Capitol Hill History will present at Overbeck Lecture, Mary Ann Shiner Almarolia (1833-1904), Monday, March 11, 2019 at 7:30 p.m. at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.  

Dr. Mark Herlong will discuss the life and adventures of a little-known Capitol Hill resident, Mary Ann Shiner Almarolia (1833-1904).  Mary was the daughter of Michael Shiner, the black Navy Yard worker and politician whose famous diary is housed at the Library of Congress.  As an infant, she was kidnapped by slave traders and freed by her father’s heroic efforts.  In an era when mixed marriages and opportunities for blacks were rare, Mary married an Italian and ran a string of successful businesses on Capitol Hill, including hotels, restaurants, a bawdy house, a nursery and a dance hall called the Razzle-Dazzle (a.k.a. The Burning Rag).  In the late 19th century she was considered one of the most influential women in Washington, a confidant of politicians and diplomats – and a possible murderer.

Admission is free, but a reservation is required due to limited seating. Reservations will be accepted through the Hill Center website.

To register, go to or call 202-549-4172.  The organizers suggest that all guests arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the event. The doors will open at 7:00 for those who hold reservations. Available seats will be released to guests on the wait list beginning at 7:15. If you hold a reservation and find that you cannot attend, please contact the organizers

For more information on the lecture series, visit