Capitol Hill Restoration Society

William Costin’s Remarkable Story – Overbeck Lecture

Posted on October 15th, 2022

William Costin is the subject of an Overbeck Lecture, Monday, November 7, 2022 at 7:30 pm at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

William Costin, an African-American residing on Capitol Hill during the early years of Washington City, was honored at his sudden death in 1842 by a large funeral procession and the commissioning of a remarkable lithograph portrait labeled “A tribute to worth by his Friends.” His death was reported by the Baltimore and Washington newspapers and a tribute to him was included in a speech by John Quincy Adams during a debate in the House of Representatives. Costin owned and lived with his family in one of the houses built right next to the Capitol. But despite his contributions, popularity, and success as an adult, there are no records of his birth and only a contradictory oral history of his background.

Steve Livengood, Public Historian and Chief Guide at the US Capitol Historical Society, will highlight William Costin’s life in early Washington – a remarkable story involving a famous family and a recent acknowledgment of a most remarkable relative they should be proud of. This is just one small story from Creating Capitol Hill: Place, Proprietors, and People, developed and published by the USCHS. After the lecture, copies of the book and other merchandise from the US Capitol Historical Society will be available for sale.

The lecture will be held in-person on Monday, November 7, 7:30 pm, at Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.  As always admission is free but a reservation is required due to limited seating. Seating will begin at 7 pm for those who hold reservations. Available seats will be released to guests on the Wait List beginning at 7:15 pm. Reserve through the Hill Center ( after October 18 or call 202-549-4172. Please contact Hill Center if you hold a reservation and find that you cannot attend.

The Overbeck Lecture series adheres to Hill Center health requirements. At present proof of vaccination against COVID is required, however masks are optional. These requirements may change so check the Hill Center website for updated policies (

Overbeck lectures are supported by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation. For more information on the lecture series, visit