Peter Bug Way

Peter Bug Way

The 400 block of 13th Street SE in the Nation’s Capital became “Peterbug Matthews Way” last Saturday. It’s named after the community leader who founded and runs the Peter Bug Shoe and Leather Repair Academy in a small building on the corner of 13th and E Streets, SE.

John “Peter Bug” Matthews, a fifth-generation Washingtonian, has been training young men as cobblers since 1977. He became known as “Peter Bug” because of an old VW he fixed up and drove years ago. Members of his Academy, some as young as 8 years old, commit to learning a trade, keeping up their grades, and performing public service. Leather repairs and other part-time jobs help them earn money without getting into trouble. Some of the shoes young apprentices learn to fix are donated, and well-repaired shoes are given to families unable to afford new footwear.

A product of DC’s Tyler Elementary, Randall Junior High, Phelps Vocational School, and Federal City College, Mr. Matthews now teaches at Phelps High as well as running his Academy. He also finds time to encourage youth sports (including Watkins Pee Wee Football and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament) and participate in community affairs and politics.  There’s even a Peter Bug Book Club summer reading program.

The Academy’s alumni association, the Shoe Shop Boyz, puts on an annual Peter Bug Children’s Day festival each May. In true Peter Bug fashion, the event raises money for youth activities and sports. Last year’s festival featured bands, horses, barbecue, and a parade which included the bicycle polo players who compete at Watkins Rec Center.

If your belts, purses, or shoes need repairs, your car needs washing, or you fancy some tasty barbecue, stop by the Academy. You can’t miss it. It’s on the corner of E Street SE and Peter Bug Way.

Peter Bug Shoe and Leather Repair Academy
1320 E Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
(202) 689-4549
 Map and Directions

(Above: John “Peter Bug” Matthews)


Photos by Martha Loomis; re-use requires attribution. Download images here and here. 

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