Thomas Law, was born October 23, 1756, at Cambridge, England and christened at Little St. Mary's, Cambridge. Mr. Law was the sixth son of Right Reverend Edmund Law, D.D., Lord Bishop of Carlisle, and Mary. Early on Mr. Law had amassed a small fortune in his dealing with the East India Company and by 1795 he had moved to Washington DC. In 1796 he married Elizabeth Park Custis the granddaughter of George Washington.
Mr. Law invested most of his savings in real estate in Washington and had several properties located in and around Near Southeast and Southwest (one of his properties is still standing in SW). He made his mark in Southeast by establishing a sugar refinery. The sugar refinery (aka The Sugar House) was the first and largest manufacturing enterprises in early Washington DC. "The main building was eight stories high and the wing five." The industry was started about the middle of 1798, but was short lived, partly because of differences between the co-promoters of the refinery. The refinery remained idle for several years, but business was resumed in 1808 but as a brewery but that was short lived and closed in 1811. In 1817 the site reopened again as a brewery and was named Coote's brewery. By the 1840s the building was a mass of ruins and was torn down around1847. Sometime after 1847 the site was used fas a lumber yard (Smith Lumber Yard). Today the WASA Pumphouse occupies the site (see picture below from 1925).
The sugar refinery is visible in the painting by George Cooke, "City View of Washington from Beyond the Navy Yard, 1833". It the reddish/brown building to the left of the white navy yard building and directly above the tree on the Anacostia side of the river that is painted over the Eastern Branch.
Site of Sugar House in 1925
Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Washington DC