The African American Heritage Trail, Washington DC identifies sites that are important in local and national history and culture. The trail consists of a searchable database, a free booklet, and sites marked with historical plaques. During August, Cultural Tourism DC will install 13 new signs (detailed below), bringing the total number to 100, marking sites that are significant in the history of African Americans both and locally and nationally.
Location: 3815 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20011
Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks provided Washington’s African American community with an upscale venue for dining and socializing in the period between segregation and Home Rule. African American Congressmen, journalists, and federal officials met regularly at a “Round Table” at the restaurant led by owner William W. “Billy” Simpson.
Location: 319 U Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001
Christian Fleetwood (1840-1914) was one of the first African Americans to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroism at the Battle of Chaffin's Farm near Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War. He helped organize black militia and National Guard units in Washington.
Location: 3100 Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue, SE, Washington, DC, 20032
Real estate speculator Arthur E. Randle bought the old Knox Farm in 1890 and persuaded Congress to appropriate funds for a school to replace the old Giesboro School. An eight-room brick elementary school opened in 1897. In 1913 the school was modernized with more classrooms, a tower, and a clock.
Location: 931 R Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001
In 1918 Private Charles E. Gibson, along with two others, Private Frank Hall and Private Richard J. Holmes sought to petition for an all-black company. The fire department agreed and the following year, chose Engine Company No. 4, at 474 Virginia Avenue, SW, as the first all-African American company. In 1940, the DC Fire Department consolidated and moved Engine 4 to 931 R Street, NW.
Location: 1800 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20001
In 1906, a group of educators and leaders met at the home of Jesse and Rosetta C. Lawson, to organize a Washington branch of the Bible Educational Association with Kelly Miller as president. This group was renamed Frelinghuysen University, honoring Senator Frederick T. Frelinghuysen. The school provided social services, religious training, and educational programs for black working-class adults.
Location: 4918 Fitch Place, NE, Washington, DC, 20019
Howard D. Woodson, a civil engineer from Pittsburgh moved to Washington and began working as a structural engineer designing for: The Metropolitan Baptist Church, Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, Prudential Bank Building, and parts of Union Station. He was instrumental in urbanizing his neighborhood by pushing the city to provide educational, redevelopment, and utility services.
Location: 4621 Hunt Place, NE, Washington, DC, 20019
Brothers Jacob and Randolph Dodd were engaged in house-building trade and established a community tradition of building sound structures despite their limited access to materials. They bought framing and window sashes in bulk, and only installed them in the front and back of the houses to save money.
Location: 1333 R Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20009
James Lesesne Wells, an artist best known for his colored aquatints and innovative wood engravings, taught at Howard University in the Art Department for more than 30 years. He also founded the graphic arts department and had a long affiliation with the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.
Location: 2625 Stanton Road, SE, Washington, DC, 20020
Macedonia Baptist Church was organized in 1866 by Reverend James William Howard. It is considered the oldest black Baptist church in Anacostia. Along with the Hillsdale School, it is one of the early institutions built by Barry Farm residents.
Location: 1630 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20009
Vermont Avenue Baptist Church was formed as the Fifth Street Baptist Church in 1866. The church was led by Reverend John H. Brooks, who served as pastor from 1866 until 1884. From 1885 until 1910, Reverend George Wellington Lee led the church, greatly expanding the congregation.
Location: 1612 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20009
The Afro-American, founded in 1892 by John H. Murphy, Sr. is an independent weekly newspaper and one of the longest running black newspapers in the country.
Location: 902 T Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001
The Washington Conservatory of Music and School of Expression was founded in 1903 by concert pianist and educator Harriet Gibbs Marshall. Marshall worked to inspire and train African American musicians. The students studied piano, voice, string and wind instruments, ear training theory, the general history of music, Negro music, and public school music.
Location: 512 U Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001
Willis Richardson (1889-1977) was one of the most prolific playwrights of the 1920s. In 1923, his play, The Chip Woman's Fortune, made Richardson the first black playwright to have a nonmusical production on Broadway.
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