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Rose Park Playground was originally established in 1918 by the Ancient Order of the Sons and Daughters of Moses to serve African American children. It was known variously as Patterson's Park, Jacob's Park, or Winship's Lot. The city acquired it in 1922 and designated it a "colored" facility.

However, Rose Park was the main recreation center for Georgetown, and people ignored the segregation rules. Here children and adults (though not necessarily together) played basketball, volleyball, tennis, and dodgeball. They held folk dances, and learned crafts such as sewing and basketry as well as fine arts and music.

In the late 1930s the playground was remodeled by the DC Department of Recreation. When the Recreation Department placed a sign reading "For Coloreds Only" on the gate, the Rock Creek Civic Association protested and the sign was removed. In 1949 Rose Park became part of an official, successful experiment in nonsegregation organized by the American Friends Service Committee.

When the Department of Recreation began formally to "gradually" end the official segregation of the city's playgrounds, it acknowledged that Rose Park had always been one of the few integrated facilities.

Rose Park was the home court for Margaret and Roumania Peters, two tennis stars of the late 1930s who lived at 2710 O Street, NW. The sisters were recruited to play tennis at Tuskegee Institute where they consistently won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Roumania Peters Walker returned to teach tennis at Dunbar High School and Rose Park summer camps.

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