What You'll See!

Savor the solemn beauty of the Franciscan Monastery and the grandeur of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception as you explore this neighborhood nicknamed "Little Rome," home of Catholic University and more than 60 Catholic institutions.

Brookland is also home to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, which offers exhibits, special programs and more. And within a short drive of the neighborhood center, you can visit the city's oldest cemetery and the magnificent gardens of the U.S. National Arboretum.


Brookland evolved in the early 1870s, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad ran its western branch line through this area. The rail line was situated alongside a fine 1840 Greek Revival farmhouse known as the Brooks Mansion, home of Colonel Jehiel Brooks.

In the late 1880s, Catholic University was established just north of Colonel Brooks' farm. Developers quickly responded, creating a new Washington neighborhood beyond the central city and taking its name from Colonel Brooks. The university provided a centerpiece for a large number of Catholic institutions.

In the early days, Brookland, with its single-family, wood-frame houses in styles ranging from Queen Anne to Craftsman – attracted government workers, Smithsonian Institution scientists, and people of many ethnic backgrounds who shared the Catholic faith.

Examples of Brookland residential architecture include a Queen Anne style house at 3425 14th Street, NE; The Rodessa, a 1920s Sears and Roebuck catalogue house at 1518 Hamlin Street, NE; and a Victorian cottage at 1351 Otis Street, NE.

A Diverse PopuLation

In the 1930s, Brookland attracted affluent African Americans looking for an area that was not restricted to whites only. Of particular note are 13 International style houses designed by Hilyard Robinson and Howard H. Mackey, two of Washington's most prominent African American architects of the era. Robinson was responsible for the Ralph Bunche house, 1510 Jackson Street, NE, built for the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Many other prominent black Washingtonians made their home here, including the entertainer Pearl Bailey, the poet Sterling Brown, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Robert Weaver, Senator Edward Brooke, and historian Rayford Logan.

Still a racially mixed neighborhood today, Brookland enjoys an interesting history of civic activism. Most recently it rescued the Brooks Mansion, which still stands near the Brookland Metro station, a symbol of this community and its heritage.

Little Rome

The area's numerous Catholic institutions offer interesting architectural models and religious sculpture and have won the area the nickname of Little Rome. Here are significant resources for Catholic studies. Serious researchers are invited to use the libraries and collections of the Dominican House of Studies, the Marist College Library, Oblate College and Theology Library, and Trinity College.

For More Information

Check out our Calendar for up-to-date information on Brookland happenings.


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