Mayfair Mansions, completed in 1946, is one of the city's earliest garden apartment complexes. Howard University Professor of Architecture Albert I. Cassell purchased the former Benning Race Track in 1942 in order to build the Colonial style project he conceived and designed. Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, founder of Washington's Church of God, became a major investor in the project. The project, which opened with more than 500 units, was an extension of Michaux's and Cassell's efforts to provide affordable housing for black residents. When completed, Mayfair Mansions was a first-class complex offering a welcome housing opportunity for working- and middle-class blacks who were excluded from housing elsewhere because of racially restrictive housing covenants. It was listed on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register for Historic Sites in 1989.

Albert I. Cassell was one of Washington's leading architects. He was born in 1895 in nearby Towson, Maryland. After service in the U.S. Army during World War I, Cassell completed his architectural degree at Cornell University in 1919. A year later, he joined the Architecture Department at Howard University. Cassell is largely responsible for Howard University's campus, having produced its Master Plan for expansion in 1930. He designed and built most of the buildings surrounding its quadrangle, including the Medical School, Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall, and Founders Library. After leaving Howard University in 1938, Cassell went on to design dozens of Washington area buildings, including the James Creek Dwellings, public housing in Southwest.


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