Columbia Heights in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
—Columbia Heights Heritage Trail —
Wayland Seminary opened in Foggy Bottom just after the Civil War to train formerly enslaved people and others as “preachers and teachers for the South” and as missionaries to evangelize Africa. In 1875 it moved here, later merging with Richmond Theological Seminary to become Virginia Union University in Richmond. Among Wayland’s distinguished alumni was Booker T. Washington.
Just two blocks up the hill is the former site of George Washington University’s predecessor, Columbian College. Founded by Baptist missionaries in 1821, Columbian gave the area the nickname “College Hill.”
Some 24 years before Wayland Seminary’s arrival, landowner Col. Gilbert Livingston Thompson and his wife, Mary Ann Tolley Thompson, attended, attended a Prince George’s County slave auction and purchased Emily Saunders Plummer and three of her children to serve them here. After Emancipation, Plummer’s son Henry returned to attend Wayland Seminary.
The Thompson home, which stood where 16th Street is today, was built in the early 1800s by Commodore David Porter, who called his estate “Meridian Hill.” During the Civil War, it was used as a hospital.
By the 1870s, Thompson’s land was subdivided into building lots, and a working-class community of mostly African Americans developed.
Erected 2009 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 15 of 19.)
Location. 38° 55.29′ N, 77° 2.109′ W. Marker is in Columbia Heights, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 15th Street, NW and Chapin Street, NW, on the right when traveling north on 15th Street, NW. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20009, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. An American Meridian (within shouting distance of this marker); Visionary and Park Champion (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Creating the "City Beautiful" (about 300 feet away); Design Challenges (about 300 feet away); Park Designers (about 300 feet away); Art for the People Washington Meridian (about 300 feet away but has been reported missing); Mansions, Parks, and People (about 300 feet away).
More about this marker. [Caption, photogaph in upper left:]
Wayland Seminary alumnus Booker T. Washington, center, enjoyed a Negro Business League boat ride in Baltimore, 1908. (Collection of Carolyn Howard French.)
[Caption, photograph in upper center:]
Wayland Seminary’s main building, Coburn Hall, opened in 1875. (Collection of Lynn C. French.)
[Caption, photographs in upper right:]
Emily Saunders Plummer, left, served the Thompson family of Meridian Hill as an enslaved woman. All that remained of the Thompsons’ estate by 1900 was this brick farm house, above. (Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum. Commission of Fine Arts.)
[Caption, photogaphs in center right:]
Bakery delivery, below, on 15th St. These houses and those on Euclid St., right, were torn down in 1912 for the [Meridian Hill] park. (Commission of Fine Arts.)
[Caption, photogaph in lower right:]
The corner store at Euclid and 15th Sts. once served the College Hill community. (Commission of Fine Arts.)
[Caption, photogaph in
Union army hospital tents spread out alongside Columbian College during the Civil War.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Wayland Seminary. (Submitted on October 26, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Other Columbia Heights Heritage Trail markers entered in the Historical Marker database. (Submitted on October 30, 2009.)
Additional keywords. Reconstruction; Chaplain Henry Vinton Plummer, U.S. Army.
Categories. • African Americans • Antebellum South, US • Education • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,811 times since then and 124 times this year. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 10. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 11, 12, 13. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on September 10, 2016.