Mahaning Heights in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
From Gambling to Garden Apartments
A Self-Reliant People
— Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail —
Beginning in 1890, Benning was the best-equipped race course in Washington. Some of the nation's leading thoroughbreds had their first runs on Benning's finely cushioned, sandy training grounds. Presidents and plumbers alike attended and placed bets, inspiring the Evening Star to declare: "Nowhere may such a cosmopolitan crowd be seen as at Benning."
In 1908 reform laws ended legal gambling at Benning. Nevertheless and despite the loss of the elegant grandstand to fire in 1915, horse training and automobile races continued into the early 1930s. Although Congress debated bills to revive betting, religious reformers and animal rights activists defeated them, and the race track closed for good.
In 1942 Howard University Architecture Professor Albert I. Cassell (1895-1969) purchased the old racing ground to build Mayfair Mansions, the expansive Colonial style apartment complex he designed. Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux, famed Washington evangelist
Mayfair Mansions opened in 1946, at a time when housing covenants severely limited options for African Americans. The complex provided 500 first-rate, affordable units to working- and middle-class families. Of the development, Elder Michaux said, "Some people talk about going to Heaven and living well. I believe in people living well down here."
Mayfair Mansions, one of the city's earliest garden apartment complexes was listed on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Erected 2009 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 14.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Architecture • Sports. In addition, it is included in the Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities 🎓 series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1890.
Location. 38° 53.99′ N, 76° 56.703′ W. Marker is in Mahaning Heights in Washington, District of Columbia. Marker is at the intersection of Minnesota Avenue Northeast and Hayes Street Northeast, on the right when traveling north on Minnesota Avenue Northeast. Touch for map. Marker is at or Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "We're Not Forgotten" (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mayfair Mansions / Albert I. Cassell (approx. 0.2 miles away); “What Magic Has Been Wrought Here” (approx. 0.2 miles away); 100 Years of Afro-American History (approx. ¼ mile away); Eastland Gardens (approx. ¼ mile away); Designed to Compete (approx. 0.3 miles away); Fort Mahan (approx. 0.4 miles away); Shaping Strong Minds (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mahaning Heights.
Also see . . . Mayfair Mansions/Albert Cassell, African American Heritage Trail. (Submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on October 20, 2020. It was originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 229 times since then and 6 times this year. Last updated on March 7, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on July 4, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on October 20, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 4. submitted on August 18, 2018, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.