Logan Circle in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
“Contraband” to Community
A Fitting Tribute
— Logan Circle Heritage Trail —
After the Civil War broke out in 1861, thousands walked away from bondage. When some sought shelter at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, Union General Benjamin Butler allowed them to stay as “contrabands of war” or captured enemy property. Soon men, women, and children poured into Washington and other Union territories seeking new lives. In 1862, as housing near the Capitol and Navy Yard was overwhelmed, the Army relocated the formerly enslaved to wooden barracks built here for Captain Charles Bakers' Chicago Dragoons.
In 1862 Camp Barker reportedly housed 4,000 people. Overcrowding led to deadly epidemics, despite the camp's health facility. Contraband (later Freedmen's Hospital), was led by Major Alexander T. Augusta, M.D. the nation's first African American commissioned medical officer. Many refugees left for Freedmen's Village. Others remained here, in a growing community.
President Abraham Lincoln occasionally visited Camp Barker from his summer retreat at the Soldiers' Home, about
Vermont Avenue Baptist Church, just ahead to the right, was founded to serve the community seeded by Camp Barker. The politically active church attracted eminent speakers. In 1956 the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke to the congregation.
Sidebar (on reverse):
The Logan Circle Neighborhood began with city boosters' dreams of greatness. The troops, cattle pens, and hubbub of the Civil War (1861–1865) had nearly ruined Washington, and when the fighting ended, Congress threatened to move the nation's capital elsewhere. So city leaders raced to repair and modernize the city. As paved streets, water and gas lines, street lights, and sewers reached underdeveloped areas, wealthy whites followed. Mansions soon sprang up around the elegant park where Vermont and Rhode Island Avenues met. The circle was named Iowa Circle, thanks to Iowa Senator William Boyd Allison. In 1901 a statue of Civil War General (and later Senator) John A. Logan, a founder of Memorial Day, replaced the park's central fountain. The circle took his name in 1930. The title of this Heritage Trail comes from General Logan's argument that Memorial Day would serve
As the city grew beyond Logan Circle, affluent African Americans gradually replaced whites here. Most of them moved on during World War II, and their mansions were divided into rooming houses to meet a wartime housing shortage. By the 1960s, with suburban Maryland and Virginia drawing investment, much of the neighborhood had decayed. When civil disturbances erupted after the 1968 assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it hit bottom. Ten years later, however, long-time residents, newcomers, and city programs spurred revival. A Fitting Tribute: Logan Circle Heritage Trail takes you through the neighborhood's lofty and low times to introduce the array of individuals who shaped its modern vitality.
Erected 2012 by Cultural Heritage, DC. (Marker Number 5.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Logan Circle Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 54.754′ N, 77° 1.688′ W. Marker is in Logan Circle, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of R Street Northwest and Vermont Avenue Northwest, on the left when traveling west on R Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1210 R Street Northwest, Washington DC 20009, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers Vermont Avenue Baptist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Like a Village (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Logan Circle Cistern and BayScape (about 400 feet away); Alain Locke Residence (about 600 feet away); Washington Afro-American Newspaper Office Building (about 700 feet away); Logan Circle, Just Ahead (about 700 feet away); Edward “Duke” Ellington Residence (about 800 feet away); Engine Company No. 4 (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Logan Circle.
Categories. • African Americans • War, US Civil •
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Credits. This page was last revised on June 14, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 13, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 539 times since then and 6 times this year. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. submitted on December 13, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.