Anacostia in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
The Sage of Anacostia
An East-of-the River View
— Anacostia Heritage Trail —
President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Douglass to the prestigious position of U.S. marshal for the District of Columbia in 1877. Soon after, Douglass purchased the country retreat of bankrupt Uniontown founder John Van Hook in a mostly white neighborhood and named it Cedar Hill. His sons lived in the adjacent, mostly African-American, Hillsdale community.
From his hilltop porch Douglass could look out across his acres of fruit and vegetable gardens and down upon the official Washington that so often disrespected him because of his race. Active in local as well as national affairs, Douglass hosted gatherings at Cedar Hill, spoke frequently at local churches, and served on Howard
The “Sage of Anacostia” died at home on February 20, 1895. His widow, Helen Pitts Douglass, left Cedar Hill to the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association upon her death in 1903. Despite volunteer maintenance and fundraising, the house fell into disrepair. Eventually Congress answered community demands and appropriated funds for the National Park Service to acquire and restore the home. It opened to the public in 1972. The visitors’ center entrance is a short distance ahead on W Street.
To reach Sign 19, cross 14th St. and walk one block downhill on W, then turn right on 13th St.
Neighborhood volunteers organized by the Anacostia Coordinating Committee joined federal laborers to maintain Cedar Hill over the years.
For 34 years Gladys Parham, seen in Cedar Hill’s parlor, served as the caretaker while campaigning for the home’s restoration.
Douglass’s first wife, Anna, left, died at Cedar Hill in 1882 at age 69. Two years later he married his former clerk, suffragist Helen Pitts (seated with Douglass and Helen’s sister Eva).
Frederick Douglass at work in the west parlor of Cedar Hill.
Neighborhood children prepare to toboggan down W St.
National Park Ranger Gentry Davis describes Cedar Hill’s dining room, 1972.
Erected 2013 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 18.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Anthropology & Archaeology • Government & Politics. In addition, it is included in the Anacostia Heritage Trail, and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities series lists.
Location. 38° 51.846′ N, 76° 59.135′ W. Marker is in Anacostia, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of W Street Southeast and 14th Street Southeast, on the right when traveling east on W Street Southeast. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20020, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Frederick Douglass's Rustic Retreat (about 500 feet away); Uniontown, DC's First Suburb (about 500 feet away); Mother Churches and Their Daughters (about 700 feet away); Rose's Row (approx. 0.2 miles away); Education Matters (approx. 0.2 Transit and Trade (approx. ¼ mile away); The Big Chair (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anacostia.
Credits. This page was last revised on September 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 17, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 618 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 17, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 5, 6, 7. submitted on July 21, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 8, 9, 10. submitted on August 7, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.