Deanwood in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
From Gardens to Garden Apartments
A Self-Reliant People
—Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail —
Largely ignored by city officials and isolated from downtown DC, Deanwood remained semi-rural until around World War II (1941-1945).
Lifelong residents who grew up in the 1930s and '40s remember outsiders telling them that they lived in "the country." And in many ways they did, with gardens and laying hens in the yards of their handcrafted homes. Some residents rode horseback (often on animals purchased from Benning Racetrack) alongside the cars on Deanwood's dusty dirt roads. At least one resident continued boarding horses that competed at Laurel, Bowie, and Pimlico racetracks into the 1970s.
While most found peaceful Deanwood endearing, they also yearned for modern indoor plumbing and electricity. In the 1940s and '50s, the Northeast Boundary Civic Association and others finally persuaded city officials to build fully modern apartment complexes.
Suburban Gardens Apartments was one of those modernizing efforts. Begun in 1941, this 203-unit project to your right on the Jay Street ridge was designed by Harvey Warwick, an architect responsible for dozens of garden apartment complexes in the DC Metropolitan Area. The layout of the 13 two-story buildings included landscaped courtyards. These apartments opened during a severe citywide housing shortage that began when thousands came to help end the
Long a Country Town at the edge of Washington DC's urban center, Deanwood was forged out of former slave plantations during decades following the Civil War. It became one of Washington's earliest predominantly African American communities.
Greater Deanwood today encompasses the historic neighborhoods of Deanwood, Burrville, Lincoln Heights, and Whittingham.
In the 1800s, much of Washington's development followed decisions made by city leaders and investors, who favored areas northwest of Anacostia. Land here remained relatively untouched, and many streets were unpaved into the 1960s. Because builders chose not to apply racial restrictions on who could buy here, African American migrants found Deanwood welcoming, affordable, and convenient. The pioneering National Training School for Women and Girls, founded by Nannie Helen Burroughs (whose portrait appears on each Deanwood Heritage Trail sign), attracted educators to the neighborhood. New residents often built their own homes and created communities where for years no one locked their doors, adults treated all children as their own, and children behaved
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 6 of 15.)
Location. 38° 54.085′ N, 76° 55.894′ W. Marker is in Deanwood, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of Jay Street Northeast and 49th Street NE, on the right when traveling east on Jay Street Northeast. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4901 Jay Street NE, Washington DC 20019, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Whirl on the Ferris Wheel (was about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line but has been reported missing. ); With These Hands (about 800 feet away); Lederer Gardens (approx. 0.2 miles away); From Rural to Residential (approx. 0.2 miles away); National Training School for Women and Girls/ Nannie Helen Burroughs (approx. ¼ mile away); Shopping on Sheriff (approx. 0.3 miles away); Butterflies (approx. 0.3 miles away); A Day at the Picture Show (was approx. 0.4 miles away but has been reported missing. ). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Deanwood.
Also see . . . Suburban Gardens Site, African American Heritage Trail. (Submitted on February 17, 2018, by Devry Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland.)
Categories. • African Americans • Agriculture • Architecture • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on February 19, 2018. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page has been viewed 76 times since then and 12 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Jones of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Clear daylight photos of the marker. • Can you help?