Mount Pleasant in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Defying the Restrictive Covenants
Village in the City
—Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail —
In 1948 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that covenants prohibiting the sale of houses to individuals of certain races could not be enforced. Two years later, Dr. Robert Deane became the first African American to purchase a house in Mount Pleasant that carried the old covenant. But it wasn't easy.
The Deanes bought 1841 Park Road from Lillian Kraemer Curry. Curry had inherited the house, built in 1909, from her father Charles Kraemer, a German immigrant wine and spirits merchant. In the 1920s the all-white Mount Pleasant Citizens Associations began circulating a covenant binding homeowners never to sell their houses to "negroes." Kraemer and most of his neighbors signed it. Even though the Supreme Court had outlawed this practice, when Kraemer's daughter sold the hose to the prominent black gynecologist in 1950, a small group of neighbors sued to stop the sale based on the old covenant. The neighbors lost in court, and Dr. Deane owned the house until his death in 2001.
Although 1841 remained a single-family home, beginning in the 1930s housing shortages and tight budgets led some families to take in boarders. During the 1950s, Malvina Brown's Armenian-born parents rented rooms in their Park Road home to newcomers from Greece, Mexico, Turkey, and Venezuela.
As you continue to Sign 12, notice
From left, Linda, Marjel, and Sharon Deane pose in the side yard with their father, Dr. Robert Deane, 1956.
The Deane family elders gathered in the front hall of 1841 Park Rd., about 1950.
The house at 1841 Park still displays a German beer pitcher, right, and a moose head collected by original owner Charles Kraemer.
This 1891 advertisement promoted local Potomac Blue Stone as "cheaper than brick."
From left, Marina Rodriguez, a boarder, poses with Ebrouka and Malvina Brown. At right is Lily Jones, who rented rooms from a neighbor.
Below, Malvina Brown and her mother Ebrouka pose in front of their home, 1957. The Deane house is in the background.
Tucked into a bend in Rock Creek Park on the breezy heights above central Washington, Mount Pleasant was one of the city's earliest suburban developments. It began as a village of government clerks mainly from New England, and stretched from 17th Street east to Seventh Street. Later it attracted prominent citizens to its site along fashionable 16th Street, and eventually yielded the area east of 16th
The arrival of the streetcar transformed the village into an urban enclave. Working people and newcomers to Washington began to call Mount Pleasant home in the mid-1900s. Its varied citizenry earned it the nickname "little U.N." By the 1970s Mount Pleasant and Adams Morgan were recognized as the heart of the Latino immigrant community.
Mount Pleasant activists have often been on the cutting edge of important civic issues, and artists and musicians have been part of its daily life. While the neighborhood has changed with the city, some things remain constant. Children consider the National Zoo and Rock Creek Park their personal playgrounds, and residents shop and greet each other on Mt. Pleasant Street. Colonial Revival mansions, early apartment buildings, and rowhouses remain remarkably intact. A stroll along the 17 signs of Village in the City: Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail will introduce you to it all. Welcome!
Special thanks to the Mount Pleasang Heritage Trail Working Group: Neil Richardson, chair; Mara Cherkasky, Working Group historian; Jim Barnett, David Bosserman, Jeff Brechbul, Malvina Brown, Olivia Cadaval, Robert Frazier, Elinor Hart, Mary Hathaway, Dora Johnson, Edwin Hill Langrall, Jeff Logan, Carmen Marrero, Dennis Marvich, Ric Mendoza-Gleason, Louis Meyer, Galey Modan, Mary Mill Rojas, Michael Rosa, David Sitomer, and Terry Thielen. And also to Tanya Edwards Beauchamp, Mary Belcher, Joana Brown, Ginger Carter, Rodney Case, Ronald Chacon, Carmen Chapin, Shirley Cherkasky, Carole Clarke, Alan Darby, Sharon Deane, Malini Dominey, Larry Fredette, Will Grant, Joan Graumamn, Mary Gregory, Martha Grigg, Tony Grillo, Richard Hardy, Faye HAskins, Fred Haya III, Gregory Heller, Michael Heller, Luis Hernandez, Eddie Hicks, Jane Holt, Toni Johnson, Eliza A.B. Jones, Wayne Kahn, Ellen Kardy, Bill Katopothis, Brian Kraft, Ken Laden, Myrtle Lawson, Mary Leckle, Marshall Logan, Louise Legsdon, Linda Low, Rob Low, Jeanie Majeed, Gladys Mitchell, Gloria Mitchell, Mount Pleasant Business Association, Mount Pleasant Main Street Inc., Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Alliance, Michael Najarian, Mark Opsasnick, Ruby Priecanos, Ann Piesen, Rosanne Burch Piesen, Wes Ponder, Rick Reinhard, Vilma Rosario, Donald Schwarzz, Wosley Semple, Chris Shaheen, Ryan Shepard, Harold Silver, Kathryn S. Smith, Louise Townsend Smith, David Songer, Grace Tamborrelle, Fay Thompson, Honora Thompson, Leu Vondas, Tasso Vondas, Randy Waller, Dagmar Hasalova White, and Arthur Wong.
Village in the City: Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail is produced by Brendan Meyer, Jane Freundel Levey, Brett Weary, Mara Cherkasky, and Anne W. Rollins of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with the District Department of Transportation, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Develoopment, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail Working Group. The trail was supported by Historic Mount Pleasant.
2006, All rights reserved. Designed by Side View/Hanna Smotrich, Map by Larry Bowring.
The Smart Set women's club met in the basement rec room of 1841 Park Rd., 1950s. Hostess Miriam Deane is fifth from the left, in front. Scurlock Studio Photograph, collection of Sharon Deane
Erected 2006 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 11 of 17.)
Location. 38° 55.934′ N, 77° 2.568′ W. Marker is in Mount Pleasant, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on Park Road Northwest east of 19th Street NW, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1830 Park Road NW, Washington DC 20010, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Changing Fashions (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Nacotchtank Family at the Piney Branch Quarry, ca. 1600 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Twenty-seven Little Flags (approx. 0.2 miles away); War and Peace (approx. 0.2 miles away); Harvest at Pleasant Plains, ca. 1750 (approx. 0.2 miles away); Czech Row (approx. 0.2 miles away); A Village Comes to Life: Mount Pleasant after the Civil War (approx. 0.2 miles away); Voices at Vespers (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mount Pleasant.
Categories. • African Americans • Architecture • Civil Rights •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 3, 2018. This page originally submitted on December 24, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 86 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on December 24, 2017, by Devry Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.