LeDroit Park in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
—LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail —
Slowe Hall honors a celebrated Howard University women's dean, tennis champion, and co-founder of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the first national sorority for African Americans. In addition to housing young women, Slowe Hall offered meeting spaces that brought notables to the neighborhood. Constance Allen, who grew up nearby, recalled greeting Eleanor Roosevelt in 1943 when the first lady met here with Mary McLeod Bethune, a member of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet."
Charles E. Fairman, curator of the U.S. Capitol's art collection, lived at 325 U Street with his wife Mary from 1887 until the 1940s. Their neighbor across the street at 320 was Julia West
On your way to Sign 5, you will pass original McGill Victorian style houses and some replacements that mimic them. The nonprofit Manna, Inc., built 319-325 U STreet in 1997. Turn left on U Street to reach Sign 5.
LeDroit Park and its younger sibling Bloomingdale share a rich history here. Boundary Street (today's Florida Avenue) was the City of Washington's northern border until 1871. Beyond lay farms, a few sprawling country estates, and undeveloped land where suburban communities would rise. Nearby Civil War hospitals and temporary housing for the formerly enslaved brought African Americans to this area in the 1860s. Howard University opened just north of here in 1867. Boundary Street (today's Florida Avenue) was the City of Washington's northern edge until 1871.
Around this time, a Howard University professor and trustee and his brother-in-law, a real estate speculator, began purchasing land from Howard University to create LeDroit Park, a suburban retreat close to streetcar lines and downtown. It took its name from the first name of both Barber's son and father-in-law. Bloomingdale was developed shortly
For its first two decades, wealthy whites set up housekeeping in LeDroit Park. By 1893, African Americans began moving in. Soon LeDroit Park became the city's premier black neighborhood. Bloomingdale remained a middle- and upper-class white neighborhood until the 1920s, when affluent African Americans began buying houses in the area south of Rhode Island Avenue.
Among the intellectual elites drawn here was poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. The trail's title, Worthy Ambition, comes from his poem, "Emancipation": Toward noble deeds every effort be straining./Worthy ambition is food for the soul!
Although this area declined in the mid-20th century as affluent homeowners sought newer housing elsewhere, revitalization began in the 1970s. The stories you find on Worthy Ambition: LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail reflect the neighborhood's -- and Washington's -- complicated racial history and the aspirations on its citizens.
Worthy Ambition: LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided, 2.5-mile tour of 16 signs offers about 90 minutes of gentle exercise. For more DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
Erected 2015 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 4.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 55.01′ N, 77° 0.956′ W. Marker is in LeDroit Park, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 3rd Street Northwest and U Street Northwest on 3rd Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20001, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Christian Fleetwood and Sara Fleetwood Residence Site (within shouting distance of this marker); A Voice from the South (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Robert and Mary Church Terrell House (about 400 feet away); Anna Julia Hayward Cooper Residence (about 500 feet away); Separate Schools (about 500 feet away); Best in the Country (about 500 feet away); Elks Columbia Lodge No. 85 (about 600 feet away); T Street Elites (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in LeDroit Park.
Categories. • African Americans • Politics • War, World II • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 22, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 88 times since then and 16 times this year. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.