Bloomingdale in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Fathers and Sons
— LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail —
African Americans began attending St. Martin's around 1950, two years after Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle directed DC's white parishes and schools to integrate. The desegregation of public schools in 1954 and a suburban building boom accelerated white flight from Bloomingdale and other urban neighborhoods. By the early 1960s, the St. Martin's congregation was nearly all African American. Leslie Branch, whose family lived on the 100 block of U Street, was St. Martin's first black altar boy, and in 1982 he became the U.S. Navy's first black Catholic chaplain. His brother Edward also entered the priesthood. Because St. Martin's priests regularly visited parishioners' homes, Father
St. Martin's School operated across North Capitol Street at 62 T Street, NE, from 1912 until it closed in 1989. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, who lived in the convent next door, served as teachers. Their convent later became part of the Summit at St. Martin's apartments.
In the 1990s the North Capitol Street and Rhode Island Avenue Ecumenical Council formed to pressure city officials to clean up the neighborhood. St. Martin's worked on issues with Metropolitan Wesley AME Zion, just ahead at R Street, Mt. Pleasant Baptist at 215 Rhode Island Avenue, and St. George's Episcopal at Second and U Street. The council also launched festivals and wellness fairs.
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.
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
Erected 2015 by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 12.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the LeDroit Park/Bloomingdale Heritage Trail marker series.
Location. 38° 54.937′ N, 77° 0.559′ W. Marker is in Bloomingdale, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of T Street Northwest and North Capitol Street Northwest on T Street Northwest. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1908 North Capitol Street Northwest, 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. Dividing Line (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Metropolitan Wesley A.M.E. Zion Church (approx. 0.2 miles away); Bloomingdale (approx. 0.2 miles away); Home to Headliners (approx. ¼ mile away); Barnett Aden Gallery (approx. ¼ mile away); Anna Julia Hayward Cooper Residence (approx. 0.3 miles away); Great Expectations (approx. 0.3 miles away); Separate Schools (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bloomingdale.
Categories. • African Americans • Churches & Religion • Education •
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Credits. This page was last revised on March 21, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 95 times since then and 14 times this year. Last updated on March 8, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 23, 2017, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.