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 University’s Board of Trustees. Succeeding U.S. Presidents appointed Douglass as DC recorder of deeds and ambassador to Haiti.
The “Sage of Anacostia” died at home on February 20,
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. around 1920.
National Park Ranger Gentry Davis describes Cedar Hill’s dining room, 1972.
For thousands of years a people called the Nacotchtanks lived here, trading and harvesting the riches
Two villages founded here in the mid-1800s, white Uniontown and African-American Barry Farm, developed separately for a century. Today’s Anacostia embraces both and is but one of some 30 neighborhoods located east of the Anacostia River. After 1900 this area grew with manufacturing and military installations. But during the 1960s, questionable government policies changed Anacostia drastically, leaving portions poor, overcrowded, and without adequate services. While many people left, those who stayed kept their communities strong, attracting new residents and investment as the 21st century began.
An East-of-the-River View: Anacostia Heritage Trail presents this complex history – and the best views in the city. Twenty signs take you on a two-mile walk ending at 13th and U Sts., SE. To return to the Anacostia Metro Station, walk to Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. and turn left, proceed six blocks to Howard Rd. and turn right. Or take Metrobus 92 from 13th St. and Good Hope Rd.
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Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 18.)
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 St. SE and 14th St. SE, on the right when traveling east on W St. SE. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20020, United States of America.
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); The Growlery (about 500 feet away); Uniontown, DC's First Suburb (about 500 feet away); Mother Churches and Their Daughters (about 700 feet away); Education Matters (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Big Chair (approx. 0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Big Chair (approx. ¼ mile away); The World’s Largest Chair (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Anacostia.
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Anthropology • Politics •
Credits. This page was last revised on January 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on September 17, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. This page has been viewed 462 times since then and 78 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.