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Developed by Amzi Barber (Board of Trustees, Howard University) in the 1870s Ledroit Park was one of the first suburbs of Washington. Many of the area’s Victorian mansions, houses and row-houses were designed by architect James McGill.
Ledroit Park was developed and marketed as a “romantic” neighborhood with narrow tree-lined streets that bore the same names as the trees that shaded them. Originally the neighborhood did not follow the scheme for street names used in the rest of Washington DC. Extensive focus was placed on the landscaping of this neighborhood, as developers spent a large sum of money to plant flower beds and trees to attract high profile professionals from the city. LeDroit Park was even gated with guards to promote security for its hopeful residents.
Though intended for White residents only, Ledroit Park became integrated by Blacks after students from Howard University tore down the part of the fence that gated the community in protest of its discriminating policies.
By the 1940s Ledroit Park became a major focal point for the African-American elite as many prominent figures resided there. Griffith Stadium was also located here until the 1965, when the Howard University Hospital was built where it used to stand.
Ledroit Park includes Anna J. Cooper Circle, named for the education pioneer.
Ledroit Park residents have included:
- General William Birney – Civil War Veteran owned the stately mansion on Anna J. Cooper Circle. (T & Second Street)
- Senator Edward Brooke – First African American to win the senate seat by popular vote, was born in this house in 1919. (1938 Third Street)
- Dr. Ralph J. Bunche – The first African-American to receive the Nobel Peace prize for his mediation in Palestine; resided in LeDroit Park during his professorship at Howard University. — (No address found)
- General Benjamin O. Davis Sr. – The first African American general, commander of the World War II Tuskegee airman. (No address found)
- Hon. Oscar De Priest – First Black Congressmen since reconstruction, lived here for his three terms in office. (419 U Street)
- Paul Laurence Dunbar – Black Poet Laureate & Howard University Alumnus. (321 U Street)
- Duke Ellington – jazz legend, lived in the neighborhood with his family during his early childhood. (420 Elm Street)
- Major Christian Fleetwood – One of the first Blacks to be awarded the Medal of Honor. (319 U Street)
- Julia West Hamilton – Civic leader and member of N.A.C.W. (320 U Street)
- Rev. Jesse Jackson – Civil rights activist credited with starting the Rainbow/PUSH coalition. (Corner of Fourth & T Streets)
- Ernest Everett Just – Professor in Biology, researcher in Biogenetics with significant contributions to Zoology and Biogenetics. (No address found)
- Dr. Jesse Lawson and Dr. Anna J. Cooper – Both prominent educators who founded Frelinghuysen University to educate Blacks working-class adults. Lawson also was a Lawyer (Howard University Law, 1881) who advocated for the rights of poor D.C. residents. (201 T Street)
- Willis Richards – Prominent playwright credited with having the first serious play to be performed on Broadway. (512 U Street)
- Mary Church Terrell – Heiress and activist for civil rights and woman’s suffrage. (326 T Street, National Historic Landmark)
- Walter Washington – the first mayor of DC elected under home rule (408 T Street)
- Clarence Cameron White – A Prominent Violinist educator in fine arts and Howard Alumni (No address found)
- Dr. Garnet C. Wilkinson – Superintendent of Colored Schools during segregation. (406 U Street)
- Octavius Augustus Williams – U.S. Capitol Barber and first Black to integrate LeDroit Park (338 U Street)