Brentwood

Northeast, Washington D.C.

Brentwood is located in the Northeast part of Washington, DC. In present day the historic roads surrounding Brentwood, combined with the local metro and Amtrak lines create a trapezoid. It is served by the Rhode Island Ave-Brentwood Metro station. The neighborhood was named after Brentwood Mansion which was built in 1817 by the first mayor of Washington City, Robert Brent, as a gift to his daughter Eleanor when she married Joseph Pearson.

Brentwood mansion and surrounding property were passed down from generation to generation within the Pearson family, with periods of neglect, until 1889 when Lt. Francis Winslow (II) resigned from the Navy to focus on developing, subdividing, renting and selling parts of the property. After he died in 1908 the remaining property, including the mansion, was left vacant. This led to the mansion catching fire in 1917 and burning beyond repair. The land then became the site of a World War I Army staging camp, ‘Camp Meigs’, before the remaining ruins of the mansion were demolished in 1919. Part of the property later became the first lumberyard for the Hechinger Company.

Francis Winslow (III) took over management of the Brentwood Patterson/Winslow land in the 1920’s and is most remembered for the development of the Union Market which still operates today as the city’s principal wholesale food and produce market. In the 1940s the District of Columbia used eminent domain to acquire a large portion of the Patterson land known as “square 710”, where the ATF headquarters was built. There is still speculation about whether the government compensated the family adequately, as was required by law, for seizing the property.

After Francis Winslow III’s death in 1948 his brother Cameron became trustee of the remaining property. Then realizing that none of the younger generation of the family was interested in managing the property, and unable to do it himself, Cameron started selling it all off in the 1950s, completing the last of the sales in the 1960s. Much of the last parcels of the original estate, assembled more than 200 years prior, were acquired by or donated to Gallaudet University, a prominent school for the deaf. One of the university’s residence halls is said to be built on the site of the original Brentwood Mansion.