As the historic gate, located at T and 6th NW, states grandly in painted iron, LeDroit Park was founded in 1873 as one of the District’s earliest suburbs. Located just over what was then the border of the city, this gated community, with tree-named streets and Victorian homes designed by James McGill, was the brainchild of developer Amzi L. Barber (known at the time as the “Asphalt King” due to his success as a pioneer in the industry). While it was initially an all-white neighborhood, its proximity to Howard University caused civil unrest, with students and residents of the adjacent neighborhood actually tearing the gates down in protest of the segregation.
It’s first African American inhabitant, barber Octavius Williams, moved into 338 U Street in 1893, cueing a shift from a wholly white suburb to what became a prestigious African American neighborhood. Throughout the past twelve decades, LeDroit Park has been home to prominent politicians (Senator Edward Brooke, Mayor Walter Washington and Reverend Jesse Jackson); arts luminaries Duke Ellington, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Willis Richardson; and honored military, civil rights activists, celebrated scientists and prominent educators.
Today, LeDroit Park is an official historic district, diverse and centrally located, with a mix of new construction and national historic landmarks. The mural “This Is How We Live” commissioned by the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities painted by artist Garin Baker in 2008 is just a block and a half away from a row of original McGill Victorians. Three blocks away from the National Historic Landmark, the Mary Church Terrell House at 326 T Street NW, is the Common Good City Farm which opened in 2011 with a Royal Visit from Prince Charles of Whales. A quiet neighborhood with a rich history, LeDroit Park offers a distinct community just steps away from the bustling energy of neighboring Shaw and U Street.