Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cedar Hill - The Frederick Douglass Home

When most visitors and residents of DC think of the Anacostia neighborhood, the first thing that comes to mind is a high crime rate, liquor stores, wig shops, and check cashing stores, and while much of that is true, there are sites worth seeking out. I had always wanted to visit the home of Frederick Douglass, who is one my personal heroes, but didn't get a chance to visit until I came upon while returning from an ill fated birding search in Ft. Dupont Park (another story).

Frederick Douglass was born around 1818 and lived until 1895 and had many noteworthy accomplishments - he was an American abolitionist, women's suffragist, editor, orator, author, statesman, minister and reformer. Having escaped from slavery, he made strong contributions to the abolitionist movement, and achieved a public career that led to his being called "The Sage of Anacostia" and "The Lion of Anacostia". I knew his home would be interesting but the site is a marvel of one man's accomplishments.

The home has a pleasing scale and architectural style, that while Victorian, is not too "fussied" up with the elaborate detailing we associate with that era. Perhaps most importantly, the home contains so many of his personal effects, from furniture and art to books and bassinets, it seemed he might stroll out of his study at any moment.

I'm always searching out good views and the one from his grounds provided one of the best panoramas in Washington D.C. The site is located on a large hill, so I could see the Washington Monument, the Pentagon, and the Capital Building. Although much has changed since Douglass’ day, some landmarks would have been familiar to him including the dome of the U.S. Capitol, Library of Congress and the newly completed Washington Monument.

Douglass is one of the most prominent figures in African American and United States history. I admire him so much because he was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant. He was fond of saying, "I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong."

The Frederick Douglass NHS  Visitor Center is located at:
1411 W Street SE, Washington DC 20020 

Public Transportation:

By Metro

Get off at the Anacostia stop on the Green Line and take the B2 bus in the direction of Mt. Ranier. There is a bus stop directly in front of the Douglass home at the corner of 14th and W streets.  Continue along the sidewalk in the direction the bus is traveling until you reach the visitor center (15th and W Streets SE).

Visit Metro's website for more information.

Getting here by car:

From I-495/95 Beltway

Take Exit 3 north onto Indian Head highway (MD 210), which becomes South Capitol Street. Bear right onto  Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Turn right on W Street for four blocks. The visitor center parking lot will be on your right. 

From the National Mall

Travel South on 9th Street to I-395 north. Exit onto I-295 south and cross the 11th Street Bridge. Exit onto Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue. Turn left on W Street for four blocks. The visitor center parking lot will be on your right. 

From I-295 South

Take exit 3B for Howard Road and turn left onto Howard Road. Turn left onto Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.  Turn right onto W street, the site will be 4 blocks down on the right. 

If you have a group of 11 or more, you will not be able to see the house without a reservation. 

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