DEANWOOD'S HISTORY

A Legacy of Pride

Tucked just inside the city’s eastern border, the triangular area is bounded by Eastern Avenue on the northeast, Kenilworth Avenue on the northwest, Division Avenue on the East, and Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue on the South. The foundations of Deanwood’s history are the Benning-Sheriff-Lowrie-Dean and Fowler farms, both carved from a 1703 land grant.


Always known for its self-reliance, Deanwood was a stable nucleus of blue- and white-collar Black families that passed their skills on to family members or to their neighbors. This network enhanced the strong sense of economic independence and self-reliance of Deanwood’s Black community. Some of Washington’s black architects who designed buildings for Deanwood include Lewis Giles, Sr., H.D. Woodson (for whom the high school is named), and George A. Ferguson

The rich history of the Deanwood neighborhood was in danger of being lost and forgotten with the prevalence of land development. The Deanwood History Committee, with support from the Loyd D. Smith foundation, delved into several facets of the locale’s history to preserve the legacy and stories of the previous generations of residents who helped build and create the community that is now so desirable.  The result of their efforts is the book, Washington D.C.'s Deanwood, available in the D.C. Public Library and for purchase online.  

HISTORIC PLACES

Deanwood's history is rich and must be preserved for future generations.  Learn more about places in Deanwood that have been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and about broader historic preservation of our community.

THE STRAND THEATER

Opened on November 3, 1928, with a movie theatre, a dance hall, and a pool room. The Strand Theater operated as an African-American theater for just over forty years, closing in 1959.


Once listed on listed on the District of Columbia’s Preservation League’s "Most Endangered Places in Washington," the Strand is currently slated to be a part of a larger development. Deanwood Residents have expressed a deep desire to see the site restored to an Arts use.

NANNIE HELEN BURROUGHS SCHOOL

The Nannie Helen Burroughs School, formerly known as National Training School for Women and Girls, was a private coeducational elementary school at 601 50th Street NE in Washington, D.C. The school was founded in 1909 by Nannie Helen Burroughs as The National Trade and Professional School for Women and Girls, Inc. and was the first school in the nation to provide vocational training for African-American females, who did not otherwise have many educational opportunities available to them. The 1928 Trades Hall building, the oldest building on the campus, was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1991.


The property now houses the headquarters of the   Progressive National Baptist Convention.  The convention has plans to construct new development on the school site in 2018.

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF DEANWOOD

First Baptist Church of Deanwood is a historic church at 1008 45th Street in Northeast, Washington, D.C., in the Deanwood neighborhood.
It was built in 1938, and added to the National Register in 2008. A new church was completed in 1961, just south of the old church. The new church is now the main location for worship services and the old building is used for youth activities.

SUBURBAN GARDENS SITE

Suburban Gardens was the first and only major amusement park within Washington, D.C. Located at 50th and Hayes Streets, NE, in the Deanwood neighborhood near the National Training School for Women and Girls, Suburban Gardens opened in 1921 and was in operation for almost two decades. It was a welcome site for African Americans who were excluded by whites from Glen Echo Amusement Park in nearby Maryland.

Suburban Gardens was created by the Universal Development and Loan Company, a black-owned real estate and development company. Engineer Howard D. Woodson, writer John H. Paynter, and theater magnate Sherman H. Dudley were among the investors. Here Washingtonians enjoyed a roller coaster, Ferris wheel, swimming pools, games of chance, and picnic grounds. There was also a large dance pavilion where popular jazz musicians performed. The 7-acre (2.8 ha) park, in far Northeast, was on the city's undeveloped outskirts bordering Prince George's County, Maryland. Washingtonians and out-of-town visitors came to Suburban Gardens by trolley car, commuter train, private car, or on foot.  The park closed by 1940. After its closure, the area was redeveloped and replaced mostly with apartment buildings.

Suburban Gardens is featured in Historically African American Leisure Destinations around Washington, DC, written by Ms. Patsy M. Fletcher.  The book focuses on the leisure destinations of African Americans during the time of segregation.

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©2020 BY THE DEANWOOD CITIZENS ASSOCIATION.