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Striver's Section
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

The name of the district, "Strivers' Section", derives from the area's longstanding association with leading individuals and institutions in Washington's African American community. The recognition of a special enclave of African American leaders in the area goes back more than 80 years, when it was described by a contemporary writer as the "Strivers' Section" or the "community of Negro aristocracy."

Since the earliest developments in the 1870s, the area has been associated with African American leaders in business, education, politics, religion, art, architecture, science and government. The most important of these figures was Frederick Douglass, runaway slave, abolitionist, orator, writer and civil servant, often called the Father of the Civil Rights Movement. Douglass built the southern three buildings of a five-house, Second Empire style row at 2000-2008 17th Street in 1875-76. His son inherited the houses from his father and lived at 2002 from 1877 until his death in 1908. The area was also home to other notables. James E. Storum, the educator and entrepreneur who founded the Capital Savings Bank, the first AfricanAmerican owned banking institution in DC lived at 2004 17th St. Calvin Brent, the late-19th-century architect lived on V Street. James C. Dacy, editor, Realtor and DC Recorder of Deeds from 1904-1910, also lived in the area. This tradition of community and neighborhood leadership continues today.


Striver's Section
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

Architecturally, the Strivers' Section is characterized by late-19th and early-20th-century rowhouses and a variety of apartment houses. A small commercial area has evolved along Florida Avenue. An institutional building, the handsome firehouse at 1624 U Street (now a restaurant), adds to the area's character. Most of the rowhouses are relatively simple, rhythmically repeating, speculative buildings. These houses range in scale from two-story houses to grander imposing styles.

The single, flat-fronted Italianate rowhouses with their ornamental moldings and cornices that stand on the south side of the 1700 block of T Street, (1764-1778) are generally considered the earliest buildings in the area. Similar rowhouses, also dating c.1875, can be found in the 1900 block of New Hampshire Avenue. The Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style is prominently represented in the massive red sandstone mansion 2102 17th Street designed by E.D. Frazier. Richardsonian Romanesque is displayed on houses at 1730-1738 V Street and 1700-1704 Florida Avenue. Another grouping designed by N.T. Haller in 1895 is located at 1822-24 New Hampshire Avenue. The Edwardian 1700 blocks of T and U Streets are architectural focal points of the district. Apartment houses, mainly constructed during the first quarter of the 20th century, appear throughout the district. Within the area, the apartment houses range from luxurious to plain. The Strivers' Section remains remarkably intact, both architecturally and for its historical associations, and makes a significant contribution to DC.

The Striver's Section Historic District is roughly bounded by Swann St., NW on the south; Florida Ave., NW on the north and west; and the 16th Street Historic District on the east. The buildings are private residences and are not open to the public. Metro stop: Dupont Circle



 

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