Mary Church Terrell House

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The Mary Church Terrell House is a renowned house at 326 T Street NW in Washington, D.C. The birthplace of noted civil rights pioneer Mary Church Terrell, the suffragist and educator, who served as the first President of the Colored Women’s National Association. Her home in the LeDroit Park section of Washington, DC was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1975. The house is a contributing property in the LeDroit Park Historic District.

Terrell House sits between 3rd and 4th Street on the south side of T Street, southeast of Howard University. It’s a 2-1/2 story brick building with a high basement. The front facade consists of a polygonal window bay at the basement and the first floor, while the second floor has a wide segmented arch window. In the upper half-gable, there is a smaller window with a round window on a bed of Victorian shingles.

Background of Mary Church Terrell

Mary Church Terrell was born on September 23, 1863, in Memphis, Tennessee. After graduation, she traveled overseas to learn foreign languages and graduated in the 1880s at Oberlin College, teaching in Ohio and Washington, DC. She moved back in 1890 and taught at M Street High School in Washington. She married Robert A. Terrell in October 1891. He was a lawyer and the first African American judge at the DC City Court.

Mary Church Terrell also served as President of the Colored Women Association, and eventually was a founder of the Association of National American Suffrage. In 1895, she was the first African American woman named to a school board.  She spent two terms on the DC School Board from 1895 to 1901, then again from 1906 to 1911. She described her work as a commitment to better education, equitable recruiting standards, and more effective school allocations.  She lived with her family on T street during these important times.

The building is a simplified Victorian edition. At the turn of the 20th century, Washington designed several simpler Victorian homes. The purchase of the home by Terrell was a crucial factor in LeDroit Park’s incorporation. The house has been designated as national historic landmarks and is included in the national historical places register, as well as in the historical district of LeDroit Park.

Restoration

The home was deteriorating, obvious to the even casual observer.  Furthermore, the house has been uninhabitable for a number of years. In the summer of 2008, largely by a grant from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures initiative, restoration has been begun. The United Kingdom’s Housing and Urban Development, the DC Planning Office (DC), and the National Historic Preservation Trust (HNC) have offered additional assistance.

On the basis of external findings, the brickworks seem to have been reworked and documented, significant structural defects have been repaired, the reinforcement of windows and fencing have been improved, the roof has been repaired and the windows have been better sealed with splice. No further work seems to have been undertaken as this was concluded in the summer of 2009.

Citation:
1 – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Church_Terrell_House
2 – https://historicsites.dcpreservation.org/items/show/909
3 – https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc66.htm

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