Stead Park, looking north
|Area||1.5 acres (0.61 ha)|
|Operated by||D.C. Parks & Recreaion|
|Status||Open all year|
Stead Park is a 1.5-acre (0.61 ha) municipal park located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Northwest Washington, D.C. Among its facilities are Stead Recreation Center, located at 1625 P Street NW; a lighted basketball court; an athletic field with a 60-foot (18 m) baseball diamond; and a playground.
Public events such as Summer Movie Mania, an outdoor screening sponsored by the city's government, are held at the park. Stead Park is also used as a practice field by the Washington Renegades RFC, the first rugby union club in the United States to recruit gay men and men of color.
The park and its small staff are administered by the city's Department of Parks and Recreation. Stead Park, whose property was valued at $8,659,560 in 2009, is partially funded by a private trust created by Washington architect Robert Stead. The park is named for Stead's wife, Mary Force Stead.
The portion of the park next to P Street once held 19th-century row houses. During a 2008 renovation, archaeological work uncovered artifacts and brick foundations from the houses that once occupied 1613 and 1625 P Street. Researchers concluded that the latter supported a house built in 1878 by Henry Hurt, a Confederate Army veteran and president of the Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company.
When construction began on Stead Park in 1951, the single-story fuel sheds from the row houses at 1621, 1623, and 1625 still stood. These were consolidated and expanded and had a second story added to turn them into the park's recreation center.
The unsegregated park was formally opened on November 13, 1953, at a cost of $80,000 ($698,010 today). In 2003, plans for a four-story, multi-million-dollar gay community center to be built on a small section of the aging park sparked a dispute among Dupont Circle residents and the Washington D.C. Center for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People. The plans were ultimately abandoned.
In 2008, the recreation center and playground were renovated. Work began in April and the park reopened on December 15.
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