Brookland (Washington, D.C.)

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Neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Brookland within the District of Columbia
Brookland within the District of Columbia
Coordinates: 38°55′39″N 76°59′24″W / 38.9275°N 76.99°W / 38.9275; -76.99Coordinates: 38°55′39″N 76°59′24″W / 38.9275°N 76.99°W / 38.9275; -76.99
Country United States
District Washington, D.C.
Ward Ward 5
 • Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie

Brookland is a neighborhood in the Northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., historically centered along 12th Street NE. Brookland is bounded by 9th Street NE to the west, Rhode Island Avenue NE to the south, and South Dakota Avenue to the east. Michigan Avenue is the northern boundary between 9th and 14th Streets; The President Lincoln and Soldiers' Home National Monument is also located near Brookland. (It is technically in Park View.) The Lincoln cottage was the once rural place where President Abraham Lincoln spent the summers of 1862 to 1864, to escape the heat and political pressures of Washington. Brookland has been nicknamed "Little Rome" by some for the many Catholic institutions clustered around The Catholic University of America (CUA) which lives atop what was Fort Slemmer, constructed to protect the city during the Civil War.[1]

Brookland is served by the Brookland–CUA station on the Red Line of the Washington Metro.


Brookland Metro Station


Map of Brookland in 1879.

In 1632 the English successfully claimed the land from the Algonquin-speaking Indians who inhabited the region and King Charles I of England in turn granted the land, which was to become the state of Maryland, to George Calvert, whose interest in the colony lay in "the sacred duty of finding a refuge for his Roman Catholic brethren."[2]

Colonel Jehiel Brooks married into the land when he married Ann Margaret Queen, daughter of Nicholas Queen, and they received a 150-acre estate.[3]

For most of the 19th century the area was farmland owned by the prominent Middleton and Queen families. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad later connected this portion of Washington County to downtown. Bellair, the 1840 brick Greek Revival mansion built by Colonel Jehiel Brooks, still stands. It is referred to as Brooks Mansion. It is the site of offices and production facilities for the Public Access Corporation of the District of Columbia, the city's Government-access television (GAVT) channel known as DCTV.

Change came rapidly during and after the American Civil War. First, Fort Slemmer and Fort Bunker Hill were constructed as defenses against the Confederate Army, and later the Old soldiers' home was constructed to the northwest. The population of the city itself increased with the expansion of the federal government, and the former Brooks family estate became a housing tract named "Brookland." The move from a country estate towards a residential development beginning in 1887 "marked the extension of suburban growth into the rather isolated reaches of the northeastern sector" of D.C.[4] In its early days, the Brookland community was marked by "spacious lots and single family homes" which appealed to middle-class families and provided a "small town atmosphere.[4]"

Growth continued throughout the 1870s when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad opened its Western Branch Line in the developing Brookland neighborhood.[5] With the construction of nearby Sherwood, University Heights, and other tracts, and the expansion of Washington's streetcars, a middle-class streetcar suburb developed, and eventually its expansion southward met Washington's northward. Many Queen Anne style and other Victorian homes still stand.

Like many other neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., Brookland has seen significant revitalization in the past decade. The large-scale development known as Monroe Street Market has served as a catalyst for many other development projects and has attracted many new residents and businesses to the area.

Catholic Institutions[edit]

In 1887, the Roman Catholic Church purchased the Middletown estate, adjacent to Brookland, as the site for The Catholic University of America (CUA). The presence of CUA attracted many other Catholic organizations and institutions to the area, including Trinity College (now Trinity University), established 1897, the Dominican House of Studies in 1905, the Mount St. Sepulchre Franciscan Monastery, also in 1905, or Theological College in 1917. Construction of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, to be the patronal church of the United States, began in 1920. The Pope John Paul II Cultural Center opened in 2001. Nearly 60 Catholic institutions called the neighborhood home by 1940.

Community diversity[edit]

While mostly Caucasian at its founding, Brookland integrated in the 20th century, especially after the white flight after World War II. Although there was some hostility directed at early black integration of the neighborhood, by the middle of the century, Brookland had developed into a neighborhood fairly integrated among economic classes and races. During the mid-twentieth century, Brookland could boast of such prominent residents as Ralph Bunche, Sterling Brown, Edward Brooke, Ellis O. Knox, Rayford W. Logan, and Pearl Bailey, John P. Davis, Marvin Gaye, Paul Tsongas, Stacey Latisaw, Lucy Diggs Slowe and Robert C. Weaver. It remains a relatively diverse and stable area of Washington.

Brookland was also home to the playwright Jean Kerr and her playwright/critic husband Walter Kerr who taught at nearby CUA. The writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings spent her childhood in Brookland.

Justine Ward, the music educator and author, lived in Brookland and built the large residence now occupied by Ronald McDonald House in the 1300 block of Quincy Street. Catholic University's School of Music is named in her honor. Also on Quincy St is the Quincy House,[1] a long-time residence of Catholic graduate students who regularly host coffee houses and other community events.

Dance Place, located at 3225 8th Street, was founded in 1980 and serves as a theater school and community resource.


Brookland has a small but thriving business community. Full-service restaurants include Smith Public Trust, Brookland's Finest, Menomale, Steel Plate, San Antonio Grill, Brookland Cafe, and Murray and Paul's. There is one coffee shop, Askale Cafe. Carry-out and delivery services provide Chinese food and pizza.

Brookland Hardware anchored the 12th Street business corridor for many years until it closed in November of 2015. Other businesses found in Brookland include The Dance Place, Yes! Organic Market, the Brookland Inn, openbox9 graphic design studio, along with realtors, art galleries, auto mechanics, salons, florists, and interior decorating stores. In October 2014, District Veterinary Hospital was opened by local veterinarian Dr. Dan Teich.

In 2010, Abdo Development broke ground on Monroe Street Market, a large mixed-use development spread over five blocks that was finished in 2014. Although the main building in the development has 'BROOKLAND' painted on it in large block letters, it's actually in Edgewood. This includes 27 artists studios on an "Arts Walk," and a Potbelly sandwich shop. Local chains &Pizza, Filter Coffee House, the Bike Rack, and Busboys & Poets opened locations at Monroe Street Market, along with a Barnes & Noble that contains a Starbucks and the new Catholic University bookstore.


  1. ^ Brookland book & blog
  2. ^ "America as a Religious Refuge: The Seventeenth Century, Part 2 - Religion and the Founding of the American Republic | Exhibitions (Library of Congress)". Retrieved 2015-09-16. 
  3. ^ McDaniel, George W.; Pearce, John N.; Aurand, Martin, eds. (1988). Images of Brookland: The History and Architecture of a Washington Suburb. Washington, D.C.: Center for Washington Area Studies, George Washington University. p. 7. OCLC 8973194. 
  4. ^ a b McDaniel, George W.; Pearce, John N.; Aurand, Martin, eds. (1988). Images of Brookland: The History and Architecture of a Washington Suburb. Washington, D.C.: Center for Washington Area Studies, George Washington University. p. 3. OCLC 8973194. 
  5. ^ Brookland Neighborhood Finding Aid, Special Collections Research Center, Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library, The George Washington University

External links[edit]