The building at 1800 Vermont Avenue was constructed as part of the first wave of speculative development which came to the Northern Shaw-Strivers area of Washington, D.C. following the Civil War. Prior to that time, the area included the types of land uses typical of the urban fringe -- some scattered agricultural parcels and shanties, and a good deal of unimproved land being held on speculation.
In 1921, the property was purchased for use as a classroom building by the Frelinghuysen University. The institution was founded by Jesse and Rosetta Lawson and others in 1917, to provide academic programs, vocational training, social services and religious education for working-class African-Americans. The school was named for Senator Frederick Theodore Frelinghuysen, an advocate for the rights of blacks during Reconstruction. Dr. Anna J. Cooper (1859-1964), a leading black educator during the period, was closely involved with the curricular development of the University, and later served as its president from 1930-1941.
Built in 1879 (Diller B. Groff, builder)
DC designation June 22, 1995
National Register: November 6, 1995
Contributing Property in the Greater U Street HD