Twin Oaks Playground was established in 1920 to serve the rapidly growing rowhouse community of Petworth. Originally, Twin Oaks was little more than fenced lawns, with a clay tennis court on the northern section. It was not until 1933 that a permanent field house was planned on the south section, a result of newly available federal Civil Works Administration (CWA) funds. In fact, the CWA, a temporary jobs program for skilled laborers, offered the city nine wading pools and three field houses—but only two pools and one fieldhouse total for playgrounds for African-American children.
The field houses were intended to provide storage for outdoor recreation equipment as well as offices for park managers, restrooms for the public, and space for indoor recreation and classes. Built in 1934, the Twin Oaks Field House is a frame structure with three dormers and a full-width porch. Designed to appear as one and a half stories, its main room is the full height of the building, exposing the roof trusses.
With the strict racial segregation of DC public facilities during the first half of the twentieth century, Twin Oaks, like other playgrounds, initially failed to serve the entire community. A 1945 decision to maintain racial segregation in playgrounds drew a considerable backlash, and in the late 1940s, the District Recreation Board began experimenting with opening to all children several "Black" playgrounds. In 1951, it opened a few "white" ones to African Americans. As more Blacks moved into Petworth, Twin Oaks became one of those playgrounds considered for integration, and it was desegregated in 1953, a year before the remainder of the system.
DC Inventory: July 27, 2017
National Register: February 3, 2020