The Kingman Park Historic District, located at the northeastern end of today’s Capitol Hill, was principally developed during the late 1920s through 1940s as a residential neighborhood for African Americans. The district was part of a larger area that until that time, was underdeveloped due to a lack of basic infrastructure and to unhealthy and insanitary conditions caused by the tidal flats along the Anacostia River. As the city expanded its infrastructure services easterly beyond 13th Street NE, and as the reclamation of the Anacostia River undertaken by the Corps of Engineers reached the section of the river bordering today’s Kingman Park in the late 1920s, the area became ripe for speculative real estate development.
Real estate developers such as Charles Sager who was the first and most prolific builder and developer of Kingman Park housing, seized the opportunity to build rows of residences for middle-class homebuyers on previously undeveloped or underdeveloped land. Sager named the area Kingman Park after Kingman Lake which was being carved out of the Anacostia River for recreational purposes, and which was itself named for the chief engineer at the US Army Corps of Engineers in charge of the Anacostia reclamation efforts. Sager did not necessarily conceive of building houses for African Americans at the outset, but he very quickly realized a ready market and began targeting his new houses to African Americans, a practice emulated by other developers.
The new rows of brick dwellings reflecting a variety of revival styles popular in the interwar period provided affordable and quality housing to Blacks during the height of segregation, when legally enforced practices in real estate limited the supply of housing for the city’s growing African American population. As a result, Kingman Park took off, attracting an exclusively African American population, and engendering the further growth of segregated facilities in the area, including city and federally funded residential, educational, and recreational institutions.
Some of these sites include residential areas like the cohesive collection of twenty blocks of two-story rowhouses and flats, built between 1928 and 1951 that line the streets between 21st Street and Oklahoma Avenue south of Benning Road or the several blocks of rowhouses located in the nineteenth-century residential subdivisions of Rosedale and Isherwood that became an integral part of the social, cultural and physical fabric of Kingman Park after its development beginning in 1928. The Langston Terrace Dwellings (1935-1938) consists of a federally-sponsored public housing complex of garden apartments for low-income African Americans, designed in the International style by Bauhaus-trained architect, Hilyard Robinson (1899-1986). This historic district also includes educational and recreational facilities, like the Young, Browne, Phelps and Spingarn Education Campus (1931-1952) consisting of four public schools, and the Langston Golf Course (1939-1955), open to African Americans, and laid out along the western banks of the Anacostia River and on Kingman Island.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, many of these institutions in Kingman Park would become the scene of Civil Rights demonstrations and activities that ultimately led to the end of legally sanctioned segregation practices in education, recreation and housing in the city.
DC Inventory: May 3, 2018
Boundary Expansion: September 24, 2020
National Register: December 17, 2018
Boundary Expansion: April 22, 2021