Mitchell Park Field House

Despite the playground’s equipment and paving having been replaced, the property remains one of the earliest extant city playgrounds and park buildings in DC.

Before 1930, some DC parks contained sheds to store equipment. The extant facilities from that era, however, include only buildings that were later repurposed for recreation use. But park administrators now needed facilities that could accommodate offices for playground directors, storage rooms, restrooms, and general-purpose spaces to facilitate year-round activities.

Municipal Architect Albert Harris (1869-1934) designed a prototype fieldhouse for Mitchell Park in 1930, and the building was completed in 1931. Of frame construction, a story and a half tall with a full-width front porch, it was based on the eighteenth-century Tidewater hall-and-parlor house. Six such structures would eventually be erected, five of which are extant, and Mitchell Park being the first. As public works, the designs had to be reviewed by the US Commission of Fine Arts, which favored the Colonial Revival style as suitably domestic in character for government facilities situated in residential neighborhoods. These were clearly influenced by the very topical Colonial Williamsburg restoration project and its new archaeological interest in even modest and vernacular colonial buildings of that region.

Mitchell Park’s fieldhouse is a modest three-bay building with a single main room upstairs and down, with a small restroom and an enclosed stair at the north end. The first floor is now mainly a playroom for young children. A central front door is supplemented by a second entrance centered in the south end. The original porch and exterior end chimney remain.

DC Inventory: October 31, 2019
National Register: February 24, 2014



1801 23rd Street NW