This Second Empire style home in the Pleasant Plains neighborhood has long served the Washington, DC community, and is a key landmark associated with the city's African American history.
Established in 1863 at the height of the Civil War, the National Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children served formerly enslaved women and children who were arriving in Washington and were in need of assistance. The National Home's first location was at the Burleith estate, north of Georgetown. Shortly after the war, the orginization was forced out and relocated to approximately 8th and Euclid streets NW — near the 733 Euclid Street building. At this location, Elizabeth Keckly, one of the association's founding members and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln's former seamstress and personal attendant, lived the final years of her life.
Due to the proposed construction of the Banneker Recreation Center, the National Home was once again in search of a new location. In 1930, the association purchased the home at 733 Euclid Street, and converted the duplex into one unit. Shortly thereafter, a rear addition was constructed and the porch was likely added. Over the next four-decades, the building served an important function, and by the 1950s — now known as the Merriweather Home for Children — was the city's sole private orphanage for African American children. The new name reflected the former president of the National Home, Mary Louise Robinson Merriweather, and is an important reference to the institution's long history of African American management. The home continued to play a critical role in Washington, as the city was losing population and economic investment in the postwar years. Due to poor conditions, the Merriweather Home for Children was shutdown in 1971.
In the 21st century, the building at 733 Euclid Street NW was reborn as an important community anchor serving Washingtonians in the Pleasant Plains and Park View neighborhoods — and throughout the city. In 2006, Sylvia Robinson founded the Emergence Community Arts Collective (ECAC), which served the community. In 2011, Robinson said, "We [ECAC] use arts and educational activities to get people out of their homes and engaged in positive activity with others…. We bring the services and talents of individual and organizations to the community at free or affordable rates. Because we were here, the community benefited from free tax preparation, census job training, HIV testing, after school and summer programs and many other activities that would not have found their way into Pleasant Plains." In 2017, Robinson passed away, and in 2022, the property was sold.
The home was constructed around 1879 as part of the Todd & Brown's Subdivision. With its two front doors and two sets of staircases, its original function as a duplex is still visible. It was designed in a Second Empire style, popular at the time, and has the characteristic mansard roof. Additionally, the home has round-arched windows and a front porch, and is located above Euclid Street behind a retaining wall.
DC Inventory: July 28, 2022
National Register: October 5, 2022