National Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children (Merriweather Home for Children)

This Second Empire style home has long served the Washington, DC community.

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 and moved into the circa 1879 Second Empire-style building at 733 Euclid Street, converting it into the Home's new home and adding on to it over the decades.   

Over the next four decades, the building served an important function, and by the 1950s — then 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 property is currently under development whereby the former Home will be enlarged by additions and the old and new building will be converted to multi-unit housing. As part of this process, the original massing and detailing of the Second Empire-style house, including its characteristic mansard roof, its round-arched windows and later front porch, will all be restored. 

DC Inventory: July 28, 2022
National Register: October 5, 2022



733 Euclid Street NW