Michigan Park Modern

Mid-Century Neighborhoods Tour

In a two-block area sandwiched between Bunker Hill Road, Michigan Avenue, 19th and 20th Streets NE, sits a cluster of Mid-Century Modern ranch houses all designed by the architecture firm of Brown & Wright, the city's most prolific Mid-Century residential architecture firm.

Leon Brown and Thomas W.D. Wright were both accomplished architects when they established their partnership together in 1952. In 1947, while maintaining a solo practice, Brown began teaching at Howard University School of Architecture, becoming the first White professor to do so. As a professor from 1947 to 1972, Brown, first and then later in partnership with Wright, employed many Howard graduates and encouraged other firms to do the same. Brown & Wright architects were strong advocates for the racial integration of architectural firms in the D.C. area.

During their tenure together, the architects took on projects covering a wide spectrum of building types including apartment buildings, low-income housing, embassies, schools, custom and speculative houses. In the 1950s and 1960s, the firm completed more than a dozen custom Modern homes in DC and its suburbs. Many of these survive and can be identified by their wide A-frame roofs with broad eaves and recessed entry porches. 

But Brown & Wright also undertook more modest housing in conjunction with speculative developers, such as the dozen or so houses clustered together in North Michigan Park here:

  • 1925 Upshur Street NE (1956)
  • 1934 Bunker Hill Road NE (1956)
  • 1938 Bunker Hill Road NE (1956)
  • 4120 20th Street NE (1956)
  • 4124 20th Street NE (1956)
  • 4206 20th Street NE (1956)
  • 4212 20th Street NE (1956)
  • 4218 20th Street NE (1956)
  • 4209 19th Street NE (1960)