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 houses, such as the group of houses developed and built by builder Campbell & Crawford and clustered together in North Michigan Park. These are defined by such Mid-Century characteristics as asymmetrical, low pitched and shed roofs, integrated carports and expansive window glazing including clerestory windows in the low gable end walls. 

Another group of Modern ranch houses in the two-block area were built by Burton Construction Co. and designed by a different architect, Leon Reiskin. These houses in the 4200 blocks of 19th Street and Place NE and on the 1900 block of Upshur Street NE, are less Mid-Century in character than those designed by Brown & Wright.

Houses designed by Brown & Wright in North Michigan Park:

•  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)