These three buildings on Howard University’s Main Yard are nationally significant as the setting for the institution’s role in the legal establishment of racially desegregated public education, and for its association with two nationally recognized leaders of that fight—Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall—as well as many others. Through Houston’s vision, beginning in 1929, Howard Law School became an educational training ground for activist lawyers dedicated to securing the civil rights of all people of color. In 1936, the nation’s first legal course in Civil Rights was established there. Howard University also provided critical support to Marshall and the Legal Defense Fund and Educational Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) as they developed the legal strategy that culminated in the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education, thus ending segregation in public education.
Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel: Completed in 1894, the chapel was dedicated to the brother of Jeremiah C. Rankin, president of the university from 1890-1903. Eclectic and asymmetrical in design, it is set picturesquely into the hillside. It continues to be used for religious activities and as an auditorium.
Frederick Douglass Memorial Hall: Completed in 1935, this Neoclassical building was also built under the direction of Albert Cassell. It housed classrooms and offices for the Departments of Education, History, and Psychology, as well as the Deans of the College of Liberal Arts and the Graduate School.
Founders Library: Completed in 1939, Founders Library was designed in the Colonial Revival style by architects Cassell and Willinston. One of Albert I. Cassell’s primary design architects, Louis E. Fry, Sr., who had a significant hand in the design of the library, once commented on its resemblance to Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, stating “since the Library was dedicated to liberty, there was no more appropriate design for Howard University’s major building to emulate.”
Carnegie Building: Designed by Henry Whitfield and completed in 1910, this building housed the principal library and School of Religion until 1945. Although not fully documented with respect to National Historic Landmark (NHL) criteria, the building is included as a property that contributes to the setting of the site.
The Yard: Howard University's upper quadrangle provides the setting for the above buildings and five other academic buildings. The Yard became the university’s symbolic heart as the campus evolved, and it remains the center of campus life. The design is by landscape architect David A. Willinston.
National Register: January 3, 2001
National Historic Landmark: January 3, 2001