George M. Lightfoot House
The Lightfoot House is a rare survivor of a rural Brightwood community once characterized by summer and weekend estates and manors.
The George M. Lightfoot House was built as a residence in 1892 for Frederick Bex, a carriage maker in the small crossroads village of Brightwood in what was then still referred to as Washington County in the District of Columbia. The house was purchased in 1917 by George M. Lightfoot, a professor at Howard University, who resided in the home from 1933 until his death in 1947. Although George M. Lightfoot is not the original owner and builder, the house is named for him due to his associations with the house and the African American community, and due to his family's longtime ownership of the property.
The Lightfoot House is a rare survivor of a rural Brightwood community once characterized by summer and weekend estates and manors. Frederick Bex, an English-born carriage maker and inventor, contracted to have the house built in 1892. The property was located at the foot of Vinegar Hill, a community of African Americans descended from free people of color and probably from “contrabands” who found work at nearby Fort Stevens during the Civil War. As early as 1917, Howard University professor George M. Lightfoot owned the property. Shortly after he moved to the house in 1931, Lightfoot made it a salon for national and international visitors, including giants of the African American intelligentsia: W.E.B. DuBois, Carter Woodson, Alain Locke, Arthur Schomberg, and a young Ralph Bunche.
The house is a mix of High-Victorian eclecticism that includes Second Empire and Moorish flourishes and is notable for its central oriel tower. George Lightfoot died in 1947, and his descendants still live in the house.
DC Inventory: June 27, 2013
National Register: January 15, 2014