Named for Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), the Black surveyor who worked with Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820) in surveying DC, the Banneker Recreation Center was the premier Black recreation center in a period when DC municipal facilities were segregated. Although it was not one of the centers selected for experiment in interracial recreation programs in the summer of 1949, it was among the first centers declared “open,” or desegregated, in the spring of 1954.
Banneker Recreation Center was built in 1934. In terms of architectural value, the Banneker Center represents a utilitarian adaption of stylistic themes promoted from Colonial Williamsburg to the functional requirements of a public recreation facility. In 1942, it was chosen by the local Black community for extensive renovation in order to serve as a year-round facility for Black servicemen. During World War II, Banneker served as a U.S.O. Club and an ROTC training facility for Howard University. Located in the limits of the Freedmen’s Bureau Subdivision across from Howard University, its location reflects its historic significance to DC’s Black community.
DC Inventory: December 18, 1985
National Register: April 28, 1986