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Tour of Historic Bloomingdale: The Campaign Against Covenants (Members Only)
November 20 @ 10:00 am - 11:30 am
136 Adams Street NW. Source: Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.
DC Preservation League Members are invited to join us on Saturday, November 20th for a walking tour of the Bloomingdale neighborhood. Bloomingdale is located just north of Florida Avenue, once the city’s northern border, about two miles from the U.S. Capitol. It was developed at the turn of the 20th century with a mix of row houses that attracted a range of buyers.
Residents and builders such as Harry Wardman used racially restrictive deed covenants to make Bloomingdale an exclusive white neighborhood. Black citizens contested these efforts by risking lawsuits to purchase houses with covenants. This tour will highlight the role of Bloomingdale’s premier architectural corridor as a racial barrier, and how black homeseekers and civil rights attorneys chipped away at this dividing line in the 1920s-‘40s. The tour will be led by Prologue DC historian Sarah Shoenfeld, co-director of Mapping Segregation in Washington DC.
We ask that attendees with smartphones download the DC Historic Sites mobile app, available for iOS and Android. It includes The Campaign Against Covenants: A Tour of Bloomingdale’s Racial Divide, which contains photos and maps that we’ll look at during the walking tour.
Sarah Jane Shoenfeld is an independent scholar and public historian specializing in DC history. Her work addresses DC’s racialized housing landscape and planning regime; the intersection of race and historic preservation; and the history of organizing around civil rights and Black governance in DC. For her company Prologue DC, Sarah engages in a variety of public history projects, including research for exhibitions and films, historic landmark and district nominations, oral histories, and walking tours. Recent projects include consultation on a permanent exhibit for DC’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library; landmark nominations and a National Register multiple property study on sites related to DC’s Black civil rights history and the history of public housing and the 20th Century African American Civil Rights Tour for DC’s Historic Preservation Office. Sarah is a co-founder of the digital public history project Mapping Segregation in Washington DC (a 2019 Preservation Awards recipient), which is documenting the former extent of racially restricted housing in the nation’s capital.
About Mapping Segregation in Washington DC
Mapping Segregation reveals the profound role of race in shaping the nation’s capital during the first half of the 20th century. Racially restrictive covenants—which barred the conveyance of property to African Americans—were used by real estate developers and white citizens associations to create and maintain racial barriers. This project is a resource for historians, activists, educators, students, and journalists, and provides essential context for conversations around race and gentrification in DC. The project’s maps unveil historical patterns that would otherwise remain invisible and largely unknown. The ongoing, lot-by-lot documentation of racial covenants is set in the context of DC’s demographic transformation over the course of several decades. Primary documents, archival news clippings, photographs, and oral testimony also contribute to the stories these maps tell. Learn more and explore the project here.
About Prologue DC, LLC
Prologue DC, LLC. is a woman-owned company based in Washington, DC. They are experienced historians, researchers, writers, speakers, and exhibit planners. They believe that understanding our city’s past helps us appreciate its unique 21st century culture. Enslaved and free African Americans, immigrants, wealthy landholders, prominent politicians, and many others—all of them built Washington. By telling their stories, we present history that is relevant, entertaining, and educational.
**COVID Safety Requirements: The safety of our guests is of the utmost importance to us and for this reason, DCPL is requiring that all participants be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required upon arrival at the event. Vaccination card or picture of card will be accepted. Masks are also required for this event, regardless of vaccination status.
This is a DCPL Members-only event. Note that you need to be signed in to your Neon account in order to successfully register. Not a member? Become one here or during registration.
November “Rowhouses and Alleys” programs are generously sponsored by Betsy McDaniel, a resident of Bloomingdale and a longtime DCPL supporter.