NPS Reopens Restored Frederick Douglass House

Medium-sized image unavailable for this photo.
Frederick Douglass lived in this house, located in the Anacostia
area of Washington, D.C., for 18 years.

Credit: Library of Congress

After a three-year restoration, the Washington, D.C., home of Frederick Douglass reopened to the public on Feb. 14, the 189th anniversary of the scholar's birth.

The National Park Service, which oversaw the $2 million project, has owned the house since 1962, restoring and opening it 10 years later as the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site. This was the first restoration in 40 years.

"I think it's wonderful," says Vivian Smith, vice president of the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, a group that Douglass' second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, founded in 1900. "The park service is really to be credited with assuring that the money for the restoration was in the budget."

During the restoration, workers upgraded the heating and cooling systems, removed asbestos, mold, and lead paint, and repainted the interior and exterior of the house, analyzing paint chips to unearth the house's original colors.

Douglass (c. 1817-1895) bought the house and nine-acre grounds, which he called Cedar Hill, in 1877, expanding the 14-room house to 21 rooms before his death. 

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