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The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, is a neighborhood found on the east of the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington, D.C. United States. The site was administered by the National Park Service and it is situated at 1411 W Street, SE, in Anacostia. The establishment of the Frederick Douglass site as a National Historic Site was done in 1988 and it has become a popular attraction amongst tourists in Washington DC. The purpose of establishing the site was to preserve the home and estate of one of the most prominent African Americans of the 19th century – Frederick Douglass. Douglass named the house Cedar Hill and he lived in this house from the period of late 1870s until his death in 1895. You can get a great view of the skyline of Washington DC and the U.S. Capitol as the site is rooted on a hilltop. On a series called America the Beautiful quarter, the Frederick Douglass site was used to represent Washington, D.C. in 2017.  

Frederick Douglass Statue

Ownership of This Washington DC Historic Site

Originally, John Van Hook was the one who bought the site of the Frederick Douglass home and he did this in 1855. Later, the house was owned by the Freedom Savings and Trust Company for a portion of 1877 until it was finally purchased by Frederick Douglass in that same year. Frederick Douglass is a notable figure that spent his life fighting for equality and justice. He was born into slavery in 1818, but as a young man he escaped and afterwards became one of the abolitionist movement's leading voice until he died. Even today, there are thousands of people who still find inspiration in his humanitarian lifestyle, tireless struggle, brilliant words and fight for justice. Helen Pitts Douglass, who was Douglass's second wife, founded the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association in 1900 after the death of Frederick Douglass and in 1916, the association joined with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs. These associations were the owners of the house up until 1962. This was when the federal government, through the national park service, took the deed to the house with the intention of preserving and restoring it back to its glory. It is at Cedar Hill where Douglass lived the last 17 years of his life, that his legacy is preserved. 

Beautiful Washington DC View

The Gentleman’s Farm

During the historic period, the landscape of Cedar Hill was used as a "gentleman’s farm", which is the opposite of a working farm. It was also used as a retreat and a family home. As a "gentleman’s farm", it was used in the growing and tending of orchards, gardens, nut trees and fruits. The nut trees provided a supplement diet for both livestock and the family. the diet of both the family and livestock.

The livestocks raised there include cows, horses, goats and chickens, and these provided both labor and food. Douglass was well known as an admirer of nature, and The memoirs of the landscape from the time of Douglass recounts his use of several perennials, biennials, annuals, shrubs and vines around his property. 


The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site at Federal District does not only serve as a memorial site for a notable figure, but it also has the characteristics of a romantic cottage in natural surroundings. The landscape still retains most of its historical integrity even though overtime it has been altered. 

The Historic House

The historic house is the centerpiece of the site, and the house sits on top of eight acres of the estate and a 50-foot hill. During the restoration of the house to give it back its 1895 appearance, it was furnished with original objects that belonged to Frederick Douglass and other members of the household. Usually, a visit to the site would lasts about one and half hours. There are a lot of things you can do during this visit and they include looking at exhibits, touring the historic house, exploring the grounds and watching the film. The site also has a reconstruction of Douglass's "Growlery" which is a small stone building where he wrote and studied in seclusion and an interpretative visitor's center. From the Anacostia Metro station, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is about a 10-minute walk.

Another place of interest:  Lincoln's Cottage or National World War 1 Memorial

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