Battleground to Community
— Brightwood Heritage Trail —
In 1818 the Private Rockville and Washington Turnpike Co. began building a road to link Washington City to Rockville, Maryland. This road helped create a village. A toll gate on what today is Georgia Avenue between Quackenbos and Rittenhouse streets encouraged travelers to pause here. Lewis Burnett built a roadhouse, or restaurant, just across Missouri Avenue to your left. By the early 1860s the roadhouse became Moreland Tavern, offering sleeping accommodations. During the Civil War, the tavern housed the officers who would lead the defense of nearby Fort Stevens during the Confederate attack.
The tavern made way for the wood frame home of Stansbury Masonic Lodge No. 24. The hall, in addition to meeting and secret ceremonial spaces, included the income producing Brightwood Hotel. The Freemasons are an ancient fraternal organization with roots in the building trades. Members continue to do good works and create fellowship. Washington's Freemasons served in all professions, from bricklayer to president.
In 1919 Stansbury Lodge member Frank Russell White designed a grand new limestone temple. Its main meeting room could hold 200 and had a mezzanine and balcony with a pipe organ. The first floor initially housed a post office, then a Sanitary (later Safeway) Grocery and eventually a Pontiac car dealership.
The Freemasons rented meeting spaces to a Greek Sunday school, high school fraternities, synagogues and others. After Stansbury Lodge moved to Takoma in 1987, the neoclassical building was sold. In the 1990s. it gained brief notoriety as a nightclub. In 2007 it reopened as the Lofts at Brightwood.
[ Reverse Marker : ]
Welcome to Brightwood, one of Washington, DC's early communities and the site of the only Civil War battle to take place within the District of Columbia. Along with nearby Battleground National Cemetery, Fort Stevens is a daily reminder that the Civil War greatly affected the citizens of Washington. This crossroads community developed from the Seventh Street Turnpike, today's Georgia Avenue, and Military Road. Its earliest days included a pre-Civil War settlement of free African Americans (one of whom, Elizabeth Proctor Thomas, appears on each Heritage Trail sign). Eventually Brightwood boasted a popular race track, country estates, and sturdy suburban housing. In 1861 the area was known as Brighton, but once it was large enough to merit a U.S. Post Office, the name was changed to Brightwood to distinguish it from Brighton, Maryland. With a stock of solid, attractive houses and apartments, the recreational attractions of nearby Rock Creek Park, and longstanding houses of worship, Brightwood has welcomed generations of families whose aspirations have shaped its life and character.
Follow the 18 signs of Battleground to Community: Brightwood Heritage Trail
to discover the personalities and forces that created this remarkable community.
Battleground to Community: Brightwood Heritage Trail
, a free booklet capturing the trail's highlights, is available in both English and Spanish language editions at local businesses along the way. To learn about other DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.