Lift Every Voice
—Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail —
During the Civil War, thousands of once-enslaved people crowded into DC, desperate for shelter, work, and protection. Most vulnerable were orphans and children separated from their families. In 1863 the National Association for the Relief of Destitute Colored Women and Children opened a shelter for them in Georgetown.
The National Home, managed by prominent African American women, was the city's only foster facility for black children. It taught them basic writing, math and trades and placed them for adoption. Eventually the home moved to 733 Euclid Street. The National Home's successor donated its building to the Emergent Community Arts Collective, which opened in 2006.
Dolores Tucker, who grew up at 1000 Euclid, remembered a neighborhood filled with schools and teachers. After Tucker's mother Gladys Williams left teaching to raise her family, "teachers on their way to school used to stop at our home to have coffee with my mother...It was Grand Central Station."
On the southeast corner of Georgia Avenue and Fairmont, Italian immigrants Frank and Mary Guerra opened the original Howard Delicatessen in 1923. In 1988 Kenny Gilmore took over the business. Gilmore, godson to the Guerra's daughter, had grown up two doors away and worked in the deli as a young boy.
of the Merriweather Home (successor to the National Home for Destitute Colored Women and Children) set the table, left
, and dress for a Girl Scouts meeting, 1963.
Howard Delicatessen's first owners Mary, left, and Frank Guerra with their daughter Grace Guerra (Urciolo). Below, their successor Kenny Gilmore, with broom, coped with construction on Georgia Ave. in 1991.
Dolores Williams leads mother Gladys and brother Theodore out of their home at 1000 Euclid on her wedding day, 1959.
Arthur Ashe, who won a youth championship at Banneker Recreation Center in the 1950s, returned to hold a tennis clinic there in 1969.
Students at Banneker Junior High School (later Banneker High School), 1942.
How many dreams and memories reside in this short stretch of Georgia Avenue!
South of Florida Avenue where it is called Seventh Street, its heart once beat to jazz riffs and the eager steps of people dressed in their finest. Here swept aromas once wafted from commercial bakeries. Just north of Florida is where hot Saturday afternoons meant Griffith Stadium, the crack of the bat and shouts of baseball-mad crowds. And Georgia continues. It climbs toward Howard University, the historical heart of our country's African American intellectual community. Farther still, brick temples of learning give way to rowhouses
and storefronts, and the steady beat of everyday life.
"Pleasant Plains" once was the name of the Holmead family estate, which spread from Rock Creek to Georgia Avenue north of Columbia Road. Today's Pleasant Plains neighborhood lies north of the old Holmead land. And while most of this trail lies in Pleasant Plains, it actually starts in Shaw, enters Pleasant Plains at Florida Avenue, crosses through Park View, the neighborhood north of Howard University, and ends in Petworth.
Lift Every Voice: Georgia Ave./Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail
is an Official Washington, DC Walking Trail. The self-guided tour of 19 signs is 1.9 miles long, offering about two hours of gentle, uphill exercise. Free keepsake guidebooks in English and Spanish are available at businesses and institutions along the way. For more on DC neighborhoods, please visit www.CulturalTourismDC.org.
Collaborators and credits of the Heritage Trail
Local children attended Miner Normal School's "practice" elementary school, around 1900. Library of Congress