Village in the City
—Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail —
Front of Marker
When the Mount Pleasant Library,
behind you, opened in 1925, crowds flocked to the Classical style building. Many had campaigned long and hard for this community centerpiece. The Carnegie Corporation, funder of public libraries in Mount Vernon Square, Southeast, and Takoma Park, spent extra on this branch so that it would fit in with the mansions and churches lining 16th Street. The city hired noted New Yorker Edward L. Tilton, architect of Carnegie libraries nationwide and the Ellis Island immigration station. The handsome library continues as a learning and gathering space, especially for immigrant residents enjoying its foreign-language collections.
During the Great Depression (1929-1941), local artist Aurelius Battaglia dressed up the children's reading room with "Animal Circus," murals funded by President Franklin Roosevelt's Public Works of Art program. Later Battaglia worked for Walt Disney Studios on Dumbo
and illustrated dozens of children's books.
The church at 3146 16th Street opened in 1916 as the modest, brick Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church, South. A decade later the congregation enlarged the building in the Classical style to match the new library and changed its name to Francis Asbury Methodist Church. After 40 years,
the church followed the majority of its members to the Maryland suburbs, and Meridian Hill Baptist Church relocated here from Adams Morgan.
In the park across from this sign is a memorial to Guglielmo Marconi, co-winner of the 1909 Nobel Prize in physics for contributions to the invention of wireless telegraphy. Marconi's innovations led to the development of modern radio.
The Mount Pleasant Library's circulation area, 1925.
Aurelius Battaglia, left,
created these elephants for the library before he went on to draw for Disney's film Dumbo
Enjoying the first Mount Pleasant Youth Arts Fair, top,
at the library, 2000.
take an exercise class at the library, 1982.
Laying the cornerstone for the Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1916, and the original design for the church, right,
from a contemporary postcard.
Back of marker:
Tucked into a bend in Rock Creek Park
on the breezy heights above central Washington, Mount Pleasant was one of the city's earliest suburban developments. It began as a village of government clerks mainly from New England, and stretched from 17th Street east to Seventh Street. Later it attracted prominent citizens to its site along fashionable 16th Street, and eventually
yielded the area east of 16th Street to Columbia Heights. But that's only on the map. Mount Pleasant's boundaries depend on who you are and where you came from.
The arrival of the streetcar transformed the village into an urban enclave. Working people and newcomers to Washington began to call Mount Pleasant home in the mid-1900s. Its varied citizenry earned it the nickname "little U.N." By the 1970s Mount Pleasant and Adams Morgan were recognized as the heart of the Latino immigrant community.
Mount Pleasant activists have often been on the cutting edge of important civic issues, and artists and musicians have been part of its daily life. While the neighborhood has changed with the city, some things remain constant. Children consider the National Zoo and Rock Creek Park their personal playgrounds, and residents shop and greet each other on Mt. Pleasant Street. Colonial Revival mansions, early apartment buildings, and rowhouses remain remarkably intact. A stroll along the 17 signs of Village in the City: Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail
will introduce you to it all. Welcome!
Rev. Dr. O.B. Langrall and his wife Isabel (fourth from left) pose with the Francis Asbury Church Ladies' Bible Class, around 1950. Collection of Edwin H. Langrall