LeDroit Park brings neighbors together

Real Estate,Mike Unger

Maria Fyodorova is prescient — at least when it comes to LeDroit Park.


Five and a half years ago she moved to the historic Northwest Washington neighborhood from Adams Morgan.

"We felt like LeDroit Park was a community where we could get to know our neighbors," she said. "We were coming from Adams Morgan, and we noticed that had stopped happening."

At a glance
April 2011
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 20001: $470,532
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 20001: $479,776
Average days on market for homes sold: 64
April 2010
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 20001: $449,437
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 20001: $460,029
Average days on market for homes sold: 58

Stroll through the neighborhood on any nice night and you'll see that Fyodorova's hunch about LeDroit Park was right on. It is commonplace to see people walking their dogs or pushing a stroller and mingling on the front porch.

"We have neighbors who have lived here all of their lives, families with kids, singles, young professionals and university students," said resident Dina Lewis. "It's really a great mix."

Bound roughly by Rhode Island and Florida avenues on the south, Howard University on the west, Elm Street on the north and 2nd Street on the east, LeDroit Park was developed by Amzi L. Barber, one of Howard's founders.

It originally was a planned architecturally unified subdivision of substantial detached and semidetached houses designed by James McGill and constructed mainly between 1873 and 1877, according to the National Park Service.

First developed as an exclusively white residential area, Octavius Williams, a barber, in 1893 became the first African-American to move into the subdivision. It soon became home to prominent African Americans like Gen. Benjamin Davis, the first African-American general, and violinist Clarence Cameron White. Walter Washington, the first mayor of Washington elected under home rule, lived in LeDroit Park.

Today people are drawn to its relative affordability and prime location. Neither Fyodorova nor her fianc?e, Mark Silva, have a car, so they bike or use public transportation.

The U Street and Shaw/Howard stops on Metro's green line are easily accessible, as are four bus lines.

"It's a beautiful neighborhood," said Sina Mollaan, a real estate agent with W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors. "You're in a big city but you feel like you're in a small village. It's so quaint."

A mixture of row homes and small single families are joined by rental apartments to offer a nice mixture of housing options.

"There's a great rental market for Howard University," Mollaan said. "A lot of people will buy a house and turn the basement into an English-style basement and rent it to Howard kids to help with their mortgage."

The heart of the neighborhood is the Common Good City Farm and tentatively named Park at LeDroit. They were created when the city closed Gage Eckington Elementary School and quickly have become a natural gathering point for residents.

Common Good is a farm that grows food for low-income residents and provides educational opportunities aimed at increasing food security, improving health, and contributing to environmental sustainability. It's doing such remarkable work that Prince Charles of England visited in April.

With great restaurants, including the legendary Ben's Chili Bowl, and nightlife just a few blocks away on the U Street corridor or in nearby Bloomingdale, LeDroit Parkers have plenty of choices for fun and culture.

"We are anxiously anticipating the opening of the new Howard Theater, the United Negro College Fund headquarters at Progression Place and the Howard Town Center Project which, although it has not yet broken ground, will be a great shot in the arm for Georgia Avenue and bring a grocery store within walking distance," Lewis said.

Until then, residents are content with leisurely evening strolls during which they greet their neighbors like family. A nightly scene exactly like the one Maria Fyodorova envisioned.

Top reasons to live in LeDroit Park

LeDroit Park has been home to some very prominent African Americans, including Robert A. Terrell, the first African American municipal judge; Mary Church Terrell, a distinguished educator, suffragette, and civil rights activist; General Benjamin Davis, the first African American general; violinist Clarence Cameron White and Walter Washington, the first mayor of Washington elected under home rule.

The median sale price for a home in the 20001 zip code in April was $421,000, relatively low for a neighborhood in such a prime location.

With two Metro stations on the green line close by, bus routes that can take you anywhere in the city, and plenty of restaurants and night life within walking distance, LeDroit Park is perfectly situated for residents who don’t own a car.

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