House History

The Terrell Family House is a wood frame house with brick exterior located on a 2,390 square foot lot. The house was built as a duplex structure,but fire caused extensive damage to the adjoining structure in the 1940s, and as a result, that structure had to be demolished, leaving only one-half of the original structure standing.

The Mary Church Terrell House was singled out as an individual landmark property and was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. This local historic district designation has helped to preserve the eclectic architectural fabric of the neighborhood as well as helped identify and tell the stories related to the rich history of the area.

The House was willed to Howard University in 1951 and the University was to come into possession of it following the death of Terrell’s daughter, Phyllis Terrell Langston. The University took title to the property in 1998 and began planning for its rehabilitation as part of the award-winning LeDroit Park redevelopment initiative undertaken in partnership with Fannie Mae.

The building was saved from being razed by the city because of its derelict condition in 2002 as a result of the activism of Howard University, the District of Columbia’s Historic Preservation Office, the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation, and the LeDroit Park Civic Association. Preservation and conservation work of the exterior and interior will proceed in three phases.