On Monday, February 27th, Director Mainella welcomed the newest addition to the National Park System, the Carter G. Woodson home. The site will showcase the late historian’s contributions to the study of African American history in what has been described as a promising partnership between the NPS and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH).
Braving cold winds while speaking in front of the historic site in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, Mainella, National Capital Regional Director Joe Lawler, National Capital Parks-East Superintendent Gayle Hazelwood, U. S. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D, D.C.) and representatives from ASALH gathered to announce the Service’s purchase and acquisition of the historic home with publication of the official notice in the Federal Register.
Woodson created and helped found ASALH in 1915 in the house at 1538 Ninth Street, N.W., a location where he helped convince the world of the importance of studying and understanding the culture, contributions and origins of black Americans. The location housed not only Woodson’s living quarters and the area where Woodson did his research, but also the first African-American publishing company, which included the printing and pressing of books. The house had been abandoned for more than three decades and had fallen into disrepair.
“The Carter G. Woodson Home is the latest of 73 sites in the National Park System that relate to the culture and heritage of African Americans, and their contributions to America’s rich and diverse history,” Mainella pointed out. “This site has significance for not only all Americans, but for international visitors as well.”
“Now a priceless American treasure will be saved and preserved, the nation’s pride and purpose in celebrating Black History Month will be better understood, and the celebration and the city no longer will be marred by the poor conditions of the home of a great scholar,” said Rep. Norton. Norton introduced the bill in Congress that was responsible for turning the home into a museum.
“We will work diligently, but also in a manner that will ensure that the job of restoring this historic site is done correctly and with honor and dignity,” Gayle Hazelwood, Superintendent of National Capital Parks-East, the National Capital Region park now responsible for the NPS’ work at the site.In 1976, the Woodson house was designated a National Historic Landmark, but little else had been done to the home since. Local neighborhood groups and ASALH wrote to Rep. Norton urging the home’s preservation. In 2001, Rep. Norton introduced the legislation, which included the NPS purchasing the property for nearly $500,000.