Asbury Memorial

In a view from above, the Asbury Memorial is surrounded by crowds of people during a patriotic celebration.
Francis Asbury Memorial, Washington, D.C., 1924

Harris & Ewing Collection (Library of Congress)

The district is significant at the state level under National Register Criterion C in the areas of Architecture and Community Planning and Development with a period of significance of 1870 to 1949. The reservation property is likely eligible for listing on the National Register under Criterion C in the area of Community Planning and Development. The period of significance begins with the extension and improvement of 16th Street past Florida Avenue in 1903 and ends with the installation of a memorial to Methodist Bishop Francis Asbury in 1924. The understated landscape design by Irving Payne accentuated the statue without overwhelming the small site.

The most prominent feature of Reservation 309 B is the statue of Francis Asbury. The Asbury Memorial, the work of prominent sculptor Augustus Lukeman. The Francis Asbury Memorial is a bronze, life-size, equestrian statue on a marble pedestal located in the center of Reservation 309-B. The sculpture is rendered following the tenets of Naturalism. Asbury wears a cloak and a wide-brimmed hat. His right arm is bent and he carries a bible in front of his chest. The hand holds the closed book while his forefinger is inserted between the pages to mark a particular passage. The horse, carrying a bulging saddlebag, bends his neck toward his left knee.
The east-west concrete walk located north of the memorial is lined with benches. The large canopy trees beyond partially obscure the historic building just north of them.
The east-west concrete walk located north of the memorial

NCR CLP, 2007

The upper 16th Street Corridor and Mount Pleasant, where US Reservation 309 B is located, grew further as a result of the streetcar and suburban development in Washington, DC. The street car enabled middle class residents to move from the central city to the suburbs in an attempt to recreate the bucolic villages of the past in an urban environment. Mount Pleasant was one of Washington, DC’s earliest streetcar suburbs.

Reservation 309 B was created as part of a grand plan advanced by Mary Henderson, the wife of Missouri Senator John Henderson, and guided by the 1902 McMillan Commission Report. Streets constructed after 1902 were heavily influenced by the McMillan Commission which intended to extend the Beaux-Arts city past the monumental core and into Washington’s neighborhoods. 16th Street was important not for being the heart of the old village of Mount Pleasant, but because it played an important role in the vision of a new Washington.
Two historic ash trees frame the memorial and screen the Kennesaw Apartments.
Two historic ash trees frame the memorial and screen the Kennesaw Apartments.

NCR CLP, 2007

US Reservation 309 B retains integrity for its period of significance, 1903-1924. The landscape of 309 B has been altered slightly, but was relatively unchanged until 1988 when several of the reservations in the Mount Pleasant Park neighborhood were rehabilitated. Despite some deterioration, the results of the 1988 rehabilitation are still clearly evident. The cultural landscape today evokes the historic significance of the property retaining integrity of location, design, setting, and feeling.

Though the Asbury Memorial, US Reservation 309 B still retains many characteristics of its 1924 design, the cultural landscape is in fair condition. It is subject to heavy use by pedestrians, including homeless individuals. This use affects the soil, vegetation, and furnishings of the park. The vegetation, especially the historic ash trees, should be pruned and or replanted as necessary to improve the landscape to good condition. The 1924 and 1988 landscape plans may serve as guides.

Quick Facts

  • Cultural Landscape Type: Designed
  • National Register Significance Level: National
  • National Register Significance Criteria: C
  • Period of Significance: 1903-1924

Last updated: May 21, 2019