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Frederick Douglass Home Reopens

National Capital Parks-East

National Park News

The Douglass home at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site reopens today after the completion of a $2.7 million preservation project that showcases the home in which one of this nation's most prominent African American leaders of the 19th century lived, worked, and died.

The three-year restoration includes new, historically accurate interior and exterior paint changes, new wallpaper, carpeting and wood graining, an updated and improved heating and air-conditioning system, a new fire protection system, other repairs and improvements and new group tour procedures to enhance the visitor’s experience.

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will lead other dignitaries in reopening the home. Other leaders participating in the reopening ceremony will be Mary Bomar, Director of the National Park Service, which administers the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site; Eleanor Holmes Norton, Delegate, U.S. House of Representatives; and Adrian Fenty, Mayor of the District of Columbia.

 The extensive three-year effort includes addressing both the physical needs of the house and the collection of artifacts of Cedar Hill, the name of the estate in southeast Washington where Douglass continued his work as a skilled and influential orator and civil rights leader.   The home's enhancements include:   

  • the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system was replaced with new equipment,
  • a computerized climate control system has been installed which regulates temperature and humidity and provides a stable environment for the historic objects now on display in the home, 
  • 56 historic windows have been restored to their original luster,
  • 61 new louvered shutters have been installed throughout the home, and,
  • a fire protection system has been installed.   

Standing as a symbol of Frederick Douglass' triumph and achievements, Douglass lived in this residence for the final 18 years of his life when he served the nation as statesman and civil rights advocate.  The restoration of his home includes elements that more accurately portray the Douglass home in its 1893 - 1895 splendor.  Extensive analysis revealed that Douglass had painted the house beige, an earth tone that was considered very stylish in the Victorian period.  The NPS has returned the home to this historically accurate color scheme.   Inside, new wallpaper, carpeting, and wood graining (a specialized painting technique) accurately reflect popular Victorian-era patterns and colors that were seen in the Douglass home.  Research conducted during the past three years has also revealed that Douglass expanded the house from six to 20 rooms between the years 1877 and 1893.  This scholarship and other revelations are now reflected in the improved site tours.  New group tour procedures will also enhance the visitor’s experience and help resource protection efforts. 

Beginning Thursday, February 15th, the NPS will resume regular tours of the Douglass home between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.   Reservations are encouraged for all tours of the Douglass Home.  Groups greater than 10 persons are required to make reservations.  For more information please call (202) 426-5961 or visit www.nps.gov/frdo.   For tour reservations, please call 1-877-444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov.  



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