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Neighborhood Profile: Brookland in Northeast Washington

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Brookland, a neighborhood in northeastern Washington, is perhaps best known for its nickname “Little Rome”, an apt description, as it is home to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America and is adjacent to the University campus. American Catholic. But Robert Malesky traced the neighborhood’s roots much deeper – back to namesake Jehiel Brooks, a US Army colonel and “Indian agent” from Louisiana who moved to the district in 1835 to begin developing the approximately 200 acres of farmland his wife owned there.

The story of Brooks – and the neighborhood that bears its name – is told in great detail, complete with photos and source documents, on Bygone Brookland, a visually lavish blog run by Malesky, 72, who started it in 2014, a few years after finishing a 34-year career at NPR. He was inspired to start digging into local history, he said, while taking long walks around the campus of Catholic University, his alma mater.

“I felt like this part of the district, the northeast quadrant, was normally ignored,” he said. “I thought there was an interesting story here. … It’s an integrated neighborhood, and the neighbors care about each other in a way that I’ve never seen in other neighborhoods.

Other labors of love started by locals include the Brookland Bridge blog, which updates neighbors on community events and local politics, and the two-year Bipeds of Brookland blog project, which includes compiled resident profiles. by real estate agents Jake Abbott and Shemaya Klar.

Sara Lucas was one of the first stars of Bipeds. Lucas, 73, has lived in Brookland for 49 years and has run his locally beloved flower shop, Petals Ribbons & Beyond, on NE 12th Street since 2005.

“It’s kind of like an institution, I’ve been there for so long,” she said.

When newcomers to the neighborhood visit her store, she says, she often gives them a copy of “Brookland (Pictures of America),” a tribute to the neighborhood’s rich history written by longtime residents John J. Feeley. Jr. and Rosie Dempsey.

Despite the neighborhood’s prime urban location, bordered by the Metro Red Line to the west and Rhode Island Avenue to the south, Lucas said she felt like she was in a small town within. from the limits of Brookland. Even though the neighborhood has grown over the years, adding restaurants and a few apartment buildings, the feeling persists. Residents greet each other by name, she says, and regulars stop inside the store to say hello.

“I can’t imagine living anywhere else in this city than here,” she said.

Abbott, part of the Abbott Klar real estate group, arrived in the neighborhood in 2001 as an AmeriCorps volunteer to work with Mary House, an organization providing resources for immigrants and refugees. He said he liked the neighborhood’s activist bent. Local clergy demonstrate against the war or in favor of immigration, for example, and Casey Trees, a nonprofit organization based in Brookland, lobbies and educates to protect DC’s tree canopy. This passion is also inscribed in the history of the district.

“When [Interstate 395] had to go through Brookland [in the late 1960s], the whole community got together and they fought,” Abbott said. “It has a long history of being a tight neighborhood.”

Neighbors praise the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association, a version of which was founded in 1880, for keeping the community informed and connected. The association organizes an annual garage sale throughout the neighborhood and several community clean-up days. Other popular events include a weekly Farmer’s Market and an annual “Brookland Day” picnic.

Although Brookland has had few retail and dining offerings, 12th Street NE now has a number of independent restaurants, including locally themed Brookland’s Finest Bar & Kitchen; Primrose Bistro and Wine Bar; and the Indian restaurant Masala Story.

Another favorite local institution is the Greater Brookland Garden Club, which hosts a popular annual house and garden tour. Brookland resident Rex Nutting, who has been with the club for most of its 24-year history, said he found great joy in the hard work and continuous learning that the practice of growing offer.

“It’s been a really good thing to get involved, to try to make the community a little nicer, a little friendlier,” said Nutting, 68. “I find people really like to talk about plants. They like to see what you’re doing, and they like to complain about their failures and celebrate their successes. You know, we all live in the same environment.

Live there: The Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association defines the boundaries as Buchanan Street NE, South Dakota Avenue NE, and Michigan Avenue NE to the north; 18th Street NE to the east; Rhode Island Avenue NE to the south; and subway tracks to the west.

Although home values ​​are climbing in DC, like everywhere, Abbott said homes in Brookland tend to be a bit more affordable than in more well-known neighborhoods. Common architecture includes Colonial and Victorian bungalows and central houses, and a few farmhouses recall the neighborhood’s early days. He said 134 single-family homes and townhouses have been sold over the past year, ranging from $483,000 for a three-bedroom repairman to $1.529 million for a 3,000-square-foot Craftsman-style home and of six bedrooms. The average selling price of homes is around $860,000 and 18 single-family homes are on the market.

Schools: Noyes Elementary, Brookland Middle, Dunbar High.

Transit: The Subway Red Line runs along the western border of Brookland, stopping at Brookland-CUA, as well as Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood in the southwest corner. Several metro buses also serve the area.

Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson