New historical walking tour in Washington features famous Gordon Parks photo subject

Posted on July 19th, 2013 by

Last Saturday, Mayor Vincent Gray and others helped inaugurate a new Heritage Walk in Washington D.C. Washington’s Heritage Walks are self-guided walking tours set up in historic neighborhoods around the city, each consisting of a series of plaques telling the history of the area or a specific site.

The Logan Circle Heritage Walk plaque in front of Ella Watson’s home
Photo credit: The Ciesla Foundation, July 18, 2013

The new tour is in Logan Circle, a neighborhood that was home to Ella Watson, famously photographed in 1942 by Gordon Parks in an provocative work he titled “American Gothic.” Parks followed Watson in her daily life for about a month, and many of the pictures in his series for the Farm Security Administration were taken in her home at 1433 11th Street NW.

1433 11th Street NW, Washington: Ella Watson’s home in 1942
Photo credit: The Ciesla Foundation, July 18, 2013

The building Watson lived in with her family still stands but is currently vacant – increasingly rare for Logan Circle, an area that has seen rapid renovation in recent history. Below you can see a picture Parks took out the front window of Watson’s second floor apartment, showing two rowhomes across the street that are also still standing at the corner of P Street NW. Click here to browse the rest of the Library of Congress’s collection of Parks’ Ella Watson photographs.

Washington, D.C. View from the bedroom window of Mrs. Ella Watson, a government worker
Photo credit: Gordon Parks, August 1942, OWI/FSA (LOC)

Another notable site on the new Logan Circle Heritage Walk is St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, designed by Calvin T.S. Brent, an early African American architect from the District of Columbia. His son, John Edmondson Brent, who designed the Rosenwald YMCA in Buffalo, was the subject of a post on this blog earlier this month.

By Michael Rose

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