Sixteenth Street NW

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304 pp., 6.5 x 9.5
ISBN: 9781647121563 ()

ISBN: 9781647121570

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February 2022
Sales Rights: World


Table of Contents

Sixteenth Street NW
Washington, DC's Avenue of Ambitions
John DeFerrari and Douglas Peter Sefton
A richly illustrated architectural "biography" of one of DC's most important boulevards

Sixteenth Street NW in Washington, DC, has been called the Avenue of the Presidents, Executive Avenue, and the Avenue of Churches. From the front door of the White House, this north-south artery runs through the middle of the District and extends just past its border with Maryland. The street is as central to the cityscape as it is to DC's history and culture.

In Sixteenth Street NW: Washington, DC's Avenue of Ambitions, John DeFerrari and Douglas Peter Sefton depict the social and architectural history of the street and immediate neighborhoods, inviting readers to explore how the push and pull between ordinary Washingtonians and powerful elites has shaped the corridor—and the city. This highly illustrated book features notable buildings along Sixteenth Street and recounts colorful stories of those who lived, worked, and worshipped there. Maps offer readers an opportunity to create self-guided tours of the places and people that have defined this main thoroughfare over time.

What readers will find is that both then and now, Sixteenth Street NW has been shaped by a diverse array of people and communities. The street, and the book, feature a range of sites—from Black Lives Matter Plaza to the White House, from mansions and rowhomes to apartment buildings, from Meridian Hill (Malcolm X) Park with its drum circles to Rock Creek Park with its tennis tournaments, and from hotels to houses of worship. Sixteenth Street, NW reveals a cross section of Washington, DC, that shows the vibrant makeup of our nation's capital.
John DeFerrari is a native Washingtonian with a lifelong passion for local history, which he writes about on his blog, Streets of Washington. He is the author of Capital Streetcars: Early Mass Transit in Washington, DC; Historic Restaurants of Washington, DC: Capital Eats; and Lost Washington, DC.

Douglas Peter Sefton is an architectural historian, creator of the preservation website Victorian Secrets of Washington, DC, and a member of the board of trustees of the DC Preservation League.
"DeFerrari and Sefton have probed a wide range of sources and scholarship to provide a rich and stimulating view of one of the great avenues of Washington, DC, and the United States."—Richard Longstreth, professor emeritus of American Studies, George Washington University

"Sixteenth Street is one of the grand avenues of the L'Enfant Plan, a cardinal axis through the city from the White House to its northern border, but its history is anything but linear. DeFerrari and Sefton compellingly weave together a complex history of people and events that unexpectedly and intentionally crisscross and overlap the avenue as it courses through the city and time."—Kim Prothro Williams, architectural historian and author

"A prodigiously-researched, myth-busting treatise. Authors DeFerrari and Sefton consulted well over two hundred sources-including biographies, landmark nominations, technical construction manuals, novels, magazines, journals, and newspapers-in order to document not only the built environment of Sixteenth Street, NW but its planners, architects, builders, developers, and occupants, as well as those who sought to demolish many of its most prized edifices (sometimes successfully) and those who prevailed in preserving one of America's most renowned streets, including DeFerrari and Sefton."—Sally Berk, recipient of the District of Columbia Lifetime Achievement Award in Historic Preservation

"An absolutely fascinating, impressively informative, and specific local history that includes a community roadway's history, architecture, land use planning, politics, social issues, and people responsible for making it what it is today, "Sixteenth Street NW: Washington, DC's Avenue of Ambitions" is a work of meticulous and documented detail."—Midwest Book Review

Table of Contents


1. Planning a Grand Avenue

2. Sixteenth Street from the Gilded Age to the "City Beautiful"

3. Mary Foote Henderson and the Rise of Meridian Hill

4. Sixteenth Street in the Automobile Age

5. Moderne and Modern: The 1930s and 1940s

6. Mid-Century Upheaval





About the Authors