Bank of Brightwood building
Bank of Brightwood building
Map of Washington, D.C., with Brightwood highlighted in red
Map of Washington, D.C., with Brightwood highlighted in red
Coordinates: 38°57′40″N 77°01′39″W / 38.9612°N 77.0275°W / 38.9612; -77.0275Coordinates: 38°57′40″N 77°01′39″W / 38.9612°N 77.0275°W / 38.9612; -77.0275
CountryUnited States
DistrictWashington, D.C.
WardWard 4
 • CouncilmemberJaneese Lewis George

Brightwood is a neighborhood in the northwestern quadrant of Washington, D.C. Brightwood is part of Ward 4.


Intersection of 14th St. and Tuckerman St. NW, Brightwood, February 2018
Intersection of 14th St. and Tuckerman St. NW, Brightwood, February 2018

The boundaries of Brightwood have varied over the years. In the mid-nineteenth century, the name generally encompassed the region north of Brightwood Park, west of Fort Totten, east of Rock Creek, and south of the Maryland line.[1]: 89  Today, the Brightwood Community Association, an association of residents and business owners from the western part of Brightwood, define the neighborhood's boundaries as Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Aspen Street to the north, 16th Street and Rock Creek Park to the west, Georgia Avenue to the east, and Kennedy Street to the south.[2] Other widely accepted variations bound Brightwood on the east by 5th Street.[3] The DC Government's Citizens Atlas bounds the Brightwood Assessment Neighborhood to the south at Missouri Avenue.[4] Nearby neighborhoods include Shepherd Park and Takoma to the north, Manor Park to the east, and Sixteenth Street Heights and Petworth to the south. At the 2010 census, the neighborhood had 11,242 residents.[5]

Much of the retail stores in the neighborhood sit along Georgia Avenue. The neighborhood has no Metrorail stations, although the Takoma Metrorail station and Fort Totten Metro Station are within walking distance. Several Metrobus routes serve the community.

Brightwood is at an elevation of 292 feet (89 m).[6]


Crystal Springs

The land was part of a land patent called White Mill Seat in 1756.[7] The name was changed to Peter's Mill Seat in 1800.[7] Later, the area was called Crystal Springs, named after the pure water that flowed from several nearby springs.[7] One of the springs was located near the modern-day intersection of Fourteenth and Kennedy streets,[1]: 98  which still flows in the present day, creating a constant stream of water on the sidewalk of the western side of Fourteenth Street, across from the Metrobus building. The area had many chestnut trees, and it was considered a place to enjoy with family.[8] The Passenger Railroad Company ran hourly stagecoaches from Fourteenth Street and Boundary Avenue to the springs, charging 25 cents per ride.[9]

The area was later known as Brighton, but residents decided to change the name to Brightwood in the 1840s[10] because the postal service frequently confused it with Brighton, Maryland. Archibald White and Louis Brunett are generally given credit for the new name.[1]: 98 

Emory United Methodist Church

Emory United Methodist Church
Emory United Methodist Church

Emory M.E. Church was built in 1832 when A.G. Pierce donated a half-acre of land in to build a church and a school. The original building stood two stories high: a first floor of logs for the school; and a second story of frame construction for worship, with a separate entrance from the outside. Black worshippers sat in a gallery. The church was named for John Emory of Queen Anne's County, Maryland, who had just been ordained bishop. Bishop Emory paid the $200 salary of the preacher's salary. In 1856, the 72-person congregation replaced the building with a red-brick structure that was torn down in 1861 for Union Army fortifications. A stone church was built in 1870.[1]: 101  The present-day building, at 6100 Georgia Avenue NW, was erected in 1921. The churchyard was originally used as a cemetery, customary use of such land in those days.[1]: 102  Some of the deceased were later moved to Rock Creek Cemetery.[1]: 101 

From the late 1970s to 1992, Emory's membership sharply declined, and the church was sold on almost two occasions. In 1992, Rev. Joseph W. Daniels Jr. came to Emory to serve as its part-time pastor. At the time, Emory's membership was 85 with an average worship size of 55 people. Under Daniels, average weekly attendance has grown from 55 people to more than over 400.[citation needed] The United Methodist Church organization has given Emory the "Kim Jefferson Northeast Jurisdictional Award" for effective urban ministry and designated it one of the 25 Congregational Resource Centers in the "Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century" effort.[citation needed]

Fort Stevens

Fort Stevens recreation
Fort Stevens recreation

Brightwood is home to Fort Stevens, a Civil War fortification built by the Union Army as part of the defenses of Washington, D.C. The fort was built on the site of Emory Church, which was torn down and its bricks were used for the fort and baking ovens. A nearby log building used by the church was also torn down and its logs used to build a guardhouse for unruly soldiers.[1]: 101  Fort Stevens was attacked by 20,000 Confederate soldiers led by General Jubal Early during the Battle of Fort Stevens, July 11–12, 1864. The Confederate attack was repulsed. The congregation petitioned Congress for compensation for the torn-down church, Congress appropriated $412 for rent for use of the grounds.[1]: 102  Following petitions from veterans formerly stationed at the fort,[11] Congress established a park at the site and a memorial plaque.[1]: 102  Forty soldiers are buried in the nearby historic Battleground National Cemetery.[12] An 1885 police census documented the population of Brightwood as 104.[13]

Brightwood Trotting Park

Brightwood was home to a horse racetrack originally named Crystal Springs Park, then Piney Branch Park, and finally Brightwood Trotting Park.[1]: 98 [14] A tavern was nearby, operated by Frederick G. Rohr and later by his widow Annie M. Rohr. It was common for people to watch the races, swim in nearby Rock Creek, and have a picnic lunch. After many years, Brightwood Trotting Park greatly decreased in popularity. During its last year of operation, it was primarily used for racing mules.[1]: 99  The course was closed in 1909[15] in order to make way for the extension of Sixteenth Street.[16]

Other historic sites

Moreland's Tavern sat at the corner of modern-day Georgia and Missouri avenues before the Civil War. The building later became the Brightwood Club House, known for being a nice place to ride a horse and enjoy a drink. It eventually became the site of a Masonic Temple.[7]

Brightwood was also the location of the first successful flight by a helicopter in the United States in 1909.[17]

The Sheridan Theater, a motion-picture theater, opened on Georgia Avenue between Rittenhouse and Sheridan Streets in 1937.[18] The first feature was Sing Me A Love Song.[18]

Other historic sites include Engine Company 22 on Georgia Avenue NW, Fort View Apartments, which overlook the site of Fort Stevens and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Military Road School, which opened in 1864 and was one of the first schools in Washington to open after Congress authorized the education of African Americans.[19]


Immigrant communities

Brightwood has the highest percentage of immigrants of any neighborhood in D.C., with immigrants making up nearly 50 percent of the population. Brightwood also has the highest percentage of Ethiopians (16%) and Salvadorans (19%) of any neighborhood;[20] Salvadorans and Ethiopians are the two largest immigrant groups in Washington D.C. Brightwood's immigrant communities are mainly from Ethiopia, Eritrea, El Salvador and the rest of Central America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines.[21]


Redevelopment of the commercial area along Georgia Avenue is in progress.[22] Condominiums were completed at the corner of Georgia and Missouri Avenues in 2006, and a new restaurant called Meridian on the first floor of the building opened in January 2008. Meridian closed in June 2008,[23] and then reopened as Brightwood Bistro in August 2008.[24] As of May 2012, the Brightwood Bistro has closed and the space is looking for a new tenant.

Foulger-Pratt Development Inc., the company that redeveloped much of downtown Silver Spring,[25] had plans to build a new building with 400 residential units, restaurants, retail, and underground parking at the former site of the Curtis Chevrolet dealership at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Peabody Street.[25][26][27][28] The D.C. Historical Preservation Society requested that Foulger-Pratt's design incorporate the car barn located on the site rather than demolish it,[29] and it planned to seek historical designation for the car barn, built in 1909.[25] In response, Foulger-Pratt proposed to raze only the rear of the structure and renovate the front.[25] According to the application submitted to the District of Columbia Office of Planning, the ground floor would have had retail and parking; the upper floors would have had around 400 residential apartments, up to eight percent of which will be reserved as affordable; and the basement would have had a parking garage.[30] A portion of the car barn would have been retained.[30] According to the plan, breaking ground was anticipated in summer of 2010,[30] but the plans ultimately fell through.

In November 2010, Walmart announced interest in opening a store at the location by 2012.[31] Walmart said building a store on the site would not require a hearing before the Zoning Commission, nor any input from any advisory neighborhood commission.[32] Some neighborhood residents were opposed to the Walmart.[33] The entire site, including the car barn, was demolished in March 2012. Walmart commenced operations in December 2013.[34]

The Emory Beacon Center
The Emory Beacon Center

The Beacon Center, a $55.3 million redevelopment surrounding the historic Emory United Methodist Church in Brightwood, opened in 2019 to provide housing for individuals transitioning out of homelessness. The project delivered 99 housing units, with 91 of the units reserved for low-income tenants making 60 percent or less than the area's median income. The remaining eight units will be permanent supportive housing for the formerly homeless.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Proctor, John Clagett (1949). Proctor's Washington and Environs. John Clagett Proctor.
  2. ^ "About BCA" Archived 2008-05-09 at the Wayback Machine. Brightwood Community Association. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  3. ^ "Brightwood" Archived May 27, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. Cultural Tourism DC. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
  4. ^ "DC Citizens Atlas". Archived from the original on 13 December 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
  5. ^ "District of Columbia - New Ward 4 2010 Total Population by Census Block by Ward, ANC and SMD Boundaries" (PDF). Office of Planning. Government of the District of Columbia. July 1, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 6, 2012. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  6. ^ Rand McNally Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide. Vol. 2 (141 ed.). Rand McNally. 2010. p. 47.
  7. ^ a b c d Proctor, John Clagett (February 13, 1938). "Reservoir Razed: Brightwood Landmark Doomed as New Recreation Center is Created on Site—Horse Race History". Washington Evening Star. p. 30.
  8. ^ "Crystal Springs" (classified advertisement). Washington Evening Star. July 3, 1860. p. 2.
  9. ^ Ferguson, B. (June 24, 1863). "Coaches for Crystal Spring" (classified advertisement). Washington Evening Star. p. 3.
  10. ^ Proctor, John Clagett, ed. (1930). Washington Past and Present. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc. p. 146.
  11. ^ "For Park at Fort Stevens". The Washington Post. December 21, 1906. p. 13. ProQuest 144706560.
  12. ^ "For Fort Stevens' Dead". The Washington Post. May 31, 1907. p. 2. ProQuest 144801372.
  13. ^ Proctor, John Clagett, ed. (1930). Washington Past and Present. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company Inc. p. 157.
  14. ^ "Racing Near Washington" (PDF). The New York Times. November 18, 1876.
  15. ^ Schofield, Carl (December 19, 1909). "Historic Race Course Gone". The Sunday Chronicle. Paterson, New Jersey. p. 14.
  16. ^ "Passing of Brightwood Park". The Washington Post. October 7, 1909. p. 6. ProQuest 144907370.
  17. ^ "Helicoptre Lifts Itself and Man". The Youngstown Daily Vindicator. July 1, 1909. p. 14.
  18. ^ a b Bell, Nelson B. (January 15, 1927). "Warners Open the Sheridan on Georgia Ave". The Washington Post. p. 13. ProQuest 150952095.
  19. ^ "Military Road School, African American Heritage Trail". Cultural Tourism DC. Archived from the original on 2012-05-12. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  20. ^ "The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States - Statistical Atlas". Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  21. ^ "The Demographic Statistical Atlas of the United States - Statistical Atlas". Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  22. ^ "Upper Georgia Avenue Land Development Plan" Archived March 27, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. District of Columbia Office of Planning. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  23. ^ McCart, Melissa. "Busy Georgia Ave. Corner Gets Restaurant Anchor". Express. January 9, 2008.
  24. ^ Frederick, Missy. "Brightwood Bistro takes over former Meridian site". Washington Business Journal. September 12, 2008. Retrieved September 15, 2008.
  25. ^ a b c d O'Connell, Jonathan. "Foulger-Pratt to save part of historic D.C. car barn". Washington Business Journal. August 11, 2008. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  26. ^ Schwartzman, Paul. "Deal Close on Georgia Ave. Dealership Site". The Washington Post. January 12, 2008.
  27. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan. "Foulger-Pratt to Turn Georgia Ave. Car Lot into New Mixed-use Project". Washington Business Journal. November 30, 2007.
  28. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan. "Neighborhood TIF comes to Georgia Ave. corridor". Washington Business Journal. December 7, 2007. Retrieved October 1, 2008.
  29. ^ Moore, Wayetu. "Historical Society Scrutinizing Plans for High-Rise on Former Car Lot in Brightwood" Archived 2008-06-17 at the Wayback Machine. Black College View. April 6, 2008.
  30. ^ a b c "Curtis Chevrolet Site: Application for Large tract Review Approval: Statement in Support" (PDF). Missouri Avenue Development Partners LLC. District of Columbia Office of Planning. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-02-27.
  31. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan; DeBonis, Mike (November 18, 2010). "Wal-Mart plans to open 4 stores in the District". The Washington Post.
  32. ^ Frederick, Missy (November 18, 2010). "Wal-Mart is coming to D.C. Now what?". Washington Business Journal.
  33. ^ O'Connell, Jonathan (December 16, 2010). "Activists wage campaign against Wal-Mart in D.C." The Washington Post.
  34. ^ Mollet, Melissa; DiMargo, Carissa (December 4, 2013). "Walmart opens first DC Stores". NBC4 Washington. Retrieved February 17, 2019.
  35. ^ Austermuhle, Martin (October 12, 2016). "The Battle For Fort Stevens: How Civil War Buffs And A Church Fought Over Housing". WAMU. Retrieved 12 December 2020.