Frederick Douglass’ Cedar Hill House is located in the Federick Douglass National Historic Site in Anacostia, District of Columbia. The property is overseen by the National Park Service which is a bureau of the Department of the Interior.
Originally built between 1855 and 1859 by architect John Van Hook, Douglass purchased the property and 9 ¾ acres of land from the Freemen’s Savings and Trust Company in 1877 for $6,700. He additionally purchased an adjacent 5 ¾ acres of land to add to his estate.
After a year of renovations he moved in with his wife, Anna, in the fall of 1878. Throughout the years many improvements were made to the house. The original kitchen was converted into a dining room and a new kitchen was built in the south wing of the house. A two story addition was built in the rear of the house and by the time of his death in 1895 the mansion had 21 rooms.
Photograph of the western parlor taken in 1895.Click on image to enlarge.
Courtesy of the National Park Service, Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
This is the last home where Frederick Douglass lived, he lived in this house for the last 18 years of his life. After his death he left his estate to his widow, Helen Pitts, but the will was ruled invalid as it lacked the legal number of witnesses under the law. His children wanted to sell the property and divide the money among them. Helen had a different idea. She wanted to preserve the house as a legacy of the life of Frederick Douglass and in 1900 created the Douglass Memorial and Historical Association. In 1916 the National Association of Colored Women became co-owners of the property. In 1962 the Federal Government bought the property in order to preserve it.
The house is open to the public and can be visited all year round with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, December 25 and January 1st. The National Park Service offers tours. For operating hours and seasons click here.