Columbia Heights Heritage Trail
16 Mansions, Parks, and People
On your right is Josephine Butler Parks Center, home of Washington Parks & People, a network of groups devoted to DC and its parks. The network's 1927 mansion, which once housed the Hungarian delegation, was part of an embassy row envisioned by Mary Foote Henderson for this area. Henderson built a "castle" across 16th street for her family, and commissioned important architects to create an enclave worthy of important residents. Meridian Hill Park was also a result of her influence. In the 1980s, the park (by then also called Malcolm X Park) had become forbidding and dangerous, and the mansion was vacant. Then Friends of Meridian Hill came together in 1990. By the end of the decade, when Parks & People bought the mansion, the park again thrived. The first phase of the National Park Service's restoration of the park to its original design was completed in 2009.
The Parks Center, housing nonprofit groups, memorializes Josephine Butler (1920-1997), a union and political activist and educator who led Washington Parks & People at the time of her death. Just ahead at the corner of Euclid Street is the Embassy of Ecuador, formerly the Netherlands Embassy. Please proceed through the park and turn right on 16th Street to reach Sign 17. Along the way you'll see Warder-Totten House at 1633 16th. George Oakley Totten Jr. architect of the Parks Center, salvaged most of a house designed by his teacher renowned architect H.H. Richardson, and rebuilt it here in Washington.