1. What's this all about?
2. Who’s eligible?
.What kinds of author houses are featured?
4. How did you decide on the categories?
5. How did you define the Washington Region?
6. Why no Southwest quadrant?
7. Do you always use current addresses?
8. How long have you been doing this?
9. Will you be updating this site?
10. Why is my favorite author missing?
. Who are your partners?
What's this all about?
This project documents the homes of literary authors who once lived in the greater Washington, DC region. We wanted to honor the widest range of literary authors possible, including authors of different backgrounds, writing styles, and influences. We include novelists, poets, playwrights, and memoirists. We do not include writers who were solely journalists, and, with few exceptions, authors of genre literature. We have tried hard to include authors from a range of time periods, from the city's founding in 1800 through the present.
Some of the authors on the list remain famous, and their work continues to be read, such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Frederick Douglass, Katherine Anne Porter, Zora Neale Hurston, and Sinclair Lewis. Others are barely remembered, but their stories, too, are part of the city's history. By including the lesser-known writers, we begin to see how all authors form a network, a community that supported and influenced one another.
When we started this project, driving around the city hunting down addresses, we were amazed to see how it transformed our sense of place. A nondescript block suddenly becomes fascinating when we can imagine it through the eyes of an author we admire.
We only include houses that are still standing, and we only include authors who have passed away, and whose published work has literary or historical merit. Authors who were temporary residents of the city, including foreign diplomats, US Poets Laureate, and visiting writers at area schools, are eligible for inclusion.
What kinds of author houses are featured?
Our list of houses now covers over two hundred and twenty five locations, spanning the range of urban architectural styles, from townhouses, detached homes, and apartment buildings, to a log cabin. A few houses are marked by historic plaques, but most are privately owned and unmarked.
How did you decide on the categories?
We hope this site will be of general interest to residents of the greater Washington, DC region who want to know more about their neighborhoods. Students and scholars may also find this site of use.
The Tour page lists all authors alphabetically. To increase the usefulness of this large list, we decided to cross-reference authors into categories as well. We have cross-referenced authors by affiliation, as well as geographic region and select neighborhoods, to better show how authors have influenced one another and formed communities. We created these groupings only if we had at least five entries in any category.
How did you define the Washington region?
We cover all areas that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority serves. If METRO goes into a jurisdiction, we include that entire jurisdiction. Communities outside the METRO service area are outside our purview.
Why no Southwest quadrant?
Among our geographic categories, readers will notice that one entire quadrant of DC is not listed. According to the parameters we set, we only include structures that still exist, and only include categories made up of five or more houses. While there were indeed authors who lived in the Southwest quadrant of DC, their houses are largely gone. There are a couple of reasons for the gap: SW is the city's smallest quadrant, and in the 1950s, it was subject to one of the largest urban renewal projects in the United States, so it is the section of the city with the lowest number of historic structures.
Do you always use current addresses?
Yes. The map of Washington, DC has changed, sometimes dramatically, over the course of the city's history, but we always use the current street names and numbers, translating older addresses where necessary.
Prior to retrocession in 1847, the area that is now Arlington County and the city of Alexandria was part of the Southwest quadrant of DC. Authors who once resided in that area can now be found in our Northern Virginia section.
After 1870, address numbers within the oldest part of the city were regularized. Before that time, houses were numbered as they were built, with no connection to cross streets. In the modern system, numbers follow the grid—so, for example, an address in the 400 block of L Street NW can be found between 4th and 5th streets. All pre-1870 addresses on our list are given in their current-day equivalents.
Finally, the original city included only the parts below Florida Avenue (then called Boundary Road) plus Georgetown. Everything north of Florida Avenue was Washington County. As the city expanded northward in the decades following the Civil War, some early developments did not conform to the old city's grid. As a result, some streets were later renamed. We use only the current names, even if the authors who lived there knew their streets by an earlier name. In all cases, we made this decision for ease of use by modern readers. We want you to be able to actually find these houses!
How long have you been doing this?
Don't ask! This has been an obsession of ours over the course of many years and has meant hundreds of hours in research and traversing the city to photograph these homes. As we continue to unearth addresses for our forebears, we plan to continue adding to this site. Suggestions for additions, as well as any corrections and questions, can be addressed to us at email@example.com.
Will you be updating this site?
Yes. As we learn new addresses, we plan to continue adding authors. To stay informed, sign up for our mailing list.
Why is my favorite author missing?
We looked for information on the following authors and were unable to confirm an address. Can you help us?
Lewis Grandison Alexander
Anne Lynch Botta
Carrie Williams Clifford
Mrs. Van Renssalaer Cruger
Clarissa Scott Delany
Percy Johnston, Jr.
Grace Denio Litchfield
John James Piatt and Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt
John Claggett Proctor
Salarrue (Salvador Efrain Salazar Arrue)
We are always open to other suggestions.
Media inquiries, suggestions for additions, corrections and questions are welcomed.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or signup for updates.
Who are your partners?