NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Shaw/Logan Circle, Architecturally Significant, Children’s Literature, Diplomats, Environmentalists, Journalists

Frank Carpenter
(1855 – 1924)

1318 Vermont Ave. NW, Logan Circle neighborhood, DC. Now the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House Historic Site administered by the National Park Service. Free tours offered on the hour daily. Visitors are asked to call ahead.

Carpenter was a journalist and photographer who came to DC as the correspondent for the Cleveland Leader newspaper in 1882. His columns (written from 1882 to 1888) were collected into the book Carp’s Washington (published posthumously in 1960, and edited by his daughter Frances Carpenter). They are considered an invaluable resource on the early development and growth of the city.

By 1887, Carpenter was also manager of the American Press Association. In 1888, he began his world travels, using DC as a home base (where his real estate holdings made him a millionaire). He wrote a weekly “letter” describing life in foreign countries that was syndicated to twelve US newspapers and collected into the travel book series Carpenter’s World Travels (eleven books, published between 1898 and 1927).

Carpenter was a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society, a member of the National Press Club, and author of Carpenter’s Geographic Readers, a series of six textbooks used in US public schools for over forty years. Other books of his number at least 24 titles, and include Foods: or, How the World is Fed (1907), Around the World with Children (1917), From Tangier to Tripoli (1923), Alaska: Our Northern Wonderland (1923), Land of the Andes and the Desert (1924), and The Houses We Live In (1926). He died in Nanking, China at age 69 during his third around-the-world trip.

From 1943 to 1955 this townhouse was later home to the pioneering civil rights activist Mary McLeod Bethune. It is now administered by the National Park Service in her honor.

Architect: William Roose
Year: c. 1874
Named a National Historic Site in 1982, this Second Empire Victorian townhouse was acquired by the National Park Service in 1994. Carpenter was the house’s second owner; Mary McLeod Bethune was the fourth.


Mary McLeod Bethune Council House Historic Site

Historic photo courtesy of Library of Congress