February 24, 2017

Visiting Terrell Place for National African American History Month in honor of Mary Church Terrell


Mary Church Terrell Memorial at Terrell Place, Washington D.C.

Terrell Place, Washington D.C. Caleb Tkach

If you’re in D.C. and looking for ways to immerse yourself in National African American History Month (or Black History Month) this February, you’ll want to add a visit Terrell Place in Downtown Washington (575 7th St N.W. – at E Street N.W.) to your list.

A Heritage Trail Stop: Terrell Place

Terrell Place is a dedicated stop on the city’s ‘Civil War to Civil Rights’ heritage trail and is named after civil rights activist and NAACP founding member Mary Church Terrell. It’s also the former site of the Hecht’s department store, where Terrell, at age 88, led a months-long protest in 1951 against segregation at the store’s lunch counter, with weekly sit-ins at the lunch counter and picket lines.

Mary Church Terrell Exhibit

Terrell was a central figure in the ongoing struggle for equality for all, and her history-changing work is now commemorated in a powerful way with the 2016 redesign of the Mary Church Terrell Exhibit. A prominent marker on the corner of 7th Street and F Street celebrates Terrell and includes historic context and photos of the famous boycott that took place at Hecht’s.

Mary Church Terrell Memorial at Terrell Place, Washington D.C.

Click to enlarge. Caleb Tkach

Inside the main lobby of Terrell Place (entrance on 7th Street), a graphic installation allows visitors to learn more about Terrell’s impact on the Civil Rights movement. Through the corridors linking the building’s entries, visitors will also hear ambient soundscapes inspired by Terrell. Many of the pieces Terrell cited as having been impactful in her life have been included, such as Elijah by Felix Mendelssohn, Hiwatha’s Wedding Feast and Deep River – 24 Negro Melodies both by Samuel Coleridge Taylor. These soundscapes are original compositions by Bruce Odland and add to the immersive environment created by ESI Design.

Terrell was a determined advocate of civil rights, gender equality, education reform, and the new exhibit at Terrell Place is a lasting reminder of her contribution to and inspiration for fair treatment, perseverance and courage everywhere.

You can also visit Mary Church Terrell’s home, a National Historic Landmark, at 326 T Street N.W., Washington, D.C.

Share your Terrell Place experience

Let us know in the comments if you visit Terrell Place or use the hashtag #TerrellPlace.