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“Great historical site”

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
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African American History Tour
Ranked #86 of 458 things to do in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Honoring the most famous African-American, this National Historic Site consists of Douglass' home and a visitor center and is dedicated to preserving his legacy of work on behalf of African Americans.
Reviewed 16 September 2013

Frederick Douglass's home in south Washington DC is well worth the trip. First, he was a truly amazing man. Second, the house is well preserved with many of his artifacts. The tour guides are well informed and helpful. And the view of Washington from his front lawn in probably the finest in the entire city.

1  Thank DBfromKC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 September 2013

I visited the Frederick Douglass National HIstoric Site with three elementary school aged children. We called on the way there to sign up for the tour and were able to get in, no problems for the 9:00 AM tour on a summer weekday. There is a free parking lot at the site. The visitor center (right next door to the house and parking lot) is where you can check in for the tour and pick up Junior Ranger booklets for the kids (all free of charge). The house itself is situated in a residential neighborhood on the street, but be aware that there is a steep hill in the front yard and that you will need to climb up some steps. There is also a steep staircase in the home. (No strollers)

A park ranger gives a guided tour of the interior of the house. Highlights for the children included seeing portraits of Frederick Douglass and his family, seeing his original hat and books, his desk, his checkers set, his piano and violin, kitchen with an old fashioned ice box and his dumbbells.

After the tour, we headed back to the visitor center to complete the Junior Ranger booklets. The kids used the information in the small display area in the visitor center to complete the questions in their books. Information in the center include a timeline and biography of Douglass's life, several artifacts under glass such as a cane given to Frederick Douglass that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln. Also, there are many quotes and photos as well as a life size statue of Frederick Douglass (a good place to take some photos).

There is also a film in the visitor center. The film was probably around three decades old. Just a note to parents, there are graphic images of a young man being whipped with blood running down his back in the film. The "N" word is also used several times, so use parental discretion.

There is a bookstore at the center as well with a decent children's book section and several biographies of Frederick Douglass written for children.

The visitor center has a bathroom, but no food. It took around two hours to tour the house, see the film, read the information in the displays, visit the bookstore and complete the Junior Ranger booklets.

This is an amazing educational field trip - completely FREE that would enhance anyone's understanding of Frederick Douglass, his life, times and legacy. Educational and inspirational. A great treasure for the community.

Another field trip to complement this would be to visit the African American Civil War Museum in Washington, DC which is also free. Two of Frederick Douglass's sons served in the 54th regiment in the Civil War.

5  Thank moijadore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 August 2013 via mobile

Entry is free but you must have a ticket to get in from the NPS. The FD house has been very well maintained and looks like it did while he was alive. His furniture, books, paintings, dishes, personal belongings etc. are on display. The park ranger did an excellent job in telling us the story of Frederick Douglass' life and accomplishments. Worth the trip to Anacostia in DC!

1  Thank Texas5mom
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 July 2013

This is a very busy historic site. Well worth the advance planning, but do reserve the tickets at least a day ahead - that is the only way to guarantee a tour. People are turned away everyday because of full tours.

Thank Lisa S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2013

We came to the Frederick Douglass house on a Saturday afternoon and were a little overwhelmed at first by a couple tour bus crowds occupying the visitor's center. Once the crowds filtered out, however, we were able to enjoy our experience there a little more. The film presented in the visitor's center was good and worth viewing. Once in the main house, our tour guide (Lisa) was fabulous and clearly had a passion for the history behind the place. The tour was "short and sweet" compared to other historical tours we've done in the past. The guide kept us moving through the different rooms and we didn't feel like we were standing around forever. The children in our tour group had been showing signs of impatience as we waited on the house porch to begin the tour, but once we started moving the kiddos were fine and didn't seem bored on the tour. In sum, this historical site accomplished its goal- we didn't have much prior knowledge about Frederick Douglass before coming here, but left with a new respect and appreciation for his extraordinary life and character.

If you have a chance, follow the driveway around to the back of the house, to see some more of the grounds and a reconstruction of the Growlery (Douglass' more scholarly version of today's "man cave.") Also, our tour guide pointed out that copies of Douglass' autobiography sell for only $1.50 inside the visitor's center bookshop if you want to read about his life in his own words.

As for the Anacostia neighborhood having a reputation for being "rough"- I work in the neighborhood and I actually find it quite beautiful, with tree-lined streets and lots of historic homes. It's not the war zone that first-time visitors to Southeast DC might be lead to expect. I recommend the Frederick Douglass house in its own right, but also for visitors who are looking to go off the tourist trail and see a part of DC they might not see otherwise. I will surely be returning here with out-of-town guests who come to visit us in DC!

5  Thank julia7178
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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