Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site

Overview

Mary McLeod Bethune was the 15th of 17 children of former slaves. She grew up amidst the poverty and oppression of the Reconstruction South, yet rose to prominence as an educator, presidential advisor, and political activist. Her life demonstrated the value of education, a philosophy of universal love, and the wise and consistent use of political power in striving for racial and gender equality.

Mary McLeod Bethune achieved her greatest national and international recognition at the Washington, D.C. townhouse at 1318 Vermont Avenue, NW, that is now this historic site. It was the first headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and was her last home in Washington, D.C. From here, Bethune and the Council spearheaded strategies and developed programs that advanced the interests of African American women and the Black community. The site is also home to the National Archives for Black Women's History.

The council house is open year-round Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with the exceptions of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. The last tour starts at 4 p.m. The archives are open by appointment only.

Map

Activities

Seasonality / Weather

Summer weather in the DC area can be very humid. Please be sure to drink lots of water and take your time walking from the Metro to the site. Ice storms in the winter can make travel challenging, but are not the norm.

Directions

Driving: 

From Baltimore and Points North:
Take the Baltimore-Washington Parkway south to US Route 50 west (which becomes New York Avenue). Take New York Avenue to Massachusetts Avenue and continue west. Turn right onto 13th Street. Go one block and turn left onto N Street. Go another block and turn right onto Vermont Avenue. 1318 is one half block up the street on the left.

From Virginia and Points South:
Take 14th Street north to Thomas Circle. Make a right off Thomas Circle onto Vermont Avenue. Cross over N Street, and 1318 is one half block ahead on the left.

Note: Street parking is very limited and restricted. Make sure you read the signs. The closest parking garage is beneath the Washington Plaza Hotel on the northeast quadrant of Thomas Circle at Vermont Avenue and M Street.

Public Transport: 

The closest Metrorail Stations are U Street/Cardozo/African American Civil War Memorial on the Green Line, and McPherson Square on the Orange and Blue lines.

Walk from U Street Station: Take the 13th Street exit from the station and turn left to walk south on 13th Street until you reach Logan Circle. Cross or go around the circle and continue southwest on Vermont Avenue and 1318 is one half block ahead on the right.

Walk from McPherson Square Station: Take the 14th Street exit from the station, walk north on 14th Street until you reach Thomas Circle. Cross or go around the circle and walk northeast onto Vermont Avenue. Cross over N Street, and 1318 is one half block ahead on the left.

The Circulator bus line runs from Union Station with a stop at 14th and K Streets. From the stop, walk north on 14th Street until you reach Thomas Circle. Cross or go around the circle and walk northeast onto Vermont Avenue. Cross over N Street, and 1318 is one half block ahead on the left.

By Metro bus, the closest are the 68 and 66 routes. Both can be boarded outside the 11th Street exit from the Metro Center station on the Metrorail Red Line. Each bus stops at N Street (the 68 on 13th Street, and the 66 on 11th Street). Walk west (left) down N Street to Vermont Avenue, turn right, and 1318 is one half block ahead on the left.