Time travelers should head straight for the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington DC if they want to be transported back to the late 19th century. Most of the homes on Logan Circle were built during a 25-year period from 1875 to 1900.
You’ll feel dizzy if you try to jog around the Logan (traffic) Circle while looking up to examine the Logan Circle homes. The houses are so tall!
Originally named Iowa Circle, the Logan Circle neighborhood was renamed by the U.S. Congress in 1930. The Circle comprises a roundabout park with an equestrian statue of General John A. Logan. On a busy weekend, you’ll see people reading on benches and dogs running around. It’s a great place for a picnic.
Cultural Tourism DC
Logan Circle Community Association (LCCA), in partnership with Cultural Tourism DC, created a self-guided walking tour of its historic neighborhood. The Logan Circle Heritage Trail is one of Cultural Tourism DC’s self-guided neighborhood tours.
“The elegant mansions around the park rose soon after the Civil War. Later, housing shortages and neighborhood decline turned them to rooming houses and even brothels. But today they shine again.”Cultural Tourism DC
Inaugurated in 2013, the tour starts at the corner of 16th and Q Streets, NW, three blocks east of the Metro Red line’s Dupont Circle stop (Q Street exit). It continues east from 16th street and then loops to the end at Logan Circle Park. There are 15 stops on the tour.
LCCA was founded in 1972 and “brings together residents, businesses, community organizations and government officials to promote a sense of community in our neighborhood.”
“Stroll past the myriad beautifully restored Victorian houses, including the former homes of renowned artists Gil Scott Heron and James Lesesne Wells. Discover religious institutions frequented by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and President Obama. See where the National Council of Negro Women got its start (and its next-door neighbor, a home for Confederate veterans). Learn about the Whitman-Walker Clinic’s heroic history.” (Pamphlet, Cultural Tourism DC)
19th Century Mansions
Located in the NW section of DC and wedged between historic 16th Street, Dupont Circle, and Shaw neighborhoods, Logan Circle boasts stately brick and stone houses.
Many loom four stories tall. The architectural style is Late Victorian and Richardsonian Romanesque. It is considered “a remarkably coherent example of architectural expression from the gaslight era.
While other areas of the city have been redeveloped, years of neglect have left Logan Circle’s original late-19th century appearance intact.”National Register of Historic Places
In June 1972, Logan Circle was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are 135 “contributing” historic buildings in the neighborhood.
If you prefer an expert to guide you around the neighborhood, I highly recommend booking a Washington Walks tour of Logan Circle. Typically the company’s founder and owner Carolyn Crouch leads the two-hour tour. Currently, it is only offered once a year as a special neighborhood tour.
“If you’re a fan of Second Empire or High Victorian Gothic homes, this walk is for you. If you’re fascinated by the dynamics of urban neighborhoods, consider the residents of Logan Circle: Their tenacity and vision preserved the historic district when it teetered on the brink of decline. Today it is a sought-after address in Washington,” said Crouch.
Solo Class Field Trip
I decided to repeat taking the Washington Walks tour this summer as I had just completed an Olli “history of architecture class” at American University. Getting out of the textbook and onto a street to study different architectural styles was illuminating for me.
In 1791 when Pierre L’Enfant designed the master place for the nation’s capital, he envisioned wide avenues and boulevards named after the states with squares and circles.
Logan Circle is one of only five L’Enfant circles in Washington DC that still exist today. The other four DC circles are: Washington, Thomas, Scott, and Dupont.
If you can find a parking place nearby, start your tour at One Logan Circle. Then slowly progress from house to house as you cross over the intersection at 13th Street, P Street, Rhode Island Avenue, and Vermont Avenue NW.
“Proof that neglect is often the handmaiden of preservation, this eight-block enclave presents scores of virtually unchanged Victorian and Richardsonian town houses.”AIA Guide To The Architecture of Washington, D.C.
You’ll want to pay close attention to such architectural details as the mansard roof, multi-level roofing, rusticated stone, arch doorways and windows, and elaborate ornament.
General Logan Statue
After your tour of the houses, cross the street to enter the park. The fountain in the once-named Iowa Circle was replaced by an equestrian statue. In 1930, the circle took his name.
A politician and Civil War Union general, John A. Logan (1826-1886) stands guard over the small green park in the center of Logan Circle. Logan was the founder of Memorial Day.
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House
One of the most prominent of the African American l residents who moved to Logan Circle was activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune. The Council House was the first home of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). It was also Bethune’s last home in Washington, DC.
Her residence is now a National Historic Site. The National Park Service offers free public tours of the house on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Old Korean Legation House
If time permits, book a tour at the Old Korean Legation House. “The Overseas Korean Cultural Foundation, an affiliate of the Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea, is dedicated to the study and protection of Korean cultural heritage worldwide,” according to Cultural Tourism DC.
The institution describes itself as “a cradle for the Korea-U.S. friendship born out of the dedicated diplomatic efforts of King Gojong (r. 1863–1907).” The Legation House also provided a window for absorbing modern cultural elements from the West.
“Today, the Old Korean Legation building is the sole example preserving its original appearance among the extant nineteenth-century diplomatic mission buildings in Washington D.C. and is highly valued for its historical significance.”Old Korean Legation in Washington DC
There is a lovely meditation garden located on the side of the Legation Building. The Victorian style museum features a library, banquet hall, and small garden. It is a contributing property to the Logan Circle Historic District and Greater Fourteenth Street Historic District.
The opening hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Advanced online reservation is required for entry.
Luther Place Memorial Church
Come visit Logan Circle. Feel yourself lost in the past, 20, 40, 60, 80, 100 years old. This is a DC neighborhood that developers did not destroy or knockdown. From the century-old churches and mansions to the historic National Park sites, Logan Circle represents living history.
“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”Martin Luther King
These words from MLK can be found on the exterior of Logan Circle’s Luther Place Memorial Church. It reminds us that we cannot move forward without looking back at our history, but we must always “march ahead.”
JuliAugust 20, 2022 at 8:29 am
Hi Terri, always love your posts to learn more about the unique neighborhoods DC has to offer. The architecture and history of Logan Circle is so intriguing. I’m helping my in-laws plan a DC trip–I can’t wait to tell them about this area. Thanks for sharing.
TerriAugust 20, 2022 at 11:44 am
Omg that is so exciting that your in-laws are visiting DC. Be sure to look up the Heritage Trails so they can explore DC’s unique neighborhoods. You should also book them a walking tour.
LinneaAugust 20, 2022 at 11:41 am
What a great post! I used to live in DC and this area is so special. Great recap!
TerriAugust 20, 2022 at 11:43 am
I love when people comment and tell me about living in DC. They always have such wonderful memories of the restaurants. DC is a walkable city. Thanks for commenting.
Valerie HansenAugust 20, 2022 at 12:13 pm
Wow what beautiful spots to explore…I need a trip to the east coast bad! 31 states and none of them are East Coast except Florida!
Great Post Terri!
TerriAugust 20, 2022 at 12:23 pm
Thank you! You need several trips to the East Coast yo explore different regions such as Mid Atlantic States (Washington DC), Southern Seaboard and New England.
StephanieAugust 20, 2022 at 12:40 pm
The Logan Circle neighbourhood is one after my own heart! I love wandering places like this with incredible architecture and beautiful buildings. I love that little church too! Definitely adding this area to my bucket list!
TerriAugust 20, 2022 at 4:34 pm
I hope you get to visit DC soon. We have so many different neighborhoods to explore. It is like a city within a city when you tour them.
BrittanyAugust 20, 2022 at 1:27 pm
I absolutely love looking at historic architecture when I travel! Maybe it’s because I don’t see enough of it in Phoenix… haha. Thanks for sharing this post. I’d love to check out the Logan Circle neighborhood the next time I’m in Washington DC!
TerriAugust 20, 2022 at 4:33 pm
Definitely plan on taking a walking tour of a DC neighborhood on your next visit. You will get a real architecture lesson.
AmyAugust 20, 2022 at 1:31 pm
Such a lovely neighborhood. I love the architecture. Quite a different experience than the usual Washington itinerary.
TerriAugust 20, 2022 at 4:33 pm
DC offers so many unique neighborhoods to explore. I also advise visitors to get off the National Mall at least one day and explore a neighborhood.
LinaAugust 20, 2022 at 4:38 pm
Oh, I love these old, historic Victorian-style houses so much! There are quite many in the old town neighborhood of Chicago. Would love to live in one of them. 🙂
Rachel - Rays of AdventureAugust 20, 2022 at 5:00 pm
This looks like a really interesting place to visit! The buildings look beautiful, and it’s great to see an idea for a different part of DC to visit.
AlannaAugust 20, 2022 at 7:52 pm
What a beautiful neighborhood! The self-guided tour sounds like the perfect way to learn and explore.
Jenn | By Land and SeaAugust 20, 2022 at 10:35 pm
I love learning more about these lovely D.C. neighborhoods! They are so unique from what we have back home.
TerriAugust 21, 2022 at 6:33 am
It is a treat for me to write about my city!
SharynAugust 20, 2022 at 11:17 pm
What fabulous buildings to discover. I love visiting places rich in history. This one is now on my list.
TerriAugust 21, 2022 at 6:32 am
The architecture of these 100-year-old houses will astound you.
BejalAugust 21, 2022 at 1:47 am
Another wonderful DC guide Terri. The history and the buildings are so beautiful. I’m always blown away by the neighbourhoods you feature. Fab post as always.
TerriAugust 21, 2022 at 6:31 am
We are so lucky to have so many preserved historic neighborhoods in DC. I hope you get to visit Logan Circle one day.
AnjaAugust 21, 2022 at 7:05 am
These mansions look wonderful. You are making DC very attractive ! We get “low cost” flights to the US from Berlin now, maybe time for a visit!
TerriAugust 22, 2022 at 5:40 am
You definitely should take advantage of the low fares and visit DC. Autumn is an ideal time. You could easily spend a week. I hope you get to visit.
CarrieAugust 21, 2022 at 8:58 am
Logan Circle was one of my old stomping grounds when I lived in DC – these photos bring back some nostalgia. I saw all the historical landmark signs but to be honest, never really read them – really interesting to learn more about the neighborhood from this post!
TerriAugust 22, 2022 at 5:42 am
Omg then you know how beautiful this neighborhood is Carrie! I honestly do feel like a time traveler to the 1870s when I walk around Logan Circle. I’d love to tour the interior of one of these mansions.
MichelleAugust 21, 2022 at 9:16 am
I love looking at historic homes and architecture when I travel. Thank you for introducing me to this DC neighborhood. It looks great!
TerriAugust 22, 2022 at 5:44 am
I hope you get to visit one day. DC offers so many examples of different architectural styles-Federal, Second Empire, Richardsonian, Mid-Century!
CarlaAugust 21, 2022 at 4:17 pm
Gorgeous pics, Terri, and 24 comments?!?!?! Your blog is doing amazing! So cool to see how it has grown!! My cousin lives right by here. I always park using SpotHero at the Washington Plaza Hotel. Usually around $7-10. I used to be able to fit my giant truck in there!!
TerriAugust 22, 2022 at 5:45 am
Thank you dear Carla! I love helping people discover DC’s cool neighborhoods. I still can’t believe I live here.
KPAugust 21, 2022 at 10:12 pm
Great post! I visited DC for the first time last year and when I go back, I’ll have to make sure to visit this neighborhood.
TerriAugust 22, 2022 at 5:46 am
Logan Circle is definitely worth a visit!
Anukrati DosiAugust 22, 2022 at 2:41 am
That’s a wonderful quote….worth remembering….we should always March ahead. Life goes on…no matter what
TerriAugust 22, 2022 at 5:49 am
So true. “Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
SarahAugust 22, 2022 at 11:34 am
Love your posts Terri! The architecture is stunning. You’re opening up my eyes to all kinds of things I haven’t heard of before! Imagine what those mansions were like in their heyday?
Catherine - Savvy Family TravelAugust 22, 2022 at 11:54 am
DC really brings US history to life. I can’t wait to show my kids the city and now you’ve given me more inspiration on neighborhoods to explore. Thanks Terri!
TerriAugust 23, 2022 at 7:36 pm
I really hope you get to bring your children to DC, both to see the National Monuments & Memorials, but also to walk the streets of DC’s amazing historic neighborhoods.
TerriAugust 23, 2022 at 7:34 pm
I too would love to go back and wander the halls of those mansions in the 1870s-1900s when they were constructed.
TishAugust 23, 2022 at 12:54 am
I love the architecture of Logan Circle!
TerriAugust 23, 2022 at 7:37 pm
Stunning right? I really want to go inside to see some of these historic homes if they offer the annual house tour this year.
KristaAugust 27, 2022 at 10:09 am
This looks like a really nice area to walk around. I didn’t get a chance to stop here last time I was in DC so I’ll make a note of it for next time!
TerriAugust 27, 2022 at 11:29 am
It is a great place to explore on foot!
tiffy roxxxSeptember 12, 2022 at 3:56 pm
Loved this, Logan circle is one of my favorite neighborhoods in DC. I truly just love strolling and taking in the homes!
TerriSeptember 12, 2022 at 4:06 pm
Logan Circle is a fantastic neighborhood to roam in DC. The historic mansions are beautiful to see.