Door To Door: Glenarden, Md. And Foggy Bottom, D.C. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Door To Door: Glenarden, Md. And Foggy Bottom, D.C.

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Laurence Winston in Glenarden, Md.
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Laurence Winston in Glenarden, Md.

Glenarden, Md.


Not long ago, African Americans could only buy land and build homes in certain parts of the Washington, D.C. area. So back in the late 1940s, when 70-year-old Laurence Winston’s father wanted to move his family from Washington’s LeDroit Park neighborhood to suburban Maryland, he contacted the Freedmen’s bureau to find a place in Maryland where he could buy land and build a home. Glenarden was one of those places.

“My father lived in the LeDroit Park area, and he decided he would try to find a nice, safe place for him to raise his family. So he was checking with the Freedmen’s bureau at the time in D.C. and located a few locations in the suburban area that he thought might be interesting for him to raise his family, “ says Winston. “And in doing so he found that there were some codicils in terms of places where African Americans could buy. So he looked at a few different places, and the Glenarden area was the one that he selected.”

In 2014, many people may only vaguely recall the terms “Freedmen’s Bureau” and “codicil” from an era of segregation that faded away decades ago. Winston, though, has a clear understanding of these words.

“The term codicil applies to us in terms my father was trying to locate places for him to move… for him to buy to build to raise his family. And that’s basically the basis for him checking with the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Freedmen’s Bureau gave him locations that were available for the blacks to buy and/or build. So my father decided to purchase land and build and we are at that location now,” Winston explains.

Perhaps reflecting the unique history and evolution of Glenarden through the years, the architecture in this Prince George’s County community evokes several different eras and styles. Winston describes a neighborhood with a variety of home styles.

“Real modern homes, large homes, medium sized homes…just a good selection of homes that were I guess built… this house was built in 1950… you would find homes built, say, in the 70s or the 80s,” Winston says.

The architecture may vary, but one constant here is that residents value their relationships with local friends and neighbors. For Winston, part of Glenarden’s appeal is that the communities’ pioneering families remain close.

“I guess one of the main things I really like about Glenarden and living in Glenarden is the fact that there are still a few of us …the pioneering families of Glen Arden. The reason I bring up the pioneering families is because one of the things that we — I guess — I think cherish is the fact that we had a… family friendly relationship one to the other, and we continue to have that kind of relationship.”

Winston says a sense of history, place and community make Glenarden an ideal place to call home.

“I am proud of living in Glenarden and living in the house my father built, the history and the heritage of Glen Arden and all that we stand for.”

Foggy Bottom, D.C.


Dixie Woodard moved to Foggy Bottom in 2000 after 21 years overseas.

“Being a retired professor, I found my neighbors to be retired professors as well. So it was a mixture of retired professors and students and some young professionals — young people,” she says.

She says Foggy Bottom — just about a block from the Watergate and a couple of blocks from the Kennedy Center — is a historic district with “beautiful trees.”

“People take pride in their yard and sit on their steps and in their yards. So you know people up and down all the blocks. If I really needed something, I’ve got people I could call anytime – night or day.”

Even though Foggy Bottom is in the heart of the city, Woodard says it has very little crime.

“Both the GW police and the D.C. Police patrol the streets all the time,” she says.

“After all these years of living here we are so lucky that we found this place. I love Foggy Bottom.”

Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks

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