Historic Move: Emerson Relocates to Thurgood Marshall Center
Over the course of more than 165 years, Emerson has called a number of locations home, and proudly enters a new era at the Thurgood Marshall Center. Emerson first opened at 914 14th Street Northwest Washington DC near Franklin Square between K and I Streets. In 1928, Emerson moved to 1740 P Street Northwest near Dupont Circle between Massachusetts and New Hampshire Avenues. In 1933, Emerson moved to 1525 16th Street Northwest near Stead Park between Q and Church Streets. In 1937, Emerson moved to 1324 18th Street Northwest near Dupont Circle between Massachusetts and Connecticut Avenues, a location which it occupied for 80 years, until the fall of 2017, when Emerson joined the distinguished organizations within the Thurgood Marshall Center, on 12th Street NW, a focal point for the vibrant Logan Circle community.
Now the Thurgood Marshall Center for Service and Heritage is breathing life into that historic building, designed by local African-American architect, William Sidney Pittman, where President Theodore Roosevelt laid the ceremonial cornerstone. Thurgood Marshall was a member of the YMCA and held Civil Rights planning meetings there. The building had housed a chapter of the NAACP, where Marshall was on the staff for 25 years, and was chief legal counsel, leading to the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. He later became one of the most distinguished and respected members of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Just as Emerson Institute was being established in 1852, Anthony Bowen, in 1853, began to hold meetings in his house, of the “Colored Young Men’s Christian Association”, which later became the Twelfth Street YMCA. The Thurgood Marshall Center(TMC) building was initially constructed to house that organization in 1908. The Twelfth Street YMCA provided support and opportunity for the black community of Shaw and Logan Circle during a period of inequality and violence for 70 years.
Other recent TMC residents include The Washington Literacy Center, National Newspaper Publishers Association, Critical Exposure, Inc., AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corp Washington, DC Chapter, Washington Chapter of Concerned Black Men, Columbia Heights & Shaw Family Support Collaborative, 21st Century School Fund, Project Re-Direct Passport Club, the IKG Cultural Resource Center, the Capital Area Reach Program.