Historic Photo of General Oliver Otis Howard House ca. 1870

The Oliver Otis Howard house ca. 1870. From the author's collection.

The Oliver Otis Howard house ca. 1870s. From the author’s collection.

Recently I was fortunate enough to find a carte de visite of General Oliver Otis Howard’s house probably taken in the early 1870s. This house has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974.

According to the National Park Service’s Web site:

The General Oliver Otis Howard House … [was] constructed between 1867 and 1869, it was the home of Major General Oliver Otis Howard, the founder of [Howard University] and its first President from 1869 to 1873. The house still retains many of its decorative elements such as the high mansard roof, elaborate dormer windows, tower, and decorative iron balustrades. The Board of Howard University was able, through General Howard, to purchase a one-acre lot including a frame building to begin operation of the school. The Howard House was among the first buildings constructed. Although the Trustees voted to give General Howard a lot upon which to build a residence, he instead purchased the lot for $1,000.

In 1909, when the University began to expand, the Howard House was purchased. The house has had varied uses over the past century. For example, between 1936–1942, the Howard House was the home of Miss Lulu V. Childers, and served as the Conservatory of Music which she directed. From 1967 to 1972, the African Language Center and African Studies Department were located there. The building presently is used for conferences and special events.

While the house still exists with a high degree of integrity, its setting has certainly changed over the years. The sweeping lawn and surrounding structures are long gone, with the house surrounded by university buildings to the north and south and a parking lot to the west (which is located at a much lower grade than the original sloping hill. Below is a familiar view today from the southwest.

Howard Hall in 2013.

Howard Hall in 2013.

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2 Comments on “Historic Photo of General Oliver Otis Howard House ca. 1870”

  1. Dianne Says:

    @Kent – thanks for sharing this! It is so amazing that this house is still there and is owned by the University. There a grand painting of O.O. Howard in the Founders Library on campus. it is an impressive painting and great tribute to the General.


  2. […] of the building, you can see General Oliver Otis Howard’s house in the background. I’ve previously posted a photograph from the same period of that building as […]


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