One of Washington’s most historically rich neighborhoods, Logan Circle has seen much change. During the Civil War, it became known as an executioner’s square, where spies and deserters were hanged. At the turn of the 20th century, it became the social and artistic center for African Americans in Washington. Today, Logan Circle is an arts, entertainment and dining destination that has retained much of its historic charm. Here’s a list of the top 10 things to do and see between its streets.
During the Civil War, Logan Circle Park was the site of a refugee camp for freed slaves from Virginia and Maryland. Today, the site’s history is marked by an equestrian statue of John A. Logan: a Union Army general during the war; he later served as a U.S. Senator. Come to admire the imposing 25-foot monument, complete with two reliefs depicting events from Logan’s life. It was dedicated by President William WcKinley in 1901. On a nice day, bring a book and grab a spot on one of the park’s many benches.
Specializing in contemporary theatre productions, Studio Theatre is housed in a former auto showroom and has four intimate performance spaces – none of which seat more than 225 patrons at any one time. Variety magazine described Studio Theatre as a place ‘where local audiences will find today’s edgiest playwrights’ and during the course of its 36 year history, it has earned 60 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in professional theatre.
Gallery Plan B is a venue where established and emerging artists display and sell their latest work. The casual gallery space includes a mix of artwork that appeals to a diverse audience. Visit the gallery to check out a show, whether you are interested in painting, photography, drawing, or sculpture. And if something really catches your eye, you can always choose to buy!
Enjoy an authentic French dining experience at Le Diplomate, which has quickly become one of Washington’s top restaurants since opening in 2013. The joint has a spacious sidewalk seating area that recreates the atmosphere of a café in Paris. Here you can savor French delicacies such as country duck terrine, steak frites and escargot.
After the Civil War, Logan Circle became one of Washington’s most appealing residential neighborhoods. Developers built a number of grand houses in the Gothic Victorian, Second Empire and Romanesque Revival styles. Admirers of architecture and design will enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood’s streets to take in the interesting details of these homes, like the grand bay windows and the wrought-iron banisters.
This Victorian town house was the residence of Mary McLeod Bethune, who founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. Bethune was one of the country’s most influential black women and in this house, she received heads of state, government officials and leaders from all around the world. Today the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial Museum and the National Archives for Black Women’s History are located here.
The Black Cat has been one of the best places to listen to live, independent music in DC since it opened in 1993. A venue for local and national performers alike, Black Cat has two stages, a bar and a café. Many notable performers have played here, including Arcade Fire, The White Stripes, Foo Fighters and Modest Mouse, amongst many others.
Wind down and relax with a glass of wine at Cork Restaurant & Wine Bar, which offers at least 50 different wines by the glass and 160 bottles from small producers from all around the globe. Discover and learn about new wines during one of the bi-monthly wine tastings, or order a small plate of cheese or charcuterie to pair with a wine of choice.
For the past 36 years, the Logan Circle Community Association has hosted an annual house tour that takes guests through some of the neighborhood’s most awe-inspiring homes. Though the exact date isn’t regular, the tour typically takes place in December. In the past, musicians and singers have been posted at many of the homes to encourage guests to get into the holiday spirit.
History buffs will enjoy the Logan Circle Heritage Trail, a series of 15 signs scattered throughout the neighborhood that provide information about the area’s social and cultural heritage. This 1.5-mile walk is the best way to appreciate Logan Circle’s dynamic history, from its beginnings as open farmland to its status today as one of DC’s most vibrant arts and entertainment districts.