Logan Circle is primarily a residential neighborhood north of the White House and east of Dupont Circle. Much like Dupont Circle, Logan Circle is centered around its namesake traffic circle, one of the circles laid out in L’Enfant’s original city plan. The Logan Circle neighborhood contains few sights, but is rich in history and is a wonderful spot to mingle with real Washingtonians living their lives. The area has no Metro stops within its borders, but there are several that surround the relatively small neighborhood. McPherson Square Metro station (Orange, Blue, Silver) is to the south, Mt Vernon Square (Green, Yellow) is to the east, and Shaw-Howard U (Green, Yellow) is to the northeast.
Let’s start our look at Logan Circle by visiting another circle: Thomas Circle at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue, Vermont Avenue, M Street, and 14th Street NW. Thomas Circle is about 3 blocks north on 14th St from the McPherson Square Metro station and represents the southern border of the Logan Circle neighborhood.
Thomas Circle is named for the Civil War General George Thomas, whose statue graces its center. In the 1860s, Logan Circle featured a horse-drawn railway that led the middle and upper class residents downtown further north into Logan Circle. Today it is a simple, small, urban, green space. Standing in Thomas Circle, however, you can’t help but notice the two towering steeples jutting into the skyline to the north.
The most noticeable from Thomas Circle is the neoclassical National City Christian Church at 5 Thomas Circle NW. The building was designed be the same architectural firm as the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and National Archives which seems obvious once you know. President Lyndon Johnson worshipped here and this was the site of his state funeral in 1973. Turning slightly to the right brings the Luther Place Memorial Church into full view. Completed in 1873, the gothic revival church features a bronze statue of Martin Luther that was dedicated in 1884.
Further north at 1318 Vermont Ave is the former home of Mary McLeod Bethune and the current site of the Memorial Museum in her honor. Mary McLeod Bethune was a civil rights leader and educator who founded the National Council of Negro Women in 1935. This house was the headquarters for that vital council throughout her life, developing programs to further the causes of African American women and the community as a whole. The house is open 7 days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, with the last guided tour at 4:00 pm.
Walking a short block north brings us finally to the neighborhood’s center, Logan Circle. This large traffic circle is the only one in the city that is fully surrounded by residences, giving it a very homey feel. It is not uncommon to see neighbors enjoying the grass in the middle of the circle, around the 25 foot tall statue of John A. Logan, who was a Civil War commander, congressman, and resident of 4 Logan Circle.
During that Civil War, however, Logan Circle was a much different place. It was then known as Camp Barker, a refugee camp. Following the war, and with the addition of the horse-drawn railway that traveled up from Thomas Circle, Logan Circle became a very fashionable address until the wealthy began to migrate west to Dupont Circle in the late 19th Century. Unlike many of the houses in Dupont Circle, the three and four story Victorian and Richardsonian townhouses of Logan Circle persevered and most still stand today.
Some of the houses around Logan Circle are quite impressive, such as Nos. 1 and 2 on the southwest side, which is a Second Empire-style double house built around 1880. Moving clockwise you will see numbers 4-14, which are representative of the cohesive, yet wildly different, styles of the time. The variant rooflines, mixed materials, and irregular level of detail make for a charming scene.