By Claire Prudhomme
The Brookland neighborhood is a place like much of D.C. is full of landmarks and history that are unknown at first glance. A lot of Brookland’s key landmarks are listed in the official list of nationally recognized historic places worthy of preservation by the National Register of Historic Places. Some of these places being the Newton Theater, Brooks Mansion, and the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.
One of the places not listed on the National Register of Historic Places is Fort Bunker Hill. Fort Bunker Hill was a Civil War Fort named after the Revolutionary fortification located at Bunker Hill, Massachusetts. This civil war fort is walking distance from campus, only a mile away. According to the National Park Service, Fort Bunker Hill occupied a position between Fort Totten and Fort Lincoln with thirteen guns and mortars. Fort Bunker Hill may not be listed on the National Register of Historic places as there is little evidence that Fort Bunker Hill is still visible today as it was abandoned in 1862.
Close to Fort Bunker Hill is what used to be the Newton Theater. The theater is now used as a CVS/Pharmacy, but before its time as a pharmacy, it was a popular classic movie theater. The building was designed by architect John J. Zink, and is an accurate representation of Art Deco/Art Moderne design. It opened in July 1937 and was used as a movie house until 1979, it then was used as a rock concert venue until the mid-1980s before it was closed and converted to a pharmacy.
Brooks Mansion was another key site around the Brookland area until it was demolished in 1970 to be used as a parking lot for the Brookland-CUA Metro Station.
The parking lot is now used as the center for DCTV. Brooks Mansion was part of a small plantation before the civil war and most of it was destroyed by Union soldiers during the war. It was the quintessential example of Greek Revival Architecture in the late 1830s.
According to the National Park Service Archives, in 1891 the Marist Society purchased the mansion in an attempt to create an administrative center for a local university. The Benedictine sisters purchased the mansion in 1905 as a school of the Benedictine parish until 1970.
The Franciscan Monastery was originally planned by Reverend Charles A. Vassani to be on Staten Island as a Holy Sepulchre. His dream was to bring the Holy Land to the United States for people who were not able to travel abroad. The building has been run by the Order of St.Francis of Assisi and is in the architectural style of Byzantine and Romanesque. The monastery hosts beautiful gardens and realistic replicas of shrines from the Holy Land and other places around the world. This church is a very popular place for pilgrimage and worship for visitors of D.C. At a small pilgrimage across Michigan Avenue, the Franciscan monastery is an exceptionally beautiful place to visit.