Slowe-Burrill House – Washington, D.C. - Atlas Obscura

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Slowe-Burrill House

Home to two notable early-20th-century Black educators, Lucy Slowe and Mary Burrill.  


Lucy Diggs Slowe was born on July 4th, 1885. She was the first Black woman to serve as the Dean of Women at any American University. She was also one of the founders of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the first sorority founded by Black women. Slowe also earned the national title of the American Tennis Association’s first tournament in 1917 and became the first Black person to win a national title in any sport. 

Mary Powell Burrill was an educator and playwright who wrote plays about the Black experience and the Black elite that took a progressive stance on race and gender issues. She taught at Dunbar High School in Washington D.C. and directed plays and musicals at the school and throughout D.C.

In 1912, Burrill met Slowe while the two were teaching. Eventually, Slowe moved from Baltimore to D.C. In 1922, the two bought the house at 1256 Kearney St in the neighborhood of Brookland. They lived there together until Slowe’s death in 1937.

Burrill moved into an apartment near Howard University after Slowe’s passing and continued to work at Dunbar High School until her retirement in 1944. She then moved to New York City and lived out her final two years before her death in March of 1946.

Know Before You Go

The Slowe-Burrill House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2020.

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