Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Walk the halls of Cedar Hill, home of the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

Born into slavery, Douglass escaped to spend his life fighting for justice and equality for all people. His tireless struggle, brilliant words, and inclusive vision of humanity continue to inspire and sustain people today.

The Douglass site covers 8.5 acres known as Cedar Hill and includes the main house, gardens, and an extensive collection of personal effects that both captivates visitors and educates them about Douglass and his family. Douglass moved to Cedar Hill in 1877 and lived there for 18 years. During that time, he served as U.S. Minister to Haiti and as U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia, continuing all the while to write about and speak out for human rights and equality until his death on February 20, 1895.

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Image Credit: Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Hours


Historic House
The historic house is open only at scheduled times for guided tours. Rangers guide tours every day, except for January 1, Thanksgiving, and December 25. Reservations are strongly encouraged.


Visitor Center and Grounds
The visitor center and grounds are open daily, except for January 1, Thanksgiving, and December 25. Hours vary by season:

April through October - 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
November through March - 9:00 am to 4:30 pm

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)

Fees

There is no entrance fee. If you make reservations to tour the historic house, there is a fee of $1.50 for each reserved ticket or a flat fee of $5.00 for school groups.

Activities

The only way to get inside Frederick Douglass's historic house is to be on a guided tour. Rangers guide interpretive tours of the house every day at the scheduled times listed below. Tours cover the first and second floors of the house, and they last about 30 minutes. Tickets must be picked up at the visitor center before the tour time.

Investigate the grounds- Run up and down the hill, take in the sweeping view of downtown Washington (we think its the best in town), look at the trees, or have a picnic (just take that trash with you). 

Explore the Visitor Center- Pick up Tickets, study exhibits, watch Fighter for Freedom (a seventeen minute movie about Douglass' life), or visit the book store.

Accessibility

The Douglass Home sits atop Cedar Hill. The home is reachable by taking 85 stairs or by using a long ramp. 

The first floor of the home is wheelchair accessible (after traveling up the ramp from the bottom of the hill).

The second floor is only attainable by ascending a flight of stairs. Staff will provide a photo tour of the second floor for any visitors unable to reach it.

With staff permission it is possible for personal vehicles to drop a visitor off at the top of Cedar Hill. Please enquire in the visitor center before driving up. No vehicles larger than a 15 passenger van will be granted access.

The visitor center (at the bottom of the hill) is accessible and the 17-minute film "Frederick Douglass: Fighter for Freedom" is closed captioned as well as having both assisted and descriptive listening devices (maximum four devices available at one time).

If you would like a sign language interpreter for your tour please notify two weeks in advance.

History

Frederick Douglass was born on a plantation on the Eastern Shore of Maryland around 1818. He died 77 years later in his home at Cedar Hill, high above Washington, DC. In his journey from captive slave to internationally renowned activist, Douglass changed how Americans thought about race, slavery, and American democracy. Since the early 1800s Douglass' life has been a source of inspiration and hope for millions. He has also been an ever present challenge, demanding that American citizens live up to their highest ideals and make the United States a land of

Douglass began his life on a plantation belonging to Edward Lloyd in February, 1818. He was named Frederick Bailey after his mother, though he only met her three or four times in his life. After being sent to live with one of his owner's relatives in Baltimore, Maryland around the age of eight, Douglass was mistakenly taught the first several letters of the alphabet. Those few letters opened a new world to him and began his lifelong love of language.

After escaping from slavery Douglass changed his name to avoid being recaptured and turned his efforts to helping those still held in bondage. Douglass travelled around Massachusetts speaking about his experiences with slavery and the need to destroy it. One of the most prominent abolitionists in America, William Lloyd Garrison heard Douglass and invited him to join the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Douglass was soon touring across the country speaking against slavery and becoming one of the country's finest orators.

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Last updated: March 05, 2018
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