Lafayette Park is one of the finest assets of our wonderful Chevy Chase-DC neighborhood, and the Friends of Lafayette Park (FOLP), which was founded in 1999, is an organization of neighbors dedicated to preserving and improving the park. Over the nearly two decades of volunteer work, the FOLP has implemented the addition of gardens (particularly on the park’s perimeter), playgrounds, the former tot lot, amphitheater, gazebo, upgraded tennis courts and ball fields, and added benches, picnic tables and much more. After the city’s renovation of the park in 2015, the FOLP plans to work with the city to maintain the park’s improvements and address future needs. In the future the FOLP hopes to add such improvements as a running track, better lighting, and a renovated recreational center. The FOLP, through volunteers, also maintains all the beautiful gardens inside and surrounding the park (on Quesada and 33rd Streets and Broad Branch Road). The city does not maintain the gardens, and the extent of the work and costs are rising. Please join your neighbors as we maintain these improvements and add more. You can help by giving us your thoughts and ideas for the park, attending our spring and fall clean-up days and contributing funds to our effort.
Lafayette Park is located in Northwest Washington DC, in Ward 4. The park is nine acres and is run by the Department of Parks and Recreation. It shares the site with Lafayette Elementary School, part of the DC Public School System. The site is framed by the following streets, Quesada, Broad Branch, 33rd, and Northampton on the south side of the park. The park is open daily to the public and closed after dark.
In 1928, 12 acres of rolling parkland were purchased by the District of Columbia to build Lafayette School. The area is roughly bounded by Broad Branch Road, Northampton, 33rd, and Quesada Streets. According to treasured remembrances of local residents summarized by Sharon Moran in Origins II published by Neighborhood Planning Council #2 and #3 in 1976, some of the land was a farm owned by the late Mr. Horace Jones.
His original 1859 farmhouse still stands on Quesada Street. Behind the house the Jones cattle grazed in the area where today children play on up-to-date swings and slides. Most of the land for the school, however, was purchased from the African-American owners of several small houses near Broad Branch Road and Oliver Street. Those houses were torn down to make way for the first school, which was a collapsible frame building. When the brick school was built and opened in 1931, residents remember the land around the school was woods, a barn and some houses on 33rd Street, a farm-like setting that delighted the children.
During WWII, victory gardens were part of the landscape, taking advantage of the sunny south side. Today the parkland is Lafayette Park, a Chevy Chase community resource with tennis courts, playgrounds, paths, flowers and shady places to sit. The Friends of Lafayette Park observed its 10th anniversary in 2009.