History of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association

History of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association

Shepherd Park was founded in the 19th century when the District's territorial governor, Alexander "Boss" Shepherd, built a summer mansion there. Since then, it has grown into a neighborhood of more than 4,000 residents that celebrates its diversity and friendliness.

When first organized in 1917, the citizens association for the area was named the Sixteenth Street Heights Citizens Association. The organization became known as the Shepherd Park Citizens Association in the 1940s, in order to avoid confusion with the Sixteenth Street Highlands area just to the south.

The current SPCA membership boundaries cover the area in Northwest DC between Georgia Avenue and Rock Creek Park and bounded by Eastern Avenue on the north and Aspen Street on the south, encompassing the neighborhoods of Shepherd Park, Colonial Village, and North Portal Estates. The boundaries correspond to Census Tract 16 and Voting Precinct 62; according to the 2000 census, this area includes 4,030 people and 1,635 households.

SPCA membership has never been limited by race, unlike other early citizens associations. This beginning and the area’s streets that are named after trees and flowers is reflected in the association’s unofficial motto, “A Garden of Diversity.

The association's mission is to improve the quality of life for Shepherd Park residents. The association holds regular membership meetings at which issues of local interest, such as the schools, public safety, property, and the environment are discussed. The SPCA also hosts candidate forums in advance of local elections. In recent years, the association has become know for the special events it sponsors annually: the picnic, yard sale, potluck dinner, garden tour, and Halloween parade.

The SPCA supports its neighborhood public elementary school, Shepherd Elementary School, and the Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library. The SPCA also works collaboratively with the area’s Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, the Ward 4 Councilmember, and the Fourth District of the Metropolitan Police Department. SPCA’s Orange Hat groups patrol the neighborhood periodically as weather permits.

To keep neighbors informed, the SPCA maintains a website, www.shepherdpark.org; publishes a quarterly newsletter, the Shepherd Park News, which is mailed to all residents and business neighbors; sponsors a very active e-mail listserv with 1,300 members; and writes a weekly column in the Northwest Current newspaper. The SPCA encourages support of neighborhood businesses through profiles in the Shepherd Park News and various seasonal activities.

Shepherd Park was a featured community in the WETA Neighborhoods video series on TV 26. The director of those segments, Walter Gottlieb grew up in Shepherd Park; he also produced a 30-minute video entitled "Shepherd Park: Past and Present, a celebration of one of Washington, DC's most unique neighborhoods."