History of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association

History of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association

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

When first organized in 1917, the association was named the Sixteenth Street Heights Citizens Association. The organization became the Shepherd Park Citizens Association in the 1940s This was done to avoid confusion with the Sixteenth Street Highlands area to the south.

The geographic boundaries of the Association are:

  • Georgia Avenue NW on the east;
  • The north side of Aspen Street NW on the south;
  • Rock Creek Park on the west; and
  • The DC-Maryland border on the north.

The boundaries correspond to Census Tract 16 and Voting Precinct 62. According to the 2000 census, the area includes 4,030 people and 1,635 households.

SPCA membership has never been limited by race, unlike other early citizens associations. This policy and the fact that the area’s streets are named for trees and flowers reflects the association’s unofficial motto, A Garden of Diversity.

The association's mission is to improve Shepherd Park’s quality of life. The association holds regular membership meetings during which members discuss issues such as schools, public safety, property, and the environment. SPCA often hosts candidate forums in advance of local elections. In recent years, the association has become known for its annual events: a community 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.

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; and supports a very active e-mail listserv with 1,300 members. 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.