Langston Terrace Dwellings: Animal Sculptures – Washington DC

Project type: Art Works, Sculptures
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Langston Terrace Dwellings, opened in 1938, was the first U.S. Government-funded public housing project in Washington and the second in the nation.  Initial funding came from the Public Works Administration (PWA); later the U.S. Housing Authority stepped in to complete the job.

The International Style complex was designed by African-American architect Hilyard Robinson, a native Washingtonian. It embodies Robinson’s belief in the ability of fine buildings and art to inspire and uplift residents.

Langston Terrace is well known for its artworks.  

Five large animal sculptures by Hugh Collins, Lenore Thomas and Joe Goethe double as climbing structures in the children’s playground.

The Washington Post reported on the installation of the sculptures in 1940:

“Five huge animal sculptures by WPA artists are nearing completion on the children’s playground at the Langston Housing Project. Children are already clambering on and off the spacious backs of a giant frog, hippopotamus and a horse. Within two weeks a walrus and another horse will be put in place. These sculptures will complete the handsome decoration of this playground, which was begun with the installation several years ago of Dan Olney’s fine terra cotta figures done in relief around the north entrance. Commissions for the execution of these sculptures were awarded last year to Hugh Collins, Lenore Thomas and Joe Goethe, as a result of a competition held among artists employed by the District Art Unit of the WPA.”

Source notes

"Langston Terrace Dwellings, " National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, National Park Service, 1986-1987 (accessed January 29, 2020).

Kelly Anne Quinn, "Making Modern Homes: A History of Langston Terrace Dwellings, A New Deal Housing Program in Washington, D.C.," dissertation, University of Maryland College Park, 2007, pp. 154-156 (accessed January 29, 2020).

“WPA artists completing Langston sculptures,” Washington Post, September 1, 1940, p. A7

"Historic D.C. Housing Project Marks 75 Years," WAMU 88.5 FM, February 22, 2013

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - on November 30, 2019.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

21 Street and Benning Road NE
Washington, DC 20002

Coordinates: 38.8996, -76.9732

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