The National Park Seminary District is a truly hidden gem, located just inside the Capital Beltway in Maryland. This district has a history that began in 1887 as a summer vacation retreat for Washington, D.C., residents. The retreat didn’t do well financially, so the property was sold and turned into a finishing school in 1894, with 48 female students in its first class. The campus has a diverse array of architecture styles, including Victorian, exotic designs, and small homes built from blueprints obtained by competing sororities. Architect Emily Elizabeth Holman designed all the buildings, and some of the unique designs included a Dutch windmill, a Swiss chalet, a Japanese pagoda, an Italian villa, and an English castle. The aesthetic is truly unlike almost anything else in the DMV region.
The National Park Seminary District closed down in 1942 due to World War II and was later used as a medical facility by the U.S. Army until 2004. Today it’s a mixed-use community of single-family homes, apartments, and condominiums. The historic buildings on the campus have been restored and beautifully preserved. It’s a popular destination for young professionals, families, and retirees, and there are various businesses, restaurants, and shops located there. Plus, the district provides easy access to Rock Creek Park and the National Arboretum, making it a great spot for outdoor activities.
The National Park Seminary District is a location for portrait photography and special events for several reasons. The architecture is beautiful and historic, offering diverse backdrops for portraits. The campus’s grounds are lush and green, surrounded by trees and gardens, making for a lovely natural setting for all sorts of portraits, not the least of which being wedding and bridal portraits. And, the more manicured parts of the property wind their way out toward much more rustic areas of interesting stonework and wooded pathways. The location is also strikingly convenient wherever you’re coming from
If you’re interested in hosting an event, the Grand Ballroom at National Park Seminary is an excellent event space. The Ballroom has high vaulted ceilings with heavy oak beams in true English Gothic style, with curved bays exhibiting French influence. It’s perfect for a range of public and private events, with a maximum capacity of 350 people. It’s also very reasonably priced at $500/hour with a 3-hour minimum, with outside catering and alcohol permitted. Plus, shorter times for specific uses can be discussed for varying rates.