A legacy of Campbells owning property & investing in their community has been passed down for generations.

Ad in the Washington Herald offered "reliable" Black buyers homes, leading Campbell's grandparents to Walter Street residence.

December 25th 2023.

A legacy of Campbells owning property & investing in their community has been passed down for generations.
The Campbell family from Washington D.C. has built a legacy of owning properties and holding onto them for generations. Their story was recently profiled by the New York Times when Christine Campbell and her two brothers became the first Black proprietors of a bed and breakfast inn in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

This feat of owning property is an impressive accomplishment, especially when taking into account the historic discrimination Black people have faced in regards to housing. This reality has not stopped the Campbells from continuing their legacy. Christine Campbell pointed to her great-grandfather's will which stipulated that the Maryland property in the family should stay in the family as long as any of his children were alive.

Christine Campbell noted that her family's journey to D.C. was marked by a migration of sorts from Southern Maryland, with families tending to settle in certain areas of the city. Her family initially settled near the Capitol and Supreme Court, where her grandparents found an ad in the Washington Herald that promised homes available to "reliable" Black buyers.

The Campbells paid $4,000 for the home and found a congenial and personable neighborhood. Campbell's father, Plater, was one of the last people left in the neighborhood. In 1952, Plater's parents bought a house two blocks away, but continued to keep the Walter Street home to rent out to relatives and friends. The Campbells eventually owned four homes in D.C.

Plater married Joan Cross, a mathematician, followed by a job as a soil scientist with the US Department of Agriculture and eventually becoming a member of the Senior Executive Service. The family moved around often due to Plater's work, but never sold the Walter Street home. The home was eventually passed down to Plater and Joan and later to their son Stephen.

The pandemic led the Campbell siblings to explore the idea of owning a bed and breakfast. After taking a class on running a B&B, and hiring a consultant, the Campbells purchased the Keystone Inn for $745,000 and spent an additional $400,000 renovating it.

Data on Black-owned B&B's is hard to come by, but most estimates place the number at around 1%. The Campbells' Lincoln Park residence saw gains in property value as more white people moved into the neighborhood. A 1937 Federal Housing Authority map showed that the residence was 63% surrounded by Black residents, while a Brookings Institute study found homes in Black neighborhoods are valued at about half the value of homes in residential areas with no Black residents.

The Campbells' success stands as an inspiring example in a climate of historic discrimination against Black homebuyers and sellers. Through their determination and hard work, they have continued to build their legacy of property ownership and have made their mark on history.

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