Yarrow Mamout: African American History on Dent Place


The property at 3324 Dent Place NW was the home – and possibly the final resting spot – of Yarrow Mamout (c. 1736–1823). Enslaved in West Africa and brought to America as a young man of 16, Yarrow (his surname) was freed at age 60 and chose to stay in Georgetown for the rest of his life. He was a master businessman and investor. The home he built on Dent Place is no longer standing, but the property still exists and could hold valuable historical clues relating to Georgetown’s racial history.

At the March 2 meeting of the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission 2E, a unanimous resolution called for “conducting a thorough archeological survey at 3324 Dent Place NW in search of evidence of the life and times of Yarrow Mamout.” The resolution came in response to a request by a developer to build townhouses on the site.

In a determined and strong request, the commissioners resolved: “We urge the D.C. Historic Preservation Office to request that the Historic Preservation Review Board recognize the property at 3324 Dent Place NW as a property likely to possess archeological significance and determine that a thorough survey, including excavation as appropriate, be conducted before any building permit is issued at this location.”

Whether the lot at 3324 Dent Place contains artifacts or the remains of Yarrow Mamout himself is an open question. Some have speculated that his remains may still be there in a corner of the property where he once prayed.

After being declared vacant, the dilapidated house on the Dent Place property was struck by a falling tree in August 2011, crushing its second floor. In November 2013, the house was razed and the land cleared.

James H. Johnston’s 2012 book “From Slave Ship to Harvard: Yarrow Mamout and the History of an African American Family,” uses paintings, photographs, books, diaries, court records, legal documents and oral histories to reconstruct a six-generation family history from Yarrow to Robert Turner Ford, Harvard College, Class of 1927.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *