Friends Place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., will begin hosting groups in January 2022 following nearly $2 million in renovations, and will no longer be accommodating individual hostel guests.
“I really view this renovation as an act of stewardship,” says Sarah Johnson, the new director of Friends Place, “preserving a historic building and Quaker guesthouse on Capitol Hill and continuing its long-held commitment to hospitality, justice, and peace.”
Friends Place on Capitol Hill is a Quaker learning center and guesthouse five blocks away from the U.S. Capitol. It provides meeting space, overnight group accommodations for up to 29 guests, and civic education and engagement opportunities. The repairs and modernization of the building were funded by the Friends Committee on National Legislation Education Fund (FCNL Education Fund), a nonprofit sister organization of FCNL that does not engage in lobbying.
Renovated Friends Place on Capitol Hill. Photos by Eric Bond.
When the FCNL Education Fund assumed control of the property in 2019, it was known as William Penn House. The name of the property was changed with approval of the Friends Place Board of Directors in recognition that William Penn enslaved people. Friends Place will operate as a separate nonprofit organization.
“Renaming the building is a way of reckoning with our country’s history, our Religious Society’s history, and our personal histories,” said FCNL General Secretary Diane Randall.
As the new director of Friends Place, Johnson will offer hospitality and facilitate civic engagement programming for visiting groups, including connecting them to education and advocacy opportunities with FCNL.
“Our goal is to connect groups to ongoing issues nationally and in their home communities,” she says. “We want the time they spend learning in D.C. to impact their growth as active citizens and the ways they are engaged in their communities.”
Previously Johnson served as the director of the Steinbruck Center, a Lutheran service-learning ministry also located in D.C. Other staff may be added as groups begin arriving in 2022.