Charles Drew Lived Here

The "father of the blood bank" grew up in Arlington. And his legacy is lasting.

Since then, Drew’s descendants have gone on to become school superintendents, physicians, community activists, marine biologists, local union leaders, firefighters, counselors, Air Force pilots and teachers. His nephew Frederick Gregory was a NASA astronaut and the first African American to command a space shuttle flight (the mission STS-33 on board the space shuttle Discovery).

Meanwhile, the century-old house on First Street has remained in the family, the site of births, first days of school, family reunions, funerals, graduations, holiday dinners and weddings. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it still retains its original metal roof, and flowers on trees that were planted as far back as 1935 blossom every spring.

The residence is now home to the famed doctor’s grandniece, Cathleen Drew, who serves as education director for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Museum in Crystal City. She tied the knot with her husband, Wayne Botts, on the home’s east lawn in 1992.

“[My great-uncle] was a homegrown hero to the people [in Arlington],” Cathleen says. “I love the idea that…my kids are fifth-generation Drews.”

 

Charles Drew’s grandniece Cathleen Drew on her porch today. Photo by Michael Ventura

 

Journalist Matt Blitz has written for Washingtonian, Smithsonian Magazine, Food & Wine, Popular Mechanics and Atlas Obscura, and is head of the Atlas Obscura Society DC. He lives on Columbia Pike in the Penrose neighborhood with his soon-to-be wife, Caroline, and their cat, Reis.

Categories: Local History
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