The Neighborhood Design Center provided interior design direction and project management support to help the Town of North Brentwood complete the project at Sis’s.
NDC volunteers engaged with community members to create a vibrant design for the space. Staff worked with the Town to put an RFQ out for local artists to complete the mural, originally designed by an NDC volunteer, and supported in the identification and selection of interior painters. This work was deeply rooted in the history and traditions of North Brentwood and was successful in helping the town recreate a beloved central gathering space.
Just two miles northwest of Bladensburg, MD, the Town of North Brentwood stands as a testament to the resilience and self-sufficiency of Black communities. As Prince George’s County’s first incorporated African-American town, North Brentwood has a unique history that the community is actively designing to preserve.
“This wasn’t the best land,” says Town Manager Jackie Goodall, noting that the land that North Brentwood sits on where Black people were allowed to own property was once known as the Bottoms. “But this was a place they made home and we want to ensure that nobody forgets it.”
Among the many projects, Goodall is helping to support is the restoration of Sis’s Tavern, which has served as a tavern, grocery store, barbershop, and music hall and has been an important community anchor through all of its iterations.
Sis’s began as a juke joint where greats like Pearl Bailey and Duke Ellington would stop after playing gigs in Washington, D.C. that they would have to leave immediately following due to segregation. “Sis’s was one of the first places where Black entertainers that left D.C. could stop,” says Goodall.
To help bring the Tavern back to life and restore its importance for current residents, we worked with the community to design a scheme that elevates Sis’s Tavern to the fresh, vibrant venue it once was, while paying homage to Sis’s and North Brentwood’s history.
In order to create a more equitable future, we believe we have to preserve spaces that represent Black history and culture.