CUA is part of the Brookland neighborhood, which dates to the 19th century when the Brooks family built a mansion in what was then untouched woods. The 1883 Civil Service Reform Act brought an influx of politicians and other professional to the District of Columbia, many of whom found homesites in "the country"-- Brookland. After Catholic University was established in 1887 the area experienced growth through the establishment of religious communities and construction of faculty houses and residences. The number of religious houses gave Brookland a new nickname: "Little Rome," with the church bells calling clerics and religious to prayer throughout the day bringing a new stability and cohesiveness to the neighborhood.
Saved through community pressure from destruction by a proposed major highway in the 1960s, today Brookland is as diverse in its population as in its mix of house styles. The community remains dynamic and thriving, with small businesses along 12th St., a new community center, and seasonal neighborhood events such as the Brookland House and Garden Tour (which included Caldwell Hall on CUA's campus in 2006) and the Brookland Farmers Market. Nearby haunts such as Ellis Island and Col. Brooks' Tavern are among the places where "town and gown" gather to share the past and look forward to the future.