Visiting Washington’s Oldest Synagogue

Posted December 19, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Architecture, Historic Landmarks, Preservation

oldest synagogue(The Adas Israel synagogue at 3rd and G streets, NW)

For those that may have missed this, Washington’s oldest synagogue — the Adas Israel synagogue — will need to be moved to make way for the new development downtown that will deck over the 395 Center Leg Freeway that is adjacent to the building and separates it from the Georgetown Law School. The synagogue was originaly built at 6th and G in 1876 and was moved in 1969 to save it from demolition. The  Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington (JHSGW) arranged to have the building hoisted on to dollies and relocated to its present location.

Synagogue interior showing the ark area.

Synagogue interior showing the ark area.

I was fortunate to have the JHSGW, and in particular curator Zachary Paul Levine, invite me to tour the synagogue prior to its move and was thrilled to accept the offer. One of the things I was most fascinated in learning was that they JHSGW has been undergoing a paint analysis for portions of the interior to learn what the original colors were for the interior. One of the things that they’ve learned is that the beveled corners of the posts holding up the balconies were originally gold leaf.

Related to this, I received the following as part of a larger announcement from the JHSGW that gives more insight into their work with paint analysis.

Was our ark once adorned with gold leaf?

We’re looking for 24-carat gold leaf beneath layers of paint in D.C.’s oldest synagogue building.

Can you help us raise $1,800 to complete this project? 

An 1876 newspaper account noted that a biblical quotation (Ma Tovu) was painted over the ark: “How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!”

We’ve painted this passage in gold-colored paint during our restoration work, but its original appearance is buried beneath more than a century of paint.

We recently completed a historic paint analysis of the sanctuary, funded in part by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Marpat Foundation. While this research yielded a picture of the sanctuary’s original appearance, further study is needed to solve this mystery.

This holiday season, give the gift of gold online or call 202-789-0900.

The synagogue is a wonderful building that I hope everyone has had an opportunity to experience in person.

The movie below relates the building’s history.

Great 1920 Photo of Playground Tree Planting

Posted December 18, 2014 by Kent
Categories: History

Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Hollow

Here’s a great photo that dates to April 15, 1920, showing a tree planting at the Happy Hollow playground. Today the playground is known as Marie Reed. The tree planting was part of “Be Kind to Animals” week and planted in memory of the horses and carrier pigeons which gave their lives in World War I. As you can see in the photo, many of the children dressed in costumes with animal themes.

The following day, April 16, 1920, the District of Columbia celebrated Arbor Day by planting sixty-one American linden trees in the city. Excluding the trees in Rock Creek Park, the District estimated it had a total of 104,061 trees growing in Washington’s parks after the Arbor Day tree plantings.

District Bicycles Street Art

Posted December 17, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Art

Tags: ,

I found the following street art on the Irving Street side of Morgan’s Seafood. I’m sure  it will bring a smile to all the bicycle advocates we have in the District.


Former Murray’s Ripe for Development

Posted December 16, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Development

Tags: , ,

3400 Georgia(Property at 3400 Georgia Avenue, former Murray’s grocery store)

If you’ve been along Georgia Avenue lately you’ve probably noticed that the Murray’s grocery store closed at the end of November. It is currently empty and the vacant parking lot has been fenced in to help discourage loitering and illicit activity.

While its been a long time coming, the property at 3400 Georgia Avenue is a large parcel and most likely headed for development — as shared in May 2012 by the City Paper. I’ll be sure to share details once they are known.

The building was originally built in 1941 and opened as an A&P Super Market.

New Flexipave Sidewalks Beginning to Be Installed

Posted December 15, 2014 by Kent
Categories: DDOT, Streets and Trees


On November 12th, I posted that DDOT’s Urban Forestry Administration was planning to repair sidewalks that have been damaged by street trees at locations citywide with Flexipave. Flexipave is designed to reduce the damage to sidewalks by tree roots, and to provide the additional environmental benefits of allowing rainwater to infiltrate into the tree space.

Over the weekend I saw my first example of Flexipave on the 600 block of Princeton Place. Overall I liked it an am very interested in seeing how it holds up to the elements. Other approaches DDOT has previously used to provide a flexible sidewalk over tree roots have not lived up to their promise.

IMG_7718[1](Flexipave on the 600 block of Princeton Place, NW)

“Glitch” Sends Out Expired Visitor Parking Passes

Posted December 11, 2014 by Kent
Categories: parking

Tags: ,

visitor parking passes(Expired DDOT Visitor Parking Pass receive on December 11, 1014)

District residents have begun to receive their new Visitor Parking Passes only to discover, upon inspection, that the pass mailed out is the 2014 pass, already expired. Even the accompanying letter states that the period covered by the pass is from October 1, 2013 to September 30, 2014.

Upon contacting DDOT, it was learned that DDOT is “working with the contractor right now to see where the glitch was, and to correct it as soon as possible.” DDOT currently has no estimate for how long it will be before new passes will be mailed out, or if last year’s passes were mailed to all residents or only a portion of them. DDOT also stated that they “will figure it out and do whatever it takes to fix the situation.”

UPDATE: It appears that residents who registered for a new VPP before the system was set up for 2015 passes received another 2014 pass. Again, according to DDOT: “There were two batches of 2014 passes [though the number is yet unknown] that were recently mailed.  Those individuals / applications will be converted to 2015 passes, and those will be mailed (per the contractor) next week.  If your pass is in this batch, you will receive a 2105 pass.”

DC Circulator 10 Year Plan Includes Crosstown Route Through Park View

Posted December 11, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Bus service

Tags: ,

H/T to New Columbia Heights for alerting me to this.

In reviewing the DC Circulator 10 year development plan, I was happy to see that it includes a Tenleytown to Brookland route in its Phase II (2016-2018). The proposed route would connect several key activity centers currently disconnected from the Metrorail network and also provide the east/west route that I know is desperately needed for our area.  The route, according to the map below, would traverse Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, connect with the Georgia Avenue Metro, and then travel through the Washington Hospitals Center.

Below is the information sheet for the relevant route from the full 10 year plan.

Tenleytown to Brookland


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