Modernization of York Theater Building Diminishing Historic Character of Structure
It was with horror that I discovered on Saturday that the Fisherman of Men Church‘s plans to repair and modernize the old York Theater building included removing the tin fascia that runs around the entire building. To be clear, everything is legal since they have a permit to do exactly what they are doing (issued on 6/24/11). However, I’m quite disgusted that anyone owning a building that is clearly more prominent than any other building in the area would not either dig into the building’s history or engage the community to inform them of their intent.
A representative of the church was on site and I asked them what they had done with the tin that had already been removed. The response was that it had been discarded and was gone. I informed the gentleman that the building was historic and his reply was that they intended to honor that by keeping the arches on the Georgia Avenue side of the building.
Sadly, replacing the discarded fascia will now be a costly undertaking. Repairing the existing fascia prior to the damage would not have been all that costly and may have even been less expensive than the work they are now doing.
While not landmarked, the York Theater building definitely needs to be before further damage can occur. It was built by Kennedy Brothers in 1919 using plans by architect Reginald W. Geare for Washington Theater king Harry M. Crandall. The York was Crandall’s eighth movie house in the city. All of the individuals involved in the creation of the York are noted in their own right and associated with other structures already protected by landmark status.
Landmarked buildings associated with Edgar S. Kennedy, the leading individual of Kennedy Brothers, include Meridian Mansions (the Envoy, 2400 16th Street, NW), the Kennedy-Warren, and many of the houses in the Mt. Pleasant Historic District.
Buildings designed by Reginald W. Geare that have landmark status include the Lincoln Theater (built 1921) and the Southern Aid Building/Dunbar Theater (built 1921). He is best known as the architect for the Knickerbocker Theater, which collapsed in January 1922 after a massive snow storm.
Harry M. Crandall was a pioneer in the movie industry, being among the first to own and operated a string of movie houses on a large-scale. Both the Lincoln Theater and Tivoli were among his many theaters. The York was completed two years before the Lincoln and five years before the Tivoli.Construction, History comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.