New Book on Meridian Hill History Worth Checking Out

Posted August 27, 2014 by Kent
Categories: History

Tags: , , ,

Meridian Hill bookI’ve recently learned that there is a new book out this year on the history of Meridian Hill by Ward 1 resident Stephen R. McKevitt … titled appropriately: Meridian Hill: A History.

Unlike the Arcadia books that are primarily image based, this one, by the History Press, is text based (while it has some good images) which means it has a lot more detail. I’ve recently begun to read it and already appreciate how its organized and the historical overview of this part of Washington.

I decided to mention it here because it also has some interesting historical information for those who want to learn more about Columbia Heights. While that isn’t the focus of the book, it contains a historical sketch of James Holmead and a good history of Rock Creek Church Road (including the various names its had over the years).

Below is the publishers description to help you decide if this is something you’d like reading as well.

In the nineteenth century, Commodore David Porter built his mansion on a prominent hill sitting directly north of the White House, and the rest of Meridian Hill’s history is indelibly tied to the fabric of Washington. John Quincy Adams once resided in Porter’s mansion. Union troops used the estate and its lands during the Civil War. Later, part of the old estate was famously developed by Mary Henderson into a noted group of embassy mansions, and the extraordinary Meridian Hill Park was created. The rest of the land became a diverse, thriving residential neighborhood. Join local author Stephen McKevitt as he chronicles the fascinating story of this interesting urban locale in the nation’s capital.

Life: Street Art From 14th & Florida

Posted August 26, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Art

Tags: , ,

It has been a very long while since I’ve seen any decent street art in the area. Back around 2007 it seemed like it was everywhere … but today, not so much. That made the installation on the southeast corner of 14th Street and Florida all the more fun to take in when I encountered it about a week ago.

street art 14th florida

I especially enjoyed the message.

street art life

Development at 2920 Georgia Nearing Completion

Posted August 25, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Development, Housing

Tags: , , , ,

Having not posted an update on the development at 2920 Georgia Avenue since July 2013, I thought it was long overdue. As you see from the photos below, the building is quickly nearing completion. As reported by UrbanTurf in June 2012, this project, like 2910 Georgia Across the street, is by developer Art Linde and was designed to have 26 living units. I have been unable to find any information thus far on how the units will be marketed.

2920 Georgia(2920 Georgia from the southeast)

2920 Georgia(View of 2920 Georgia from the north east)

New School Boundaries Adopted by Mayor Gray

Posted August 22, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Schools

Tags: , , , ,

On August 21st, the Washington Post reported that Mayor Gray adopted the final recommendations on the new school boundaries and that they will go into effect for the 2015-2016 school year. It was announced before the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year complying with a law that families should have at least a year’s notice before any boundary changes go into effect.

The Post also reported that “[e]ach D.C. home now will be assigned to one elementary, middle and high school, a departure from the current patchwork system, in which more than a fifth of all public school students have rights to attend multiple schools, a result of school closings and consolidations.”

The easiest way to see what this means for the immediate Park View area is to look at the new boundaries of the Bruce-Monroe at Park View, Raymond, and Harriet Tubman Elementary Schools. It’s also important to know that both Bruce-Monroe @ Park View and Raymond will feed into MacFarland Middle School and Roosevelt High School, whereas Tubman will feed into Columbia Heights Middle School and Cardozo High School.

The following are excerpts from the map created by the Washington Post showing the new boundaries for each of those schools:

1) Bruce-Monroe at Park View (3560 Warder Street, NW)

Park View Elementary boundaries mapThe Bruce-Monroe at Park View attendance zone expands north to take in part of the old Clark zone and to relieve Barnard; it shrinks southwest and south, losing most of the former Bruce-Monroe zone. (Editors note: with the exception of the expanded zone in the north, the boundaries largely conform to the original boundaries of Park View Elementary).

Feeder information: Anyone living in the new attendance zone for Bruce-Monroe ES is zoned for and has a right to attend MacFarland MS and Roosevelt HS. MacFarland MS is slated to re-open no earlier than SY15-16. Until MacFarland MS re-opens, Bruce-Monroe will continue to feed into Columbia Heights Middle School and families will maintain the right to attend the middle school they are currently assigned to. Any student attending Bruce-Monroe out-of-attendance zone has the right to continue in the designated feeder pathway. Feeder pathway changes were made to better align school building capacity with population and with boundary participation rates, and to support racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, where possible.

Program feeder: Bruce-Monroe ES is a dual-language school. Bruce-Monroe’s 5th grade class will have a right to attend the dual-language program at MacFarland MS. MacFarland MS is slated to re-open no earlier than SY15-16.

2) Raymond Elementary School (915 Spring Road, NW)

Raymond Elementary School BoundariesRaymond’s attendance zone expands slightly north and south to increase walkability and relieve overcrowding at Tubman and Powell.

Feeder information: Anyone living in the new attendance zone for Raymond EC is zoned for and has rights to attend MacFarland MS and Roosevelt HS. MacFarland MS is slated to re-open no earlier than SY15-16. Until MacFarland MS re-opens, Raymond will remain an education campus serving middle grades and will continue to feed into Cardozo HS. Families will also maintain their right to attend the middle school they are currently assigned to, until MacFarlans opens. Any student attending Raymond out-of-attendance zone has the right to continue in the designated feeder pathway. Feeder pathway changes were made to better align school building capacity with population and with boundary participation rates, and to support racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, where possible.

3) Tubman Elementary School (3101 13th Street, NW)

Tubman Elementary boundariesRaymond’s attendance zone absorbs a part of the Tubman zone on the north. The Tubman zone expands east to absorb a part of the former Bruce-Monroe zone. It also expands south to absorb part of the former Meyer zone.

Feeder information: Anyone living in the new attendance zone for Tubman ES is zoned for and has a right to attend Columbia Heights MS and Cardozo HS. Any student attending the school out-of-attendance zone has the right to continue in the feeder pathway to Columbia Heights MS. Feeder pathway changes were made to better align school building capacity with population and with boundary participation rates, and to support racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, where possible.

1927 Watercolor of Sheridan Circle

Posted August 21, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Art

Tags: ,

Sheridan Circle

Several months ago I found this nice little watercolor painted in 1927 by Joseph Whitla Stinson. In the lower right corner its titled Sheridan Circle Wash. D.C.

Stinson appears to have been a very colorful person based upon what I’ve been able to find out about him. When he died at the age of 69 in 1954, he was described as an attorney, poet, and landscape artist with a “flair for sensational marital episodes and gaudy attire.” He was born in New York, where he studied architecture, civil engineering, and law at Columbia University.

He joined the State Department as an attorney in the Latin-American Division, a position he had moved on from by 1936. In a 1935 review of his work during an exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, it was stated that his work showed the influence of his master, Honorato Garlandi, noted Roman aquarellist and painter of the Roman Campagna, under whom he studied. Many of Stinson’s paintings showed scenes in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. In addition to exhibiting his work at the Corcoran, he also had exhibits in New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

However, at the time of his death, it was his marriages that were notably remarked upon, and which had kept him in the headlines for weeks in 1939 and again in 1945. In 1937 he married as his second wife a wealthy widow, Mrs. William Livingston Crounse, at Bar Harbor, Maine. After five weeks of bizarre District Court proceedings in 1939, she won and annulment after she charged that she wed him while under the influence of a hypnotic drug.

Stinson married again on January 2, 1945 — at the age of 60 — to 75 year old Miss Violet Biddle, a member of a noted Philadelphia family. Yet only a few weeks after the marriage, Stinton was being tried to determine his lunacy. Suffering from manic-depression, Stinton was found mentally ill by the District Commission on Mental Health on January 29th, only later to be declared of sound mind by a District Court jury after six hours of deliberation on March 16th. Stinton was initially arrested in January and held for observation after allegedly sending letters to Government and police officials and following a night trip to the White House in a taxi.

Planning Proposal Recommends Preservation of Family Rowhouse Neighborhoods

Posted August 20, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Office of Planning, Zoning

Tags: ,
Map of ANC 1A and 1B, showing areas currently zoned R-4.

Map of ANC 1A and 1B, showing areas currently zoned R-4.

Zoning, Pop-ups, and converting single-family houses to multiple-family dwellings is something that is very much in the news these days. On on side are many residents who see pop-ups and house conversions as both undesirable and destructive to both the character and livability of decades old single-family neighborhoods. One the other side are residents who believe that adding height, back of the house additions, and converting rowhouses to apartments and condos is the only real answer to ensuring that housing supply meets demand which helps keep housing affordable in a growing urban environment.

Currently, the Office of Planning (OP) has proposed changing  both the height and the number of allowable living units within the city’s residential rowhouse neighborhoods — Zoned R-4 (see map for areas Zoned R-4) — with the goal of maintaining the residential character of these neighborhoods (Read the full OP Proposal and Recommendation here). According to the Office of Planning, the R-4 Zone was intended to be a family residential area composed primarily of row dwellings when it was created. The type of development that generally cuts up these structures into multiple units tends to be at odds with the original intent of this zoning.

Key elements of OP’s proposal include, but are not limited to:

  • Change the R-4 by-right height for a detached, semi-detached, rowhouse, or flat building from 40 ft to 35 ft with an allowance up to 40 ft by special exception;
  • Include mezzanine in the number of stories;
  • Conversions:
    • Limit to non-residential buildings (i.e. schools, churches, fire stations) by special exception;
    • Allow conversions of residential buildings up to 3 or 4 units by special exception with units beyond 2 subject to affordability requirements.

On August 4th, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions 1A and 1B hosted a joint town hall so that OPs Jennifer Steingasser could present the proposal and answer community questions (See the slide deck from the presentation here).

Some interesting information that came out of the meeting is that areas zoned R-4 only comprises 15.6% of the District’s residential land areas. Areas zoned R-5, on the other hand, which supports apartments with no limits on the number of units, has a total land area of 29.8%. The full chart is below.

Residential Land Percentages

Another argument presented for preserving rowhouse neighborhoods introduced at the meeting was the need to preserve housing large enough to support families. This was described as housing with three or more bedrooms. According to OP, few if any new three+ bedroom units are included in new construction. As existing houses large enough for families are converted to apartments, it decreases the number of family units in the District and has been driving up demand and prices for the remaining family sized houses.

The last item on note that I’d like to draw out from the meeting is that the limit preventing  converting structures to apartments would not apply to church buildings, commercial structures, schools, firehouses, and other non-residential structures.

After the August 4th Town Hall, it was clear that there is a lot of community interest in this proposal, and that there are still many aspects of it which need to be carefully considered. Both ANC 1A and 1B and currently working to schedule a follow up meeting for the community for a Saturday in September.

Here’s How the ANC 1A Races Are Shaping Up

Posted August 19, 2014 by Kent
Categories: Elections, Government

Tags: , ,
Map of ANC 1A showing borders and locations of Single Member Districts (SMDs).

Map of ANC 1A showing borders and locations of Single Member Districts (SMDs).

I’m sure most folks aren’t really focused on the November 4th elections — and then if they are, they are probably more aware of the races for Mayor or Council. That said, there are other races that voters should be aware of an which I’ll write more about as we get closer to November.

For now, I wanted to let residents living in the area represented by Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A know what to expect in the next election.

The deadline for turning in nominating petitions has past, and the period in which to challenge those nominating petitions ended at the close of business yesterday, August 18, 2014. Presuming that all the candidates who turned in their petitions survived the challenge period (and I have no reason to believe anyone didn’t), the people running to represent their Single Member District’s (SMD) this fall will be the following. You can refer to the map above for an idea of where the SMDs are located, and I have listed the incumbents.

For SMD 1A01

  • 1A01 Lester Cuffie
  • 1A01 Marvin L. Johnson

For SMD 1A02

  • 1A02 Josue Salmeron

For SMD 1A03

  • No candidates stepped up. But, anyone interested in this seat can still run as a write-in candidate.

For SMD 1A04

  • 1A04 Lakew Alemu
  • 1A04 Matthew Goldschmidt
  • 1A04 Mark Ranneberger

For SMD 1A05

  • No candidates stepped up. But, anyone interested in this seat can still run as a write-in candidate.

For SMD 1A06

For SMD 1A07

  • 1A07 Darwain Frost

For SMD 1A08

For SMD 1A09

  • 1A09 Keith Dokho
  • 1A09 Bobby Holmes (Incumbent)

For SMD 1A10

For SMD 1A11

  • 1A11 Dotti Love Wade (Incumbent)

For SMD 1A12

  • 1A12 Colleen Costello
  • 1A12 Margaret Hundley

Among the aspects of this election cycle I find interesting are that the 2015-2016 Commission will be composed of 8- 9 new Commissioners which is a high percentage of turn over. I understand the ANC 1B races are similarly situated. I also find it interesting that the Single Member Districts where no one has shown interest so far are west of 14th Street and include the large apartment building over the Metro and DC USA. It is also good to see that several of the races are competitive this year, which should give voters an opportunity to choose from among the candidates.

I’ll post more about these candidates as we get close to November.

 

 


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