Misplaced Park View: The Georgia Theater

Façade of the Georgia Theater from original blueprints. Image courtesy of Peter Sefton.

Despite efforts to save the historic Georgia Theater for posterity — and a signed agreement with a developer to retain and rebuild its façade — it has been absent from Georgia Avenue since 2007.

The Georgia Theater was built in 1912 and at the time it was dismantled was Washington’s oldest surviving theater after the Minnehaha, which today houses Ben’s Chili Bowl. It was designed by B. Frank Myers and was part of a one story brick strip that contained three stores and the theater valued at $7,000 to build.

In October 1917 it was renamed Park View, but soon afterward became a store and eventually an auto repair shop.

Former Georgia Theater shortly before it was demolished. Image courtesy of Peter Sefton.

In 2005, the D.C. Preservation League (DCPL) Landmarks committee was advised that the theater building had been sold, but that its historic features would be incorporated into a condominium project. Yet, in 2007 a demolition permit application had been filed. At that point the Georgia had seen better days. A truck had rebounded from a collision earlier that spring damaging the corner of the building and causing the developer to opt for demolition rather that incorporating the theater into the project.

3422 Georgia Avenue today

DCPL negotiated an agreement in 2007 with the developer to “carefully dismantle the façade of the building and move it to a secure location for storage during construction. Before dismantling, it [was to] be documented through measured drawings and/or photographs sufficient to accurately reconstruct it. Elements of the façade to be restored for reinstallation include[d] the sign; the brick piers, front wall, and parapet; and the metal frieze, cornice, coping and all decorative elements. In addition, the missing finials, seen in the original permit drawings [were to] be reinstalled in cast stone or a similar material. All materials removed [were to] be repaired and reused, not replaced.”

As 2010 began the new structure appeared to be complete with the exception of the façade … which begs the question: Should the community fight to have this historically significant façade returned to Georgia Avenue? Its certainly something I feel strongly about getting back.


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12 Comments on “Misplaced Park View: The Georgia Theater”

  1. Patrick Says:

    What a cool façade! I hope they can bring it back somewhere.

  2. Shawn Says:

    I also hope they can bring it back. Why is that condo building so ugly? Was it built cheaply? I guess it just kind of sticks out. It would fit in in the Florida ave and V st area.

  3. JM Says:

    Meh… While the current condo is not attractive, it would look positively bizarre to have the 1920’s facade stuck on the front. Also, I have to say I don’t find the old facade to be that exciting or architecturally distinctive. Given all the things we could be campaigning for, I don’t think we need to spend the energy or political capital on this issue.

  4. IMGoph Says:

    i only voted no because i can’t see what the point would be at this point. but good god, that building is horrible. with that curb cut? this could be one of the worst versions of bad-urbanism i’ve ever seen in the city. ugh.

  5. Kent Says:

    As a follow up question, if the facade could be incorporated into the front of a new, nearby project, would that be acceptable?

    • IMGoph Says:

      kent: it would be interesting, sure, but at this point, since the historical building itself, and it’s spot on the street, are gone, i’m not sure i see the point anymore.

      • Kent Says:

        I mentioned the option because that’s what happened to Engine Co. 24 when it was razed to make way for Metro. In some ways, I guess the point would be to retain as much character of the street as possible. With so much historical loss, it just seems criminal to allow what little remains to be destroyed as well.

  6. IMGoph Says:

    (guess wordpress won’t let you reply to a reply of a reply…)

    anyway, i wasn’t aware of that. it actually sounds like a decent idea now.

    (doesn’t change my opinion that that building is vile, though!)

  7. I have the name of the developer somewhere. I will find and put out there in space. He has a Greek last name. I remember being in a meeting over on North Capitol Street after looking up the original “city plats” in the Washingtoniana room of MLK. The guy said, being Greek, he knew a “little about history.”.

    It is sad to see the city’s history disappear before our eyes.

    In the summer of 2006 my friend and I wrote and produced a play about the 70 bus at MLK Library. It would have been great to see this theatre become a neighborhood arts or cultural learning center, but cash rules everything around us.

    Thanks for this! I am re-posting at http://thewashingtonsyndicate.wordpress.com/

  8. […] Syndicate saw this post at Park View DC and got pissed off, man. We understand capitalism rules, but at what expense do devalue our […]

  9. […] intersection of Georgia and Princeton, there could be a sign dedicated to the York Theater & Georgia Theater. It could also focus on movies in general and mention other movie locations along Georgia […]

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