Park View Year in Review: Part IV — Historic Preservation and Community Activism

This will be my final post wrapping up the major developments of 2012. In addition to private development, improvement of District properties, and growth in small business, it has also been a year with notable developments in historic preservation and community activism.

Historic Preservation

East elevation of the Park View School auditorium, detail from 1915 plan.

East elevation of the Park View School auditorium, detail from 1915 plan.

Prior to 2012, the only buildings in the immediate neighborhood that had official recognition as historic structures were the old 10th Precinct Police Station at 750 Park Road, the former Engine Company No. 24 (since moved and incorporated as the Metro chiller plant), and the former Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks (now Chez Billy). Of those, only 750 Park Road is officially in Park View. Recognizing that we do have buildings with historic merit in the community and, as development speeds up along Georgia Avenue, they have an increased risk of loss, I’ve been working through ANC 1A to evaluate and nominate properties when appropriate.

So far, the ANC has a record of 1 win and 1 loss. The nomination of the Park View School building easily passed both the ANC and Historic Preservation Review Board votes and is now on the DC Inventory of Historic Properties. The nomination of the former York Theater didn’t fare so well. With the current owner opposing the nomination on grounds of religious freedom, the Historic Preservation Review Board voted against the nomination with a split decision — despite a staff report from the Historic Preservation Office recommending support of the nomination.

To demystify the process and provide better guidance for future nominations, ANC 1A now has a report outlining the status of historic properties, historic districts, and African American Heritage Trail sites within the Commission’s boundaries. The report will be updated periodically and is intended to provide a basis for future conversations and work in the community that touch upon preservation issues.

Community Activism

Fourth of July at the AFRH.

Fourth of July at the AFRH.

No community progresses without and active citizenry, and 2012 has seen an increase in local activism. Among the more notable achievements this year are the continued development of the Friends of the Soldiers’ Home group, which is successfully partnering with the Armed Forced Retirement Home (AFRH) to not only provide support and volunteers for activities like BINGO, but has also been able to host events on the AFRH grounds. The two most notable events of 2012 were the Fourth of July and Oktoberfest. The Friends group also partnered in the annual cyclocross at the AFRH helping to make that a success.

To the south of the neighborhood near the Washington Hospitals Center, local residents also came together to create Wangari Gardens. Very much a grass roots movement, Wangari Gardens is now a community garden on a formerly large and underused piece of property. In addition to the gardens, new trees have been planted around its perimeter and the large site is a favorite of dog owners.

The corner of Irving and Georgia was graced with a new welcome sign on Monday, June 4th

The corner of Irving and Georgia was graced with a new welcome sign on Monday, June 4th

The residents of Irving Street were successful in replacing the old gateway sign on Georgia Avenue with a new and attractive addition to the community. This was a long slog on the part of the community and I give them a tremendous amout of credit for persevering to see that this came to pass. Even though they ultimately got ANC approval, the lack of support from outgoing ANC Commissioner Johnson created hurdles that otherwise would not have existed.

By the end of the year, the neighborhood also had a self-guided walking trail brochure available for those wanting to get to know the history and culture of the community better. Copies of the brochure are still being printed and distributed, so be on the look out for them if you haven’t found one.

Taking Notice

And … if you think all this activity went without notice in the greater community, you’d be mistaken. Many of these events were noted on area blogs (other than this one) and in the local press. Most notable was Urban Turf’s creation of a neighborhood profile for Park View this year. While profiles have existed for Columbia Heights and Petworth for a while now (and in some cases, profiles updated), this was Park View’s debut on Urban Turf.


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One Comment on “Park View Year in Review: Part IV — Historic Preservation and Community Activism”

  1. Hi, sometimes I get a 400 website error when I browse this site. I thought you may wish to know, cheers

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