Refresh of Petworth’s Chez Billy Hardly Refreshing

Back at the end of July 2016, Petworth’s Chez Billy closed to “refresh the decor” and launch a new “concept.” Now, four months since, it appears that we have a clue as to what a refresh of the decor actually means. I was very disappointed to see that the exterior of the building is being painted an interesting shade of green with the covering or removal of the handsome Tudor elements.

former-chez-billy(Transformation of Petworth’s former Chez Billy at 3815 Georgia Avenue, NW)

Personal tastes aside, the transformation of the exterior is particularly disappointing as the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 (read nomination here) due to the site’s association with Billy Simpson’s House of Seafood and Steaks — which was historically significant for playing a notable role in the social and political culture of the District of Columbia’s African American community. The restaurant was frequented by many notable people in politics and government, and the owner, William W. “Billy” Simpson, was an avid supporter of civil rights and anti-war causes.

When the building was renovated for Chez Billy, the exterior was tastefully restored to be in keeping with the site’s history. Now it appears that all that will remain will be a plaque alerting passers-by that the building  is on the African American Heritage Trail with a brief paragraph of explanation.

The photo below shows what the building looked like before the refresh.

Chez Billy's

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7 Comments on “Refresh of Petworth’s Chez Billy Hardly Refreshing”

  1. Fritz Says:

    Now it looks like ever other liquor store on Georgia Ave.

  2. Diane Says:

    I agree with your assessment, Kent. Quite a downgrade from the way it looked before the ugly green paint.

  3. anon Says:

    i thought because of its historic designation it could not do this. I am mistaken?

  4. K Says:

    Agree with you Kent. Pretty sad that this is the ‘improvement’. I’m not well versed in the preservation area but is this allowed under the historical designation? If so, perhaps that needs to be looked at more closely.

  5. A Says:

    I actually like it. As long as a facade is well kept and not falling apart, I support it. Too many crumbling and vacant buildings on Georgia as it is! I really miss Chez Billy, but think this concept will be more strongly supported by the neighborhood.

  6. Angry Parakeet Says:

    Why? WHY?? would this be done?

  7. rider Says:

    I’m less angry about this than the fact the DC tree exterminators are continually cutting down perfectly good trees.


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