Posted tagged ‘historic buildings’

Looking at Historic Ward 1 Buildings: Danzansky Funeral Home & the Former Washington Urban League Headquarters

June 24, 2016

Danzansky Funeral Home(3501-3503 14th Street, notable as a historic building and recognized on the African American Heritage Trail.)

As we move into summer and people are out and about, I thought it would be nice to point out some of the Ward 1 sites that are officially recognized as historic sites. While some are known to many, others are probably unfamiliar. I’m getting things started in Columbia Heights with the building at 3501-3503 14th Street, NW. It is notable both for its association with Danzansky Funeral Home and as the first headquarters that the Greater Washington Urban League owned themselves. Below are the short histories of each.

Danzansky Funeral Home (from D.C. List of Historic Sites description):

Bernard Danzansky, a former tailor and ice cream and stationery seller, established the first Jewish funeral parlor in the District of Columbia in 1912, meeting the needs of a growing population of Jewish residents of the city. In 1923, Danzansky moved the business 3501-3503 14th Street, following the migration of Jewish residents to the area. The Danzansky Funeral Home operated here for more than fifty years, as Danzansky became a central figure in Washington’s Jewish community. The establishment occupied the four-story corner rowhouse and its neighbor, which are part of trio of brick rowhouses built in 1910 by prominent developer Harry Wardman following designs by architect Albert Beers. In 1938, Danzansky customized the buildings by replacing the front porches with a Tudor Revival addition that expressed the business use and introduced a large corner entrance.

Greater Washington Urban League Headquarters (From African American Heritage Trail description):

The Greater Washington Urban  League purchased the former funeral home in 1977 as their first headquarters owned by them. They remained at 3501-3503 14th Street through 2004.

The Greater Washington Urban League Headquarters was founded in 1938 as the Washington Chapter of the National Urban League.

From 1956 until 1974, the Washington office was headed by Sterling Tucker, who left following his election to the first elected City Council of the 20th century. The nonprofit membership organization is devoted to civil rights and providing social services.

The National Urban League was founded in 1911 as the National League on Urban Conditions among Negroes. Two of the key founders were Ruth Standish Baldwin, the white widow of a railroad magnate, and George Edmund Haynes. The League’s board of directors has been interracial from its inception.

DC Preservation League Launches DC Historic Sites App

May 20, 2016

Earlier this week the DC Preservation League launched a new app that I think it pretty cool. It is called DC Historic Sites and it allows users to quickly get an idea of the historic properties that are located within their community. In addition to providing a map and allowing users to locate recognized historic properties throughout the city, it also includes pictures and text so that you can learn more about the sites.

According to the DC Preservation League’s announcement, the app is still a work in progress. Most notably, not all of DC’s historic landmarks have been included within the database yet. I’ve begun sending in text and photos of landmarks that I know aren’t on the map yet to assist with building it out and expect them to be added shortly.

Even in its current state, the app is really interesting and should be a great way for everyone to learn more about the architectural and cultural history of Washington.

To learn more about D.C.’s historic places and spaces, visit the DC Historic Sites site and download the app.

DC Historic Sites app(Screen shot of DC Historic Sites app showing Park View School listing.)

Update on Alsco/Linens of the Week Redevelopment on Lamont

April 13, 2016
Perspective of Alsco development from 2014

Perspective of Alsco development from 2014

Its been more than a year since I’ve shared anything about the redevelopment project headed for the old Alsco/Linens of the Week plant planned for Lamont Street (See August 2014 post here).

In reviewing the lists of both permit applications and approved permits between March 21 and April 8, 2016, things appear to finally be moving with this development. The records show the following so far:

  • 3/22/16 — 713 Lamont Street, NW. Permit application (review in progress) for Excavation Sheeting and Shoring (Section C below)
  • 3/23/16 — 713 Lamont Street, NW. Permit application (review in progress) for removal of one approximately 10,000-gallon heating oil underground storage tank (Section C below)
  • 3/30/16 — 735 Lamont Street, NW. Permit application (review in progress) for the conversion of an existing 4 story warehouse/commercial laundry in to a 76 unit apartment building, with one level of below grade utility space. The facade along Lamont Street and the floors and Structural frame of the building will be saved and reused.  The below grade utility space will be cast in place concrete, with the above grade apartment building will be metal stud framing with brick and fiber cement cladding infill on the existing concrete frame — This permit corresponds to Section B in the drawing below.
  • 3/30/16 — 724 Morton Street, NW. Permit issued for the removal of one approximately 10,000-gallon heating oil underground storage tank.
  • 4/7/16 — 785 Lamont Street, NW. Permit application (review in progress) for a new building (8 unit new construction, apartment building, with one level of below grade utility space and parking lot.  The below grade Utility Space will be in cast in place concrete, with the above grade apartment building will be wood framing with brick and fiber cement cladding) — This permit would be for the new construction labeled Section A below.

As a recap, the plan presented in 2014 is to redevelop the existing Lamont street properties in three sections. There is also the vacant lot facing Morton Street. The Lamont Street sections are illustrated below with descriptions following them.

Alsco south elevation

Section “A” is a surface parking lot for Alsco. This area would be developed to have a 3-story, 8-unit building along Lamont Street and include 14 parking spaces at the rear. The building would have a total of 9,600 sq. ft.

Section “B” is the 4-story building constructed in 1925. The plan is to create 76 living units in this building. No parking would be included in this section of the project. Areas would be cut out of the east and west facades to permit light into the new units. This structure would have around 68,784 sq. ft.

Section “C” is — in my opinion — the most interesting part of the development. It would have about 117,886 sq. ft. of space for 139 units. This is the oldest of the buildings, originally erected ca. 1920. The 1-story facade would be retained and restored and the original entrance would be returned to how it looked when the building was first completed providing a prominent entryway. The Lamont Street section would be developed into townhouse-like living units.

Morton Street Mews Project Nearing Completion

December 21, 2015

The Morton Street Mews development has entered its final stage of construction with work on the historic Pittman church structure now fully underway. Below are some photos showing that the formstone has been removed and the roof has been removed.



The structures on Sherman Avenue are also completed and currently open for prospective families. Below are photos of the completed Sherman Avenue houses and the two nearing completion on Morton Street.



Minor Proposal to Add Windows to the Tivoli Building

November 13, 2015

At last night’s meeting of ANC 1A, there was a brief presentation about a plan to add a few windows to the north side of the Tivoli Theater building, which is officially listed as a historic landmark. The additional windows in question are considered a minor change, so the Commission did not weigh in on it (the decision being within the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Office). However, I did want to comment as one of the goals of historic preservation is to ensure that buildings remain useful and relevant.

There was general consensus last night in support of the proposal. The proposed windows (if you can find them in the bottom image below), will be very difficult to see, are located on the red brick wall that abuts the former Ruby Tuesday location, and makes the interior of the building usable for a new tenant. These are all good things and we certainly wish all the best for those working to bring more business to the community.

Tivoli windows(Copy of proposal distributed to commissioners at the ANC 1A meeting)

Great Old Stereoview of the Old Soldiers’ Home

May 22, 2015

To ease into the holiday weekend on a lighter tone, here is a great old stereoview of the old Soldiers’ Home. Interestingly, it shows the original Scott Building with the third floor addition but before the mansard roof was added to the tower. I haven’t dug into the building’s history yet to pinpoint the date, but the image is early.

Soldiers' Home

Park View Field House Renovation Update

May 15, 2015


Based on a Department of General Services update issued on May 6, 2015, the Park View field house is moving along at a good pace and may even be a little ahead of schedule. The project currently has a budget of $439,390 and has the following project milestones.

Project Schedule Milestones
April 9, 2015 – KADCON mobilized to site
April 13 – Hazardous abatement began
April 17 – Hazardous abatement completed
April 24 – Roof construction began
April 27 – Demolition completed
May 22 – New roof to be complete
May 25 – New Walls to begin
May 29 – New windows to begin
June 8 – New ceilings to begin
June 15 – new finishes to begin
June 29 – New Millwork to be begin
July 31 – Substantial completion scheduled

In reviewing the project yesterday, the new roof has been completed, the porch is completely open now, the brickwork appears to be complete, and the old windows have been removed.

Much of the interior has also been gutted, thought the stairway up to the loft is to remain and be refinished. Below is an image showing the interior.

Park View field house(Stairway inside Park View field house May 14, 2015)

Architectural History of the Meridian Hill Baptist Church Building

December 29, 2014

3146 16th Street(The 16th Street elevation of the church, showing the design of Porter & Leckey.)

Recently I received a question asking what the church at 3146 16th Street originally looked like. Many will be familiar with this building as the Meridian Hill Baptist Church which was damaged by fire 2008. At the beginning of my research, I quickly learned that the building’s original building permit lists Speiden & Speiden as the architects, this being the last of their church designs in the District of Columbia. The complete list of their church buildings form the building permit database follows:

  • 150 S Street, NW (1904);
  • 3100 13th Street, NW (Friends Meeting House, 1905);
  • 841 Shepherd Street, NW (Primitive Baptist Church, 1911);
  • 557 Randolph Street, NW (Petworth Baptist Church, 1913);
  • 1019 Park Road, NW (Park Road Methodist Episcopal Church, 1914);
  • 700 I Street, NE (Centennial Baptist Church, 1914);
  • 3146 16th Street, NW (Mount Pleasant Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1916)

Speiden & Speiden, Architects, was a successful partnership between brothers William and Albert Speiden. Their practice was based in Washington, D.C., and they designed houses, churches, government buildings, apartment buildings, and movie theaters in the Washington metropolitan region. There was a great diversity of styles in the Speiden designs, ranging from large Colonial Revival houses to modest Craftsman bungalows, and from Gothic Revival churches to a stone hut weather observatory on the summit of Mt. Whitney in California. William Speiden died in 1914, but Albert Speiden continued to practice under the name Speiden & Speiden until his death in 1933. Albert Speiden, the younger of the two brothers, lived in Manassas, Virginia, and designed many of the historically significant buildings still standing in Old Town Manassas. He is acclaimed as the most prominent architect of the city of Manassas, honored by the extensive collection of his works archived at the city’s Manassas Museum.

The Mt. Pleasant M.E. Church as it appeared in 1916.

The Mt. Pleasant M.E. Church as it appeared in 1916.

While I wasn’t able to find the clearest image of the 1916 church building, I was able to find one that confirmed that the original church building looked quite different than the building does today. The original building was designed in the Gothic revival style and constructed of brick. It is perfectly in keeping with other designs by Speiden & Speiden and seems to be a good synthesis of their earlier church buildings.

In July 1927 a new auditorium was constructed in front of the original church. It was reported that the addition would bring to completion the original plan of the congregation. It is interesting to note that many of Washington’s church buildings were constructed in stages and that the architectural design of the original church could change as the building was enlarged (the church at 13th and Fairmont is a good example).

With the Mount Pleasant M.E. Church South, as plans were developed for a new auditorium at the front of the building, the original 1916 building was remodeled to meet the requirements of the congregation’s Sunday School work. As you walk past the building today you can see the walls of the original church behind the 1927 addition.

The new structure to the front of the church is a complete departure architecturally from the earlier effort. This is due to the congregation’s desire to have a more imposing building, and in their hiring of Porter & Leckey as the new architects to accomplish that. The structure that is familiar to people today was built of stone with a frontage of 80 feet. The design was described as one presenting massive dignity in harmony with the other important buildings that had been constructed on 16th Street between 1916 and 1927. Construction was completed in April 1928. As part of the dedication of the new sanctuary, the church changed its name to the Francis Asbury M.E. Church. It congregation continued to worship in this building until it became the new home of the Meridian Hill Baptist Church in the spring of 1970.

The building is currently in the process of being converted to Condos. Read more at The42.

3146 16th Street(If you look to the rear of the structure, you can see the original Speiden & Speiden section of the building.)


“Bad Weather No Bar to Breaking of Ground.” Evening Star, Jan. 2, 1916: p. 13.

“Church to Mark 22d Anniversary.” Evening Star, Jan. 1, 1938: p. A13.

“New Church Dedicated.” The Washington Post, Oct. 9, 1916: p. 7.

“New Francis Asbury M.E. Church.” Evening Star, April 7, 1928: p. 13.

“Plans Made for New Church.” The Washington Post, Oct. 24, 1915: p. B7.

“To Dedicate New Church Tomorrow.” Washington Times, Oct. 7, 1916: p. 7.

“Work to Begin on New Church.” Evening Star, July 9, 1927: p. 10.

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