Posted tagged ‘historic preservation’

Bloomingdale Civic Association Hosts Historic Preservation Panel Discussion Tonight

June 23, 2015

The Bloomingdale Civic Association is has organized a Historic Preservation Panel Discussion event for tonight at St. George’s Church (see flyer below). I’ll be there and expect this to be an interesting discussion. Others may want to check it out too.

For those who can’t attend, or would like to know more about this topic and how it relates to Park View, I’m also in the process of organizing a similar event in Park View in the coming weeks.

Historic Preservation Committee Mtg Flyer 6 16 15

Checking in on the Park View Field House Renovation

June 16, 2015

June Park View Field House(View of the field house from the southwest, showing new first floor windows.)

The renovation of the Park View Playground field house is coming along great. Anyone looking at the west elevation of the building will a good idea of what it will look like when work is completed, especially since the upper section has been painted and new windows have been installed.

Here are some completed/forecast project milestones for June:

  • June 10 – Gyp board was installed and prep for paint
  • June 12 – Exterior doors were installed
  • June 12 – Dormer windows on second floor installed
  • June 18 – Exterior paint will be complete
  • June 19 – Central air conditioning condensing unit will be installed
  • June 26 – New baseboard and flooring will be complete
  • July 6 – First floor windows will be installed

Below are two photos showing work in the loft area and the current state of the staircase.

20150603_113922_resized(New drywall in the loft area.)

IMG_0935a(The stripped stairway and new drywall in the east room.)

Admiring the Restored “A People Without Murals is a Demuralized People” Mural

April 7, 2015

If you’ve ever been on Adams Mill Road just north of Columbia Road and looked at the side of the Kogibow Bakery, you’ll have noticed the large mural on the side of the building titled “Un pueblo sin murales es un pueblo desmuralizado” (“A people without murals are a demuralized people.”). It was originally designed and executed in the mid-1970s by brothers Caco and Renato Salazar.  When the 2011 earthquake occurred, the owner of Kogibow Bakery had to repair structural damage externally which resulted in damage to the mural. You can see the extent of the damage before efforts began in April 2014 to restore the mural in an article from the CityPaper that provides more details about the project. There is also a WAMU feature from 2012 that is worth listening to, which also provides some history about the mural.

A People Without Murals is a Demuralized People

The photo above shows the mural as it looks today, after restoration. The plaque below accompanies the mural.

People without murals

Redevelopment of Park Road Church Property Gets Board of Zoning Adjustment Support

July 23, 2014

Perspective 1 625 Park Road(Rendering by Arcadia Design)

Yesterday, July 22nd, the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) considered the zoning variances requested to redevelop the former New Community Baptist Church property located at 625 Park Road while incorporating the historic church structure. After hearing testimony from the applicant, the Office of Planning (which opposed the relief), representatives from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A (supporting of the project), and residents the BZA voted unanimously to support the BZA application. This is a significant step forward for this development. Prior to the BZA hearing, ANC 1A voted unanimously at its July meeting to support the project. (You can read a related post on UrbanTurf).

The core issue related to this property has been to balance the competing needs of preserving the historic church with the desire to add density and more housing to the area. The plan as approved achieves this, as the new building along with adaptively reusing the former church will create a 38-unit development (the ANC had previously considered and supported a 41-unit project).

Since first presented to ANC 1A, the front of the building has been set back a few more feet, the third level is now in line with neighboring rowhouses, and the three units along Park Road will now have individual entrances facing the street. As the church structure is set back from the street, this also creates a grassy court that otherwise would not exist. (Those interested in watching the BZA hearing can do so at this link).

The redevelopment of 625 Park Road will significantly help revitalize that section of the community.

Perspective 2 625 Park Road(Rendering by Arcadia Design)

Update on 625 Park Road Project (Former New Commandment Baptist Church)

July 18, 2014

A lot has been happening on moving the redevelopment of the church property on Park Road along lately. Since the last time I posted about this in June, the Historic Preservation Review Board has considered the landmark nomination (staff report here) and voted unanimously to add the building to the inventory of historic structures at their June 26th meeting. In saving the building and adding it to the redevelopment mix, this triggered a request by the owner for some zoning variances, which ANC 1A considered at their July meeting and voted to support unanimously.

The next steps will be for the Board of Zoning Adjustment to consider the variance requests and the and the Historic Preservation Review Board to review the proposed design, both of which are scheduled for the week of July 21st. Should everything remain on track, the path will be clear for building permits to be issues and the project to move forward. When completed, the new building will include as many as 31 living units.

I’ll post a follow up after the BZA and HPRB meetings next week. You can review the overall plan being considered here.

Current Plans for Vacant Church Property at 625 Park Road

June 3, 2014

I know many in the Park View community have been wondering what is going on with the empty church property at 625 Park Road. I’m happy to present some information that will be coming before ANC1A for consideration on June 11th. In short, the plan is to incorporate the existing church into a new  condo project that has as many as 31 units. At least, that is what I come up with when reviewing the set of plans I got from the Board of Zoning Adjustment Web site.

625ParkRoadplans1(Rendering of new development from the south)

Based on the many conversations I’ve had with the property owner, I think there is a lot of merit to the current plan and it has come a long way from the original concept. It balances saving the historic church structure with a development that adds significant housing to the area in a feasible project. I also like that the large residential structure creates a courtyard on the west side (adjacent the the rowhouses), which helps keep the building from overwhelming the neighboring property while providing air and light to the units within.

The design also includes 9 off street parking spaces accessible from the alley. Lastly, by retaining the church structure, which is set back from the street, the property retains a green space which can accommodate a much needed tree. The church also makes a nice break architecturally from the residential row structures to the east  and the higher density structures that may some day be built along commercially zoned Georgia Avenue to the west.


Beyond the details of the actual project, what I like most is that the redevelopment of this site is finally making progress. This development will help enliven the 600 block of Park Road which, in turn, will help turn crime around in the immediate area. Now if we can just get the Park Morton project to the south moving we’ll be in good shape.

Former Hebrew Home HPRB Hearing Tomorrow — DGS Schedules Surplus Hearing

May 21, 2014
The Hebrew Home for the Aged, 1125 Spring Rd., NW.

The Hebrew Home for the Aged, 1125 Spring Rd., NW.

For those interested in the future of the former Hebrew Home for the Aged — located at 1125 Spring Road — the Historic Preservation Review Board will be considering the landmark nomination for the building tomorrow morning. It is a relatively straightforward nomination and I don’t expect it to be controversial. In evaluating the merits of the nomination, the Historic Preservation Office issued a favorable staff report in advance of the hearing.

In addition to the landmark aspect of the building, the DC Housing Authority is in the early stages of developing a plan that would convert the property into affordable housing with 60% AMI at the upper end. I’ve previously posted my notes from their presentation at the April ANC 1A meeting for anyone who wants to read up on that.

The District is moving forward with that process, as I’ve been notified by the Department of General Services (DGS) that there will be a public meeting on June 17th to discuss surplussing the property (see flyer below). In following up with DGS, they confirmed that they are intending to designate the building as “Surplus”, after which the building can go through a disposition process. This would allow the building to be developed as part of the public-private development with DCHA. It is important to note that this process will need to go before the DC Council for approval.

1125 Surplus Resolution

Small Preservation Win — Restoration of Historic Preservation Office Review of Charter School Projects in District Owned School Buildings

March 27, 2014
Cesar Chavez Prep's new gymnasium -- Kenyon Street facade.

Cesar Chavez Prep’s new gymnasium — Kenyon Street facade.

Often times at the Advisory Neighborhood Commission level, resolutions are passed but no one knows if anything comes of them or not. Well, last week witnessed a change in District Law that began as an ANC 1A resolution back on June 12, 2013. The issue was identified during the onset of construction for the new gymnasium at Cesar Chavez Prep School located at 770 Kenyon Street, NW. The gymnasium was designed as an addition to the 1898 Bruce School building. The building was considered to have historic merit — though not officially a landmark structure — and as such, everyone expected that the addition to the District owned property would be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Office. However, unknown to the school or the community, a recent interpretation of the District Preservation law had determined that the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act of 1978 did not apply to Charter Schools within District owned buildings because their construction projects were not considered to be “District of Columbia undertakings.” All-in-all, this interpretation seemed to be at odds with what was common practice prior to the interpretation and, for that matter, the whole reason for the District retaining ownership of the school properties to begin with.

With this in mind, I introduced a resolution urging that the DC Council revisit the law to ensure that construction projects involving District owned school properties in use by Charter Schools again be reviewed by the Historic Preservation Office in June 2013. The resolution was turned into a bill titled the “PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL HISTORIC PRESERVATION AMENDMENT ACT OF 2013″ and introduced on June 26, 2013. The first Council vote was on December 13, 2013, the final vote was on January 7, 2014, and Mayor Gray signed it on January 24, 2014. Law L20-0095 became effective on March 14, 2014. You can read a copy of the law’s language here.

Community Preservation Meeting Scheduled for Thursday, January 23rd

January 21, 2014

For residents interested in historic preservation or how preservation impacts new development, DC’s State Historic Preservation Officer, David Maloney, will be at the Park View Recreation Center (693 Otis Place, at Warder St.) on Thursday, January 23rd, to engaged with the community and help demystify the issue. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

It has been my experience while servicing on ANC 1A that residents do care about the architectural integrity of their communities. Often times, this is expressed during zoning variance applications when property owners are seeking to increase the capacity of existing structures. However, community comments frequently center on how the application will impact the aesthetics of the community, which is not an issue the Board of Zoning Adjustment considers when making their decision.

All area residents are welcome to attend this meeting, especially if you would like to know more about:

  • preservation’s role in new development;
  • conservation districts (a new idea being considered by the District);
  • historic districts (ANC 1A voted in support of the Meridian Hill Historic District in 2013);
  • historic landmarks and the landmarking process;
  • pop-ups; and
  • anything else of interest to the community.

I hope to see many of you there. Feel free to reach out to me if you can not attend but have a question you’d like presented.

Park View School(A view of the Park View School from the west. The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 1, 2013)

What the Old Hebrew Home for the Aged Might Have Looked Like

December 19, 2013

I’m in the beginning stages of researching the history of the old Hebrew Home for the Aged building, located at 1125 Spring Road (between 1oth and 13th streets). The building that is currently there was built in two phases. The western wing was completed in 1925 and had 35 rooms for residents. The larger portion of the building was completed in 1953 and increased capacity to 165 residents.

The former Hebrew Home for the Aged from the southeast.

The former Hebrew Home for the Aged from the southeast. The original wing is in the distance with the 1953 addition in the foreground.

One thing I’ve discovered in pulling together the history of the place, interestingly, is that the building was built in stages and never completed. There is still room for an easternmost wing that would have made the building’s Spring Road elevation symmetrical. It also owes much of its current appearance due to the nearly 30 year break between the first wing and the 1953 addition, which caused the 1924 plans to be altered.

From its beginning, the Spring Road Hebrew Home complex was conceptualized to have a residential wing, a hospital wing, and a synagogue. Funding was also an issue that caused construction delays and an approach to build the project in stages.

An early design from 1922 designed by architect Harry A. Brandt shows two large wings sited perpendicular to Spring Road. That design is shown below.

Hebrew Home design 1922(Architectural Sketch of design proposed by Harry A. Brandt, From Washington Times-Herald, December 3, 1922, p. 5.)

Yet, Brandt’s design for a retirement home and hospital may have been too grand when compared to fund-raising efforts. By 1924, when work on the complex finally began both the design and architect had changed. Building permits show that the new architect of the building was Appleton P. Clark, Jr. In looking at the design as reworked, it is clear that Clark added a flair to the design by incorporating Moorish elements. Clark also designed a complex that could be built in stages. The west wing was built in 1924-1925. The eastern hospital wing was planned to follow but delayed due to financial issues. The central, grand synagogue was not built. Below is the design as envision by Clark.

(Architectural Sketch of Appleton P. Clark, Jr.’s design, From The Evening Star, June 14, 1924, p. 16.)

In looking at Clark’s design, it is easy to see that the western wing of his design closely resembles the original 1925 Hebrew Home structure. Deviation from Clark’s design when construction began again in 1953 was likely due to the Home’s need for more capacity than that anticipated in 1924.

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