Endangered Places

Endangered Places

Beginning in 1996, the DC Preservation League has announced annually a list of Most Endangered Places to draw attention to Washington, DC’s, historically, culturally and architecturally significant places that may be threatened with ill-advised alteration or demolition through neglect or abandonment.

DCPL solicits nominations for its annual list from individuals and organizations throughout the city. DCPL’s landmarks committee evaluates the nominations and advises the Board of Trustees on their inclusion on the list. In many cases, a task force is created to raise awareness and develop possible preservation solutions for the endangered resource.

2003 Most Endangered Places

Old Engine Company 6

OWNER: DC City Government

HISTORY
Constructed c.1855, Old Engine Company 6 was the city’s first volunteer firehouse to be acquired by the city when, immediately after the Civil War, the various fire departments were consolidated as a single city agency. One hundred years later, the fire department vacated the building and several years after that it was transferred to the Office of Property Management. OPM then leased it to a variety of non-profit organizations, none of which regarded the building for its historic significance nor sought to repair it.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
Most recently, the firehouse has been leased to a developer for use as an on-site construction office. The current use is causing enormous wear and tear on the building with no maintenance or repairs being made

DCPL’S RESPONSE
DCPL, working with other preservation organizations, has asked the city to

Do immediate stabilization on the building;
Issue a request for proposals for either the sale or lease of the building for a compatible use;
Transfer the property with covenants that would insure its maintenance and repair, as well as its return to the city if not used as stated in the transfer documents.

Rutherford B. Hayes School

Representative of DC Historic Public Schools
5th & K Streets, NE

Owner: DC City Government

HISTORY
Built in 1897 by architect Charles E. Burden, the Hayes School is one of the earliest documented examples of a District public school building designed by an architect in private practice under a new policy initiative of 1896-97. The new policy represented a break from common practice of the 1880s and 1890s, when the District public schools were designed in variations of the Romanesque Revival style and all were products of the Building Inspector’s Office staff. School buildings of the period 1896 to 1910 were designed in the Classical and Renaissance Revival and the Italianate styles. Many were designed by Washington architects in private practice under contract with the Building Inspector’s Office, later the Municipal Architect’s Office. The District Commissioners instigated this change in the interest of improving the esthetic quality of school buildings.

The Hayes School was named in honor of the 19th President of the United State and was intended for white students. In 1947, in response to changes in the neighborhood, the school was transferred to the black school divisions.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
Currently the DC Office of Aging has plans to convert the building into a Senior Wellness Center and offices. Proposed additions are not sensitive to the historic building. Leaving the building vacant allows for other problems such as neglect and vandalism.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
DCPL has testified before City Council about historic properties that are currently owned by DCPS.

911-919 New Jersey Ave, SE

Representative of Washington Row Houses

Owner: Private

HISTORY
The row house is Washington’s quintessential building type, being the earliest type of non-governmental building erected in the nation’s capital and continuing to be built today. The bulk of the city’s housing stock is composed of two, three, and four story brick attached and semi-detached building, in styles ranging from Federal and Italianate to eclectic Victorian, Colonial Revival and Modernistic. These buildings are present in almost every District neighborhood.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
Because of the economic conditions and population shifts that occurred in the second half of the twentieth century, many of these row houses now stand empty and deteriorating. Many others have been modernized with inappropriate materials as their original elements decayed, resulting in widespread loss of historic integrity.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
The Row House Task Force was created in 2002 to raise public awareness of the significance of historic row houses. In September 2002 the Task Force initiated Row House Month, with activities intended to instill pride in D.C.’s predominant housing type and encourage sensitive but functional renovation of aging and deteriorating row houses. Increasingly the only affordable housing available on the market is run down. The Row House Task Force aims to empower people to buy and rehab existing row houses by educating them about the historic value of older homes, materials used to renovate them, and the city’s regulations. Recently, representatives from the Row House Task Force joined others in Baltimore and Philadelphia to discuss regional concerns and possible solutions.

Carter Woodson House
1538 9th Street, NW

Owner: Association for the Study of African American Life and History

HISTORY
In 1915, Carter G. Woodson (1875-1950), a Harvard-trained historian and DC Public Schools teacher, founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History. In 1922, he moved his operations to 1538 9th Street, NW, living and working in that row house until his death. In the intervening years, Woodson successfully established Black history as an academic discipline and fought to counter the commonly held belief that African Americans had made little or no contribution to the development of the American nation. In 1926, Woodson established Negro History Week (now Black History Month). This row house is where it all began. Although the Association for the Study of African American Life and History still owns the house, it moved out in 1971.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
Empty for over a decade, the house where the father of African American history worked for 38 years has been left derelict, with homeless people squatting inside, broken windows, and interior damage caused by roof leaks.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
The National Park Service has completed a special resources study to determine alternatives for the possible development of the home as a National Historic Site under NPS stewardship, and DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton has introduced a bill that would authorize NPS to acquire the house. DCPL is working with a number of groups including the National Trust and the building’s owners to help develop long-term solutions for the stabilization and rehabilitation of the important African American heritage site.

Woodlawn Cemetery
4611 Benning Road, SE

Owner: Woodlawn Cemetery Association

HISTORY
Designated on the DC Inventory of Historic Places and the National Register of Historic Sites, Woodlawn Cemetery was established in 1895 by several individuals associated with Graceland Cemetery (founded in 1872 and located near the inter of Benning Road and H Street NE). The initial interments at Woodlawn consisted primarily of over 6,000 re-interments from Graceland made from 1895 to 1898; as at Graceland, blacks and whites were placed in adjoining graves. Subsequent interments included many prominent African-Americans, among them Blanche K. Bruce, born a slave in 1841 and elected to the U.S. Senate in 1875, and John Mercer Langston, U.S. Representative from Virginia and Dean of the Howard University Law School from 1869 to 1879.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
Lack of perpetual care funds has made upkeep of the 24.5 acres in the heart of Ward 7 a continuing challenge to the dedicated volunteers who work to keep these hallowed grounds free of overgrowth and clear of debris.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
In recent months the Woodlawn Cemetery Association, a newly-formed community-based advisory committee and the Marshall Heights CDO, the Columbia Harmony Society and DCPL have made some progress in restoring the gates and grounds and preserving burial records, but still face an enormous task in clearing the back 2/3 of the property, righting stones and ensuring long-term financial security.

Martin Luther King, Jr, Public Library
901 G Street, NW

OWNER: DC City Government

UPDATE: The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library was awarded Landmark status by the Historic Preservation Review Board in June of 2007. Long-deferred maintenance has started to take place and, for now, the building seems to have a brighter future. DCPL will continue to monitor this important modernist DC Landmark.

HISTORY
The District of Columbia’s central public library, designed by Modern master Ludwig Mies van der Rhode and completed in 1972, is the only building in Washington, DC by any of the ‘big three’ Modernist architects. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library has stood as the only monument to Dr. King in the nation’s capital for the past 30 years. It holds special significance to the millions of Washingtonians who have come to the library over the past decades to participate in a wide variety of programs and activities, and is a center of community life in the District. The library, the only one ever designed by Mies, was constructed with a flexible interior plan and the capacity to add a fifth story when needed. These measures were taken to ensure the building could continue to serve its intended purpose for approximately 150 years.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
But because of three decades of lack of preventive maintenance and system upgrades, and despite a concept plan for an extensive renovation that would cost half as much as a new building, the District government is pursuing plans to replace the current library with a new, smaller building on the site of the old convention center one block to the north.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
The League supports landmark status for the building and its renovation so that it can continue to serve as DC’s central public library. In the event the decision is made to build a new library, the League will work to ensure that the building is not demolished or substantially altered.

Anne Archbold Hall

Reservation 13 in SE Washington

Owner: DC City Government

History
Completed in 1932 as the Gallinger Hospital Nurses Residence, this stately building was later named for philanthropist Anne Archbold. This brick building with limestone trim housed the Capital City School of Nursing until 1972, when the school closed. The building continued in use until just recently, serving as office space for the DC Department of Health. Anne Archbold Hall is one of the oldest remaining structures on the DC General Hospital campus where health care service have been provided to residents of the District of Columbia of over 150 years. The National Library of Medicine regards the entire DC General campus as a Medical Historic Site.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
The DC Office of Planning has made the redevelopment of Parcel 13 a priority. In March 2002, the Office of Planning submitted a draft master plan for Reservation 13 to the Council for approval. This master plan does not retain any of the current DC General buildings. The preservation and reuse of this well constructed building should be integrated into the planning process and thoughtfully considered before any plan is approved. Without preservation action, there may soon be no evidence remaining that this site was dedicated to the health needs of the people of Washington, DC.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
Support on-going efforts to encourage the Office of Planning to integrate the building into its development plans. Volunteers are needed for this activity.

St. Elizabeths (Government Hospital for the Insane)
2700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave, SE

Owner: DC City Government and the General Services Administration

HISTORY
Established as the Government Hospital for the Insane in 1855, Saint Elizabeths has a long history in the treatment of the mentally ill. The site is composed of more than 300 acres in the Anacostia section of Southeast Washington, DC. To the north of the oldest of these buildings is a magnificent vista over the city of Washington and the Potomac to Virginia, a prospect that had been chose for curative purposes. The buildings to the east of Martin Luther King Ave., which are owned by the DC Government, are largely of the twentieth century and both sides have a campus layout with a succession of quadrangles, with curving drives between. There are just over forty contributing historic structures.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
St. Elizabeths is listed as a National Historic Landmark and on the National Register, but not designated as a local landmark or historic district, and hence, it enjoys no protection under the DC Historic Preservation Law. The grounds were open to the general public until about ten years ago, but entrance to the grounds is now restricted. Currently, the DC Office of Planning is holding a series of planning meetings to explore the range of possible development scenarios.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
DCPL advocates for a comprehensive planning approach to development at St. Elizabeths including both campuses.

DC World War I Memorial
West Potomac Park and National Mall

Roughly Bounded by the Capitol Grounds on the East, Independence Avenue on the South, 15th Street on the West, and Constitution Avenue on the North

HISTORY
Washington, D.C. residents built a Peristyle Doric Temple to memorialize local heroes who served the nation in World War One. Completed in 1931, the temple is located on the National Mall in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C. It was the first memorial on the Mall to list all D.C. residents who lost their lives in the war, regardless of their race, class, or gender. The D.C. War Memorial is the only local D.C. memorial on the National Mall. It was entrusted to the U.S. National Park Service. The memorial is forty feet in diameter and large enough to hold the 80-member U.S. Marine Corps Band.

The D.C. World War Memorial is a gemstone in the crown of local Washington, D.C. memorial architecture and civic pride. In a jurisdiction whose civic symbols are often overshadowed by the vast portfolio of architectural gems of the nation, the D.C. World War Memorial stands as a tribute to D.C.’s vision, its loyalty and honor to the nation, and an expression of love for the D.C. men and women who served and died for their nation
WHAT IS THE THREAT?
The historic integrity of the Mall as envisioned by Pierre L’Enfant in 1791 and the McMillan Plan of 1901-1902 is threatened by continuing pressures from Congress and special interest groups to approve new memorials and museums on its dwindling open space and alter landmarks for security purposes. This is taking place as existing, lesser known memorials are not maintained.

Though the D.C. World War Memorial continues to stand gracefully in a shady grove of trees, it has been neglected for decades. The memorial needs attention—both public attention and physical attention. It has been thirty years since it major work has been done on the memorial. It is in critical need of a complete structural evaluation. This year, the National Park Service (NPS) is testing new lighting in the interior dome, which it has connected to the original timer in the floor—the clock is still working.

The neglect is due in part to the fact that its history had been forgotten by most, both by the federal government and local D.C. citizens. The memorial has no signage or explanation except for that carved in the white marble. Part of the problem was that until recently, it seemed unclear who was responsible for maintaining the structure—the local D.C. government or the federal government. The NPS felt they had responsibility for the grounds but not the structure. A National Park Service Cultural Resource Specialist examined the records and determined that the memorial is the responsibility of the NPS.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
By placing the DC World War Memorial on the Most Endangered Places List, DCPL hopes to organize efforts to alert others to the significance of this site. Library.

The threat to the Mall is particularly acute because changes continue to move ahead despite protective legislation and agency directives. By placing the Mall on the Most Endangered Places list, DCPL is alerting both the citizens of Washington and of the nation to the threat to this unique historic and cultural resource.

Uline Arena (Washington Coliseum)
Between 2nd & 3rd and L and M Streets, NE

Owner: Waste Management

HISTORY
This building is located on Third Street, NE, directly adjacent to the railroad tracks just north of Union Station and bounded by L and M Streets. It was built in 1941 and operated by Miguel L. “Uncle Mike” Uline for the Washington Lions of the Eastern Hockey League. The building would seat 9,000 people. This concrete vaulted building was the site of the Beatles first North American concert (just after their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show) and also noted as the home of Go-Go music where local musicians such as Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk and Rare Essence performed. Political rallies and speeches were a tradition in the Arena including a rally stated by Fight for Freedom, Inc. in support of the US involvement in WWII a month before Pearl Harbor and a speech by Nation of Islam Founder Elijah Muhammad in 1959. Since its construction in 1941, the arena later known as the Washington Coliseum, has been a place for figure skating, jazz, wrestling, ballet, basketball, Washington’s Go-Go music style, midget auto racing, rock, hockey, karate, politics, tennis, boxing and Indian ragas.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
Currently, the building is used as a trash transfer station. In 2002 a DC statute established a 500-foot buffer zone between a transfer station and the nearest residential property – more than twice the distance between the Uline site and the nearest residential property, according to public records. Also, city officials are focusing on the nearby area as a possible site for a Major League Baseball stadium.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
Support research and planning activities that would promote preservation and re-use of the building as a valuable historic structure of benefit to the community. Volunteers are encouraged to contact DCPL to assist in this effort.

Corcoran Hunting Lodge
Michigan Ave & Harwood Road, NE

HISTORY
Built in the late 1800s and owned by William Corcoran, the Hunting Lodge is the only souvenir of hunting left in Washington, DC. Only slightly modified since it was built, it is in good condition, with out buildings, original property fence, gate and gatehouse in same style. The Hunting Lodge is not on the protected grounds of the USSAH and is in the process of being sold for development. Also on the property is a WWI bunker, one of two left in city.

SW Redevelopment – Capitol Park

HISTORY
In 1952, architect Chloetheil Woodard Smith designed a plan with architect Louis Justement that she called a “ bold conceptual scheme that called for the modern renewal of this quadrant” that included a neighborhood of high-rise apartments and townhouses. Landscape architect Dan U. Kiley, helped bridge the two types of Capitol Park buildings with a park like setting.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
Currently threatened by demolition and private development, residents are concerned about protecting the quality of life of Southwest Waterfront and Capitol Park by maintaining the character of living in an urban park-like setting.

DCPL’S RESPONSE
DCPL would like to establish a template for the future that encourages development that complies with design intentions, character and context of the original plans and protect the green space and urban park settings.

Western Telegraph Company Tenley Site
4623 41st Street, NW

HISTORY
The Western Telegraph Company Tenley site was built in 1947 and is the only architect designed building in the nation designed solely as an antenna structure. In March 1945 the FCC authorized the Western Union Telegraph Company to place into service an experimental microwave relay system between New York and Philadelphia. The system to beam telegraph between stations used radio frequencies that had previously only been used by military radar systems.

Western Union bought the property at 4623 41st Street, NW in September 1945 and hired Leon Chatelain, Jr. to design the new Tenley transmission tower. Construction began in July 1946 and was completed on March 24, 1947.

Western Union continued to operate the facility until its sale in 1996 to Micronet, Inc. In 1997 American Tower Corporation acquired Micronet and all of its assets. Currently the site is used as a communications facility, mainly for personal wireless services.

WHAT IS THE THREAT?
There are plans for a 756-foot tower and ongoing alterations without initiating Section 106 consultation with the DC SHPO. The telecommunications and broadcast industries continue to lobby the FCC for streamlining its environmental compliance (NEPA & Section 106) obligations.

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