“The Old 1899 Post Office is a massive bulwark of the city’s historic charm. Without it, all that frozen bureaucracy on Pennsylvania Avenue would become unbearably oppressive. Besides, it was there first.”
— Wolf Von Eckardt
After the grand re-opening of the restored Old Post Office in 1984, the Board of Directors refocused the organization and changed the group’s name to reflect a citywide, rather than just a downtown interest in historic preservation. The new name, the DC Preservation League, reflected an expanded organization and goals. “These initiatives,” wrote President Robert A. Peck (1983-1989) in the newsletter, “reflect a consensus of the Board of Directors that it is time for a change; that the District of Columbia needs a strong and sophisticated organization; and that the current structure of Don’t Tear It Down will not permit us to evolve into that organization.”
DCPL championed the preservation of many iconic downtown landmarks, such as the Keith-Albee (Riggs) Building, the Colorado Building, Red Lion Row, and the Greyhound Bus Station. But the story has not always been about imposing landmarks. Thanks to Don’t Tear It Down/DCPL’s sponsorship of historic district nominations, many small neighborhood buildings stand protected, symbols of the early development strengths that created them. In 1987, in conjunction with the Metropolitan Planning and Housing Association, DCPL initiated the Joint Project on Preserving Small Buildings Downtown. This led to a proposal for the creation of a Downtown Historic Preservation District. One important aspect of this effort was the adoption by the zoning commission of a new rule to allow for the transfer of development rights to sites outside the historic district.