“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
In 1995 the Andrich Fund was established by family and friends in memory of Mark Collin Andrich (1952-1995), an architectural historian and longtime DCPL volunteer. For more than ten years, Andrich volunteered his services to conduct historic site surveys and to research numerous buildings as part of DCPL’s ongoing documentation of Washington’s apartment buildings, banks and office buildings. Monies contributed to the fund continue to assist DCPL and other community groups in documenting historic buildings and places and achieving their designation as landmarks and historic districts.
Fittingly, DCPL celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala dinner and program at the Old Post Office on May 17, 1996. The event attracted significant publicity and brought together old and new supporters to mark the milestone. That same year DCPL announced its first list of Washington’s Most Endangered Places. The annual announcement of the release of the list became an important media event for the organization. Publicity generated by the list continues to bring attention to the deteriorating condition of numerous sites and helps raise the public’s general awareness of historic preservation.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, DCPL faced several difficult challenges. The first was the 1995-96 proposed development of a sports arena on 7th Street, NW, known today as the Verizon Center. The project site was within the Downtown Historic District that DCPL had campaigned to establish in 1987. Although DCPL and other organizations expended considerable time and effort in opposition to the arena and in favor of a 24-hour, mixed-use project for that site, the arena was ultimately built at Gallery Place. Nevertheless, the efforts of DCPL and others in this case helped establish a sound protocol for the review of such projects in the future including a Memorandum of Agreement codifying a mitigation plan that included among other things, the re-opening of long closed sections of L’Enfant streets.
In 1998, the construction of a new convention center near Mount Vernon Square was proposed. DCPL was a key player in creating the Memorandum of Agreement that provided a $1,000,000 revolving fund for exterior improvements to historic buildings in the vicinity of the project, additional funds to clean and repair the Carnegie Library, and an eighteen-month moratorium on demolition or significant alteration of nearby buildings in order to allow for the submission of landmark nominations.
Notable educational programs of the era included a long-running lecture series sponsored by Hines Interests (1986-1996) as well as collaborative programs on Heritage Tourism (co-sponsored with the Heritage Tourism Coalition) and Making Money with Preservation (co-sponsored with the DC Building Industry Association) in 1997. In 1998, a workshop on Strengthening Preservation Enforcement led to formation of the citywide Coalition for Greater Preservation Enforcement, now called the Historic Districts Coalition.
DCPL furthered its advocacy mission by lobbying the City Council to remove hurdles to the landmark designation process and adopt legislation prohibiting “demolition by neglect.” In 1997, the League lobbied the Council to adopt legislation authorizing a Historic Preservation Tax Credit. This program was finally funded and implemented in 2007 and has since been converted into the DC Historic Home Owner Grant Program administered by the DC Historic Preservation Office.