Recorder of Deeds Building

The Recorder of Deeds Building, designed by the Office of the Municipal Architect under Nathan C. Wyeth, was one component of a municipal complex planned for the Judiciary Square area. Its “stripped classical” style, popularized by Paul Cret and Bertram Goodhue, echoes that of the District of Columbia Municipal Center one block east. A companion building, the DC Library Annex at 499 Pennsylvania Avenue NW (1940-1943), was demolished in 1982.

The smooth planes of the ROD Building’s facades are cut by a knife-edge vertical corner that aligns with the intersection of D and Sixth Streets. The building’s cornerstone faces D Street at this corner. The perfectly symmetrical facade on each street-face is divided horizontally by a pair of narrow, angled cornices between the first and second stories and topped by a more accentuated roofline cornice. The first floor is illuminated by a row of flush-mounted metal-framed single windows. The vertically-stacked second and third story windows are separated by grey enameled panels, and the entire window ensemble is inset in the facade, creating the impression that the vertical window bands are separated by flat-profiled limestone columns.

The decorations above the twin entrances at either end of the D Street façade repeat the cornices’ incised leaf design, while the legend “Recorder of Deeds” is inscribed below the second story cornice on the D Street façade. Each entrance has a pair of bronze doors with upper and lower glass panes.

The building includes basement vaults to hold original deeds. The first floor includes foyers at each entrance, a lobby that runs in parallel with D Street, and public rooms containing current records. Offices for the Recorder and other managers occupy the second floor, while the third floor housed copyists and other clerical staff.  Several public rooms and the recorder’s office have faux fireplaces originally equipped with “electric fires.” The rooftop included a penthouse structure housing an employee cafeteria which is not visible from the street.

The interior is paneled in medium brown walnut. Its most notable feature is its extensive art program, especially the seven murals commissioned by the Treasury Department Section of Fine Art in 1943. These murals are painted on fabric and mounted on the building’s walls in the locations described in Attachment 1 of the landmark nomination. Other significant artworks include the 1936 series of portraits of prior recorders, William Edouard Scott’s oil painting titled “Groundbreaking” (1944), and Selma Burke’s sculptural relief “Four Freedoms” (1945).

A landmark nomination was filed in 2011 and was listed in the DC Inventory of Historic Places in December 2019.

As of 2020, the building’s roof has failed and water has infiltrated the building. DCPL is currently working with Councilmember Robert White’s office who has directed the Department of General Services to utilize earmarked funds to stabilize the building. A new roof is anticipated to be completed by June 2020.

Click here for more information on the history of the Recorder of Deeds Building.

Washington Animal Rescue League

The former Washington Animal Rescue League Shelter and Hospital is located at 71 O Street, NW, and is the pivotal structure representing the development of the animal welfare and humane movement in Washington. This women-founded organization constructed the first purpose-built animal shelter in the history of Washington. WARL’s animal hospital and shelter is the oldest surviving representative of a movement strong in early 20th century America and in Washington, DC to treat animals compassionately. The building is significant for history and architecture.

The building was constructed in 1932 and designed by architect and civil engineer Ralph W. Berry in the 20th-century revival style. The builder was Bahen & Wright.

Today the building continues to serve a civic function as the offices of non-profit So Others Might Eat, known as SOME.

Origins of the Humane Movement in Washington
Laws banning cruelty to animals in the District of Columbia date from 1819. In 1870, the District’s first specific organization dedicated to dealing with this problem was created, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The SPCA was renamed the Washington Humane Society (WHS) in 1885, focused solely on the treatment of animals both on the street and in other circumstances, but did not shelter animals. This task was left to the District pound.

From its establishment in 1872, the pound took stray and unlicensed farm animals and dogs from the city streets and held them for three days, making them available for redemption by their owners or purchase by others, before euthanizing them. Aside from distressed owners who had to go to the pound and pay a small charge to get back their livestock or pets, records suggest that there were no major complaints during the 19th and early 20th centuries about the treatment of animals at the pound.

Nonetheless, activists increasingly felt the need for an effort to house and place abandoned animals that emphasized the welfare of the animals rather than their control, like the pound. WHS operated a shelter on 19th Street and Columbia Road, NW from 1897-1899 that took in cats and dogs. Unlike the pound, it did not take animals directly from the street but only those brought in by the public. Like the pound, those not reclaimed or purchased were put down. The endeavor soon ran into the same problems that would doom its immediate successors: the constant need of funds for even its barebones operation and the demand for its land from a growing city, in this case, planned widening of 19th Street.

The first decade and a half of the new century saw attempts to establish animal shelters by a variety of well-meaning but short-lived organizations, including a second WHS shelter, Mrs. Beckley’s Cat Shelter, the Friendly Hand Society, and the Society for Homeless Dogs. All of these groups took in animals and all succumbed to similar problems. An additional issue was neighborhood complaints about the noise of the animals; most were sited outside the District for this reason.

Origins of the Washington Animal Rescue League (WARL)
The shelter movement in Washington lay dormant for a few years after the demise of these early efforts. The genesis of its more successful modern stage was a 1914 effort by two women to take the owners of mistreated horses to court, after which they were moved to concern themselves with the plight of cats, dogs, and horses across Washington.

One of these women was Matilde Goelet Gerry, who became the leading force in the renewed effort. She and her friends invited Anna Harris Smith, founder of Boston’s Animal Rescue League and crusader for the movement, to meet them informally and outline the possibilities. Smith served as the keynote speaker at the public organizing meeting of the new Washington Animal Rescue League held at the Woodward & Lothrop Department Store auditorium on March 31st, 1914. A second meeting the following month formally enrolled members and elected officers, and the organization adopted by-laws and incorporated in DC on April 14th of the same year.  The goal of the initial resolutions was “that an animal hospital and shelter be established in Washington.”

Mathilde Scott Townsend Painted by John Singer Sargent, 1907

Three assumptions initially guided WARL: a primary concern with horses. Gerry was a noted horsewoman. The earliest League record gives its purpose as “the proper disposition of decrepit and injured horses and other animals.” However, dogs and cats always provided the bulk of the League’s work; horses were already disappearing from Washington streets. The shift spared WARL from the dead-end that made WHS nearly irrelevant.

The second assumption was that the League would be largely an organization of women. The organizers specified a “mixed board of men and women to assure business-like management,” and were “especially anxious to have representative men as vice-presidents . . . to assure standing in the community.” Nonetheless, the by-laws always referred to the president as She. Men were generally represented among WARL officers, but the majority was always female, and there were years in which every officer and the entire Board of Directors were women.

Finally, the League was an effort of affluent and socially well-connected Washingtonians. This is clear from the lists of event organizers and attendees, of officers and members, of the prestigious venues of meetings and fundraisers. There are no mentions of middle and working-class people, nor a focus on any type of diversity, except for gender.

The primary object of the new League was the rescue of friendless horses, dogs, and cats from city streets, or – in the case of horses – from abusive owners, usually by purchase. The animals’ injuries were treated and then returned to their original owners, if suitable, or found a new home. WARL was clear from the beginning that unwanted or severely injured animals would be humanely put down. Initially, this was done with chloroform.

From its earliest years, the WARL shelter also operated a contractor medical clinic – initially open one hour every morning and geared toward horses, free for minor services and at “moderate charge . . . for medicines and for surgical operations.” A boarding service was also envisioned, as had been done by its predecessors.  More ambitious plans considered at the March meeting included the purchase of “a horse ambulance and a dog ambulance,” an automobile, and “a special bicycle” (“for carrying injured cats”) and a rest home “for run-down horses.”

Washington Animal Rescue League Archives

WARL’s Shelters and Operations
The League first opened a shelter in a few rooms over a stable at 20 Decatur Street NE on May 10th, 1914 with Mary E. Coursey as manager. Coursey had run a Boston shelter for fifteen years.  She was joined by two assistants. In its first full month of operation, the shelter took in 365 cats, 19 dogs, and 2 horses. Sadly the dogs and cats were euthanized. Healthy horses were sent to new owners, the seriously ailing were euthanized.

WARL’s founders and at least some members of the public seemed to think the organization superior to the Pound, with its focus on control rather than compassion. Prominent supporters bolstered this confidence: Ms. West of the Washington Cat Club and Madame Bey, wife of the Turkish ambassador, were members, as was Edith Wilson, the first in a line of First Lady supporters. Prominent actor George Arliss championed participation by men but feared that “people wouldn’t listen to an actor off the stage.”

The number of animals brought to WARL quickly required a move to a larger facility on Ohio Avenue; in August 1915 alone the shelter took in 743 dogs and cats. The League increasingly adopted out animals, especially cats.

Horses were typically purchased from owners – in its first full year of operation 69 were bought. WARL’s early efforts included the provision of “a kind of carpet slipper” allowing horses to get traction on snow-covered streets, and encouraging MPD officers to report abused animals to the shelter. In general, the operation of the shelter remained WARL’s focus.

A visitor of 1915 wrote: “The system is remarkable . . . I was so impressed by the place that I feel every man, woman, and child should visit.”  Nonetheless, a headline of two years later tells the usual story: “Residents of Ohio Avenue Opposed to Rescued Animals in Neighborhood.”  Among other complaints in the residents’ petition to local government was that dead animals were not picked up promptly, resulting in a terrible smell.  WARL’s continued growth and neighborhood opposition soon brought about a move to Maryland Avenue, where it remained for many years.

71 O Street NW Hospital and Shelter
Finally in 1932 WARL made the momentous move to its first purpose-built shelter, the building at 71 O Street NW. The impetus for this project was an increasing need for space and facility, as well as the National Capital Park and Planning Commission plan to develop the District’s immediate southwest area as a government enclave.  Sale of the Maryland Avenue property to the District government paid for most of the new property.

The community into which WARL moved – near Truxton Circle about a mile north of the Capitol – was a long-established area by 1932. Warehouses and workshops, especially garages and auto repair shops, increasingly crowded against the working-class residents. Neighboring Swampoodle, had already seen working-class residents displaced by light industry.

The League’s Real Estate and Building Committee first considered a site at South Capitol and D Streets SW, which was near its current shelter and the pound. However, a few congressmen objected to the hospital so close to their offices. The O Street site was the next choice. O Street protested too: neighbors hired a downtown law firm to protest the shelter as a non-conforming use in violation of zoning regulations. The Commissioners disagreed and permitted the animal hospital, but limited it to 40 animals.

Architect Ralph W. Berry
The new shelter was about one block west of the League’s first, rented space on Decatur Street. Architect Ralph W. Berry received the contract to plan (in separate jobs) the street-facing shelter/office and, on the rear alley, a garage. Berry designed nearly 100 houses in the District and others in Montgomery County, Maryland, between 1923 and 1937, almost all brick or stone structures in the wealthy upper-northwest area. This was a rare non-residential building for him.

Berry and League officials visited shelters in New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. The architect submitted his proposal to the federal Commission of Fine Arts for an advisory-only opinion, featuring an English façade of Potomac River gneiss over a brick structure. The Commission found the design “good” but felt that a stone structure was “more appropriate for a suburban type of building” and recommended its then-standard “Georgian brick building.” Berry ignored this advice. Bahen & Wright, a general contractor active in the eastern half of the city 1926-1940, was selected as the builder.

The project faced a few challenges, such as delay in the removal of the old warehouse, readjustment of plans, and permitting issues. When excavation began, water and bad soil necessitated a different foundation. The last added $6,260 in costs, bringing the project cost to about $26,000.

1931 – Star Collection

Opening and Use of 71 O Street, NW
The shelter opened with an invitation-only ceremony on June 23rd, 1932. Visitors and reporters, were impressed, calling it, “The most modern and well-equipped facilities for the care and shelter of stray and sick beasts,” “thoroughly insulated and fireproofed,” and “safe, sanitary and comfortable accommodations.”  With its 50 cages for dogs and a dozen cat cages, separate runs for each, veterinary clinic, two “comfortable” stalls for horses (in the garage), and an upstairs caretaker’s apartment, “the new building compares favorably with the best anywhere” –  “a credit to the City and to the Directors.”

Cages bore the names of donors and a plaque in the main hall commemorated the 1917 donation of the earlier building by Martha Codman and Chester Snow, which later paid for the new one. League members made donations of shrubbery, the paved walk & office furniture.

Upon opening, the building already held 40 dogs and 12 cats. In its new quarters, the League increased its clinic service to three veterinarians. Through an agreement with the District government, city-owned horses that were retired in favor of trucks went to WARL, which placed healthy ones in nearby farms. At the same time, routine ambulance runs to take pets from homes dropped back from daily to four days a week, though the truck was available 24 hours a day for injured animals. Educational outreach grew in scope. The League’s work at O Street continued smoothly, with a larger staff, more professional operations and continued harmonious governance.

By the mid-1960s the facility clearly required updating. The District government was not supportive, announcing that it planned to take the property for a school playground. Although this threat receded, WARL began a five-year search for larger quarters, moving 71 Oglethorpe Street NW, at the very edge of the District, in 1977, where it still operates today.

The Washington Animal Rescue League animal hospital and shelter is the pivotal structure representing the development of the animal welfare and humane movement in Washington. Earlier animal shelters opened by other organizations prior to 1910 were essentially shacks with wire-fenced pens, and all soon closed. The WARL gave a temporary home for any abandoned animal – principally dogs, cats, horses – brought to its premises; its work continues today. In 1932, having outgrown its last facility and facing eviction from the city government for road construction, WARL made the momentous decision to construct the first purpose-built animal shelter in the history of Washington, the present building on O Street. The new structure was praised as the acme of modern efficiency and comfort for the animal-tenants. It served as a model for WARL’s current building on Oglethorpe Street.

The women founded WARL animal hospital and shelter is the oldest surviving representative of a movement strong in early 20th century America and in Washington, DC to treat all animals with love and care, complementing the parallel work of the District pound. As a reminder of its central role in this civic and humanitarian effort by the citizens of Washington the building is significant for its history and its architecture.

The DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) designated the building a DC Landmark in December 2018 for meeting criteria for history and for architecture.  Click here to read the HPRB decision. 

Click here to learn more about the Washington Animal Rescue League now known as the Humane Rescue Alliance. 
Click here to learn more about So Others Might Eat. 

DC Preservation League Seeks Community Outreach and Grants Manager (Full-Time)

The DC Preservation League (DCPL) is Washington, DC’s citywide nonprofit dedicated to the preservation, protection, and enhancement of the historic and built environment of our nation’s capital. Founded in 1971 as Don’t Tear It Down to save the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue, DCPL has worked diligently to ensure that preservation remains an economic force for the city’s neighborhoods and historic downtown.

With guidance from DCPL’s Executive Director, the Community Outreach and Grants Manager coordinates the development and implementation of the three main programmatic components: (1) core mission/advocacy (2) community outreach; and (3) the Preservation Initiatives Grant Program

To meet the organization’s mission of protecting DC’s historic resources, the Community Outreach and Grants Manager will play an important role in DCPL’s advocacy efforts.

  • Serves as staff liaison for DCPL Landmarks Committee; coordinate with Executive Director and Committee Chair to prepare monthly agendas and report meeting outcomes, prepare and file landmark and historic district nominations, coordinate with the DC Historic Preservation Office on landmark nomination submissions; present information on landmark nominations to community groups and the Historic Preservation Review Board
  • Assists Executive Director with Section 106 Consulting Party responsibilities; provides meeting summaries and prepares comments as needed
  • Prepares testimony for DC Council, DC Historic Preservation Review Board, and other governmental agency hearings on historic preservation cases and policies affecting historic landmarks and districts
  • Raises awareness of advocacy issues through social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and website posts
  • Manages graduate student fellow and hire and manage interns

Cultivates and maintains productive and positive relationships with citizens, community groups, schools, and governmental agencies to identify needs, assists in planning educational programs, and answer questions about community/neighborhood preservation priorities and activities.

  • Works with Program Associate to plan and present educational programs designed to engage more citizens in preservation activities and to increase overall community support for preservation as a basic community value
  • Coordinates with Programs Associate to plan regular workshops to share information on preservation tools and incentives
  • Assists in preservation advocacy activities designed to spur the preservation of endangered historic structures and open spaces
  • Appears before neighborhood groups and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions to share information about historic preservation and seek engagement from new communities
  • Assists neighborhood groups with the preparation of DC Landmark nominations and other activities to raise awareness
  • Manages Historic Districts Coalition, an ad hoc group of existing neighborhood preservation organizations. Schedules meetings and provides technical assistance to make them more effective advocates and to increase the level of services they provide to their communities
  • Promotes DCPL’s programs to communities throughout the city and prepares content for monthly e-newsletter, and website.

Provides management and oversight for all aspects of grant programs offered by the DC Preservation League. Works as part of a team to ensure funding goals are in line with larger DCPL priorities. Facilitates the smooth operation of all grant application processing and manages tracking and reporting for all grant programs.

  • Assists in developing grant applications, guidelines, and reporting forms for new/future funding programs
  • Identifies requirements for grantee reporting and the development of reporting materials that will allow DCPL to track the impact of its funding over time. Compiles this information and determine the best way to highlight this impact for key constituents and the general public
  • Works with applicants to determine eligibility for specific funds and provides pre- and post-decision-making assistance to grant seekers as needed
  • Organizes and manages the grant selection committee to identify successful grant applications
  • Works with the DC Historic Preservation Office and other organizations to promote the Program and recruit a diverse selection of eligible applicants for each grant cycle
  • Serves as a primary point of contact for both grant seekers and grantees
  • Monitors all grant program finances and prepares progress reports for the Board of Trustees
  • Generates grant contracts and payment requests for funded projects
  • Ensures grantee compliance on funded projects.


  • Bachelor’s degree required. Master’s degree preferred. Knowledge of the historic preservation field encouraged
  • Minimum of two years’ experience in program development and implementation, with experience working in a community-based and multicultural setting
  • Minimum of two years of professional-level experience, including experience managing and coordinating projects. Familiarity with non-profit grant-making or similar processes preferred
  • Ability to navigate a wide range of relationships including government leaders, local business owners, and youth, as well as the ability to relate to culturally diverse populations
  • Experience managing budgets, grants, and grant report writing
  • Strong organizational skills and the ability to prioritize, multi-task efficiently and respond to a high volume of ongoing requests in a timely fashion
  • Ability to make independent decisions within a general decision-making framework
  • Excellent oral, verbal, and written communication skills
  • Ability to adapt and be flexible in a dynamic work environment
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite
  • Familiarity with Word Press, InDesign, and Photoshop desired.

The position is full-time (37.5 Hours/week). Evening and weekend work required.
Salary Commensurate with Experience.  Benefits include 80/20 medical and dental insurance, 403B retirement plan, and a flexible work schedule.

Interested candidates should provide the following by COB Friday, December 20th:

  • Resume
  • Contact list with four professional references
  • Salary Requirement
  • A summary of your Community Outreach and Grant Administration Experience
  • Any supporting materials you deem appropriate.

Questions regarding the position description and/or application process may be directed to the Executive Director at rebecca[at]

The DC Preservation League is an equal opportunity employer and is seeking a diverse slate of candidates for consideration.

This position has been filled. 

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month

October is LGBTQ History Month! Rainbow History Project
(RHP) established the Community Pioneer Award in 2003 to honor people whose contributions to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community of the Metropolitan Washington, DC area merited special recognition. To celebrate the stories and contributions of DC’s LGBTQ+ community, we’re highlighting individuals recognized by RHP and the historic places that embody their legacies here and on Facebook.

Ric Mendoza

Ric Mendoza-Gleason arrived in DC in 1965 after serving in the Korean War. He is recognized as an important leader in the Latinx LGBTQ community. His work helped develop organizations, improved relations between the police and community, and established health and cultural services.

He volunteered with the Gay Switchboard service at 1724 20th Street NW, a contributing site in the Dupont Circle Historic District. It served as a support hotline for the community. Mendoza was a founding member of Gays and Lesbians Opposed to Violence, GLOV, which improved relations between the LGBTQ community and the Metropolitan Police Department to improve safety for LGBTQ individuals at a time when police routinely entrapped queer residents and refused to meet with gay leaders. He was subsequently a member of the 3rd District Police advisory board.

Mendoza also served on the executive board of ENLACE, an LGBTQ Latinx organization established in 1987. ENLACE means “link” in Spanish – fittingly, it brought Latino lesbians and gays together from around the country and inspired new local, regional, and national organizations. ENLACE held meetings at the Gay Community Center (1228 17th Street NW) and El Dorado Restaurant (500 8th St SE). He participated in gay Latino contingents in the annual Hispanic Day parade, and joined the DC Latino Civil Rights Task Force as an individual, later helping ENLACE join as well. Learn more about Mendoza here.

No photo description available.

Although DC has a rich LGBTQ history, there are only two related sites listed as landmarks in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites. The historic environment embodies a community’s history, and by protecting those spaces, we are also helping to preserve their identities, culture, and stories. The Historic Preservation Office was recently awarded a grant to identify and preserve LGBTQ sites across Washington, and is collaborating with DC Preservation League on the project.

Call for Nominations
2020 Preservation Awards

Since 2003, the District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation has honored more than 100 outstanding preservation projects and dozens of individuals and organizations for their exceptional contributions in support of historic preservation in Washington, DC.

Nominate a project or person who you believe exemplifies excellence in historic preservation!

Projects must have been completed after January 1, 2016.

The ONLINE APPLICATION  is due by 5:00 pm on November 22, 2019.

The next awards program will take place in May 2020 at DAR Constitution Hall.

Past Awards Programs

African American Civil Rights in the 20th Century in Washington, DC

The DC Preservation League (DCPL) is pleased to announce that we have been awarded a grant from the National Park Service’s (NPS) African American Civil Rights Grants Program* and a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Dorthea DeSchweinitz Preservation Fund for DC.**  The grants will underwrite the production of a National Register Multiple Property Document (MPD)—an official document that provides context for and identifies resources related to a specific theme—focused on the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century in Washington, DC. This project will catalyze local nominations to both the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.

To assist in the completion of this document, DCPL has contracted with Prologue DC—a Washington-based, woman-owned firm specializing in DC neighborhood history, which will work in consultation with preservation architect Nakita Reed, AIA; scholar Chris Myers Asch of Colby College and co-author of Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital (2017); and architectural historian Amber Wiley, Ph.D, of Rutgers University—to document historic resources, identify themes, and develop a historic context narrative outlining criteria for their inclusion.  As specified by NPS, Prologue will use the 2008 NPS report Civil Rights in America, A Framework for Identifying Significant Sites as a reference for identifying properties to be included.

Image result for 12th street ymcaA first draft of the site list will be completed and shared with the public this fall and an open-invitation community meeting will follow on Tuesday, November 5th at 6:30 pm at the Thurgood Marshall Center, 1816 12th Street, NW. Please save the date! Click here to view the working list of sites that will be discussed at the November 5th presentation.

Once the MPD is finalized, DCPL will submit it to the DC Historic Preservation Office for adoption by the DC Historic Preservation Review Board. It will then be forwarded to the National Register of Historic Places.

To receive email updates on the project and a special invitation to the Community Forum, please register here.

*Partially funded by the African American Civil Rights program of  the Historic Preservation Fund administered by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

**This project has been funded in part by a grant from the Dorothea DeSchweinitz Fund for DC of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

1963 March on Washington, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection
12th Street YMCA, 1816 12th Street, NW, Thurgood Marshall Center

Donald Beekman Myer (1937-2019)

DCPL Trustee Donald Beekman Myer, FAIA passed away unexpectedly on August 8th. Don called the City of Washington home since 1963 when there was ample opportunity to combine his architectural training with an emerging historic preservation movement. Early restoration work for the National Park Service was combined with HABS study of Washington’s architecture. Later, serving as Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Don incorporated historic preservation experience with design review, including serving with the original Joint Committee on Landmarks and administering the Old Georgetown Board. He served on the faculties of the Smithsonian Associates and Catholic University teaching Washington architectural history and urban conservation. He also served as the Clerk of the Works for the Washington National Cathedral. Volunteer activities have included leadership roles with the American Institute of Architects and the Adams Memorial Foundation.

Don’s trusteeship with the DC Preservation League focused on its Project Review Committee, Don served on the committee from 2008-2019, serving as the from 2010 -2014. His leadership and participation have fundamentally shaped the character of Washington, DC through review of major development projects affecting historic landmarks and within historic districts.

Don was also a recognized Botanical Artist. His work is in several collections, been shown in a number of galleries and exhibited at the Corcoran Gallery and the Delaware Art Museum.

DCPL’s Trustees and Staff will very much miss his wisdom and guidance.

The Washington Post Obituary – August 14, 2019
Learn more about Don’s time with the Commission of Fine Arts

What Don’s colleagues had to say about him: 

“He was a unique and wonderful man and I am very glad I was able to get to know him and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of his company.  He will be sorely missed.”  – Rob McLennan, Chair, DCPL Project Review Committee

“Don was such a generous, kind man, and I so admired his ability to acknowledge the good work of our presenters, while also letting them know we had concerns about their work…he was a master at that. We both attended the University of Illinois, and I always enjoyed sharing that with him.” – Elizabeth Milnarik, Project Review Committee Member

“I am so grateful I was able to serve with Don and will miss his graciousness, enthusiasm, and depth of knowledge. He was truly a wonderful man.” – Dana Litowitz, Project Review Committee Member

“I’ve known Don for many years and always treasured his friendship. He was a consummate professional – thoughtful, constructive, and fair, and a talented watercolorist, as well as a wonderful, warm person with a mischievous sense of humor and a twinkle in his eye. He will be greatly missed…” – Darwina Neal, FASLA, Project Review Committee Member

“I knew Don for many years and had the greatest respect for him. I always learned so much from him. He was a big reason why I joined the DCPL board. Such a pleasure to always see him. He will be missed. ” – Amy Ballard, DCPL Board of Trustees

“Big loss for us and our community.  His contribution and style will surely be missed by all.” – Gerard Heiber, DCPL Board of Trustees


Request for Proposals – African American Civil Rights in the 20th Century in Washington, DC

March on Washington, 1963 – Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Collection.

Background: The DC Preservation League (DCPL) is Washington’s citywide nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and protection of the historic resources of our nation’s capital. DCPL’s mission to preserve, protect, and enhance Washington’s historic and built environment is carried out through education, community outreach, landmark designation, and advocacy. In 2018, DCPL received a grant from the Historic Preservation Fund of the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, to underwrite development of a Multiple Property Document and associated nominations focused on the African American Civil Rights Movement in the 20th Century in Washington, DC. This project will be the first of its kind and will catalyze nominations to both the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places.

Purpose: DCPL seeks proposals from qualified preservation consultants (Consultant) interested in undertaking research to identify and document historic resources associated with the African American Civil Rights Movement of the 20th Century in Washington, DC.  The selected Consultant must also produce a National Register Multiple Property Document (MPD) to thematically address “African American Civil Rights Movement in the 20th Century in Washington, DC” and present the MPD and a minimum of two (2) individual National Register nominations to the DC Historic Preservation Review Board.

Deadline to Submit Proposals: Please submit electronically to Kelli Knox ( by 11:59pm March 1, 2019.  Subject line should read “Proposal in Response to MPD project.”

Click here for full text of RFP.

DCPL Announces New Officers!

A new slate of officers has been elected to lead the DC Preservation League Board of Trustees.


Scott DeMartino joined the DCPL Board of Trustees in 2012 and served as its Vice President since 2015. He serves on the Government Affairs Committee that pursues issues relating to government and its impact on preservation. The Committee monitors city and federal government planning decisions that may impact Washington’s historic resources, while advocating for sound historic preservation policy.

In his professional life, Scott is a member of Dentons’ Real Estate practice. He concentrates on real estate and renewable investments that yield economic, cultural and sustainable community benefits to investment partners. To this end, Scott teams with lenders, investors, developers and nonprofit sponsors to advise on how best to utilize historic rehabilitation tax credits (HTCs) and new markets tax credits (NMTCs), as well as renewable energy tax credits (RETCs), as sources of financing. These investment tools bring much-needed capital to construct and rehabilitate health care centers, charter schools and residential rental and commercial facilities, as well as historical arts and community spaces and renewable energy facilities, many in historic or underserved communities.

Vice President

Fay Armstrong joined the DCPL Board of Trustees in 2011 and is an active member of DCPL’s Government Affairs Committee. She came to Washington in 1976 to work for the U.S. Department of State. Over a thirty-year career, she focused primarily on legal and policy matters related to Latin America and the Caribbean. On the weekends, she renovated a 1903 house in Mount Pleasant, learning both what to do and not to do. She has been President of Historic Mount Pleasant since 2006 and is active in the Historic Districts Coalition and with other neighborhood preservation groups in the District.



Kate Olson joined the DCPL Board in 2010 and serves as its Secretary. She grew up in the historic Hudson Valley with a deep appreciation for the interplay of history, architecture and landscape. After attending a Preservation League of New York State conference in college Kate knew she wanted to pursue a profession involving historic preservation law. At Vassar she interned at the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and during her last year at Vermont Law School she interned both at the Vermont State Historic Preservation Office and the general counsel’s office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). Upon graduation she returned to NTHP and worked there for five years before moving on to private practice. As an associate at the law firm of Greenstein DeLorme & Luchs, P.C., Kate advises and represents clients on matters involving land use, zoning, and historic preservation. She represents clients before the D.C. Zoning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment and other District and federal agencies involved in land use and historic preservation matters. In her spare time she can be found cycling with her husband.


Howard Berger is a longtime member and supporter of DCPL.  He began his second term on the DCPL Board in 2012 and now serves as co-chair of the Development Committee.  Mr. Berger is Supervisor of the Prince George’s County Planning Department/M-NCPPC Historic Preservation Section. He began his tenure there in 1988 and thus has extensive experience with all aspects of preservation planning


Please join us in thanking DCPL’s immediate past president John Sandor for his leadership and service.  Mr. Sandor will be rotating off the Board at least for the coming year, we are confident we will continue to see him at DCPL events!

We also extend our sincere gratitude to all the members of the Board of Trustees for their time and commitment to the preservation and protection of Washington’s historic and built environment.  DCPL’s Board is comprised of individuals who have a demonstrated interest in historic preservation and the work of the organization. Board members rise to leadership positions through participation on committees. If you have an interest in joining a committee, please click here to fill out the volunteer form. We ask that all volunteers have a current DCPL membership.

Finally, a special thank you to DCPL’s dedicated members and donors who support DCPL’s mission.  It’s with the help of supporters like you that we are able to protect the District of Columbia’s irreplaceable historic and cultural resources.

Bloomingdale Historic District Presentation

On December 6th, the Bloomingdale Historic District Coalition held a community meeting present the history and significance of the Bloomingdale neighborhood. A copy of the presentation can be viewed by clicking the photo below! Comments by Mara Cherkasky of Prologue DC can be found in the document by clicking the yellow pop up symbol in the upper left corner. If you have trouble viewing the notes in the pdf below, please click on this link that has smaller images with the associated text.