Take One Tour

Post authored by DCPL interns Rebecca Kellam and Andrew Wong

Read the full text of the Don’t Tear it Down G-2 Take One Tour.

“Take One Tour” brochures for the S2/S4 line and the G-2 line

During the mid 1970s, Don’t Tear it Down–the predecessor to today’s DC Preservation League–created the “Take One Tour,” a series of brochures distributed on buses as a guide to historically significant buildings along the routes. These brochures were intended for commuters and tourists alike and sought to raise awareness of Washington’s unique built environment. One of these routes was the G-2: a popular bus route which runs from LeDroit Park to Georgetown. Along the route, riders not only pass many beautiful examples of Federal and Victorian architecture, but also several unusual sites that the casual observer might not notice at first glance. Here is a look back at the G-2 Take One Tour and how the sites along it have both evolved and stayed the same in the near fifty years since it was first created. 

Today’s G-2 route follows the same path as it did in the 1970s: it starts in LeDroit Park, passes through Logan Circle, then Dupont Circle, and ends in Georgetown.

The first stop on the G-2 is located at Howard University on 4th and Bryant Sts. Founded in 1866 by General Oliver O. Howard, the historically black university’s main campus features many Georgian Revival structures. The quality education provided by the university to people of all races  has attracted students and academics from all over the country. In the 154 years since Howard University was first established, it has continued to have a great impact on the larger community. Many of the immediately surrounding neighborhoods were occupied by Howard professors. In the 1970s, individuals in those neighborhoods worried that the physical expansion of the university would come to harm the community it helped create. 

Next on the G-2 bus route is LeDroit Park, a neighborhood founded in the 1870s, making it one of Washington’s first suburbs. Many of the original row houses were designed by architect James McGill. After the first African American family moved into the neighborhood in 1893, the previously all-white suburb became home to many locally and nationally prominent Black Americans, including educator Mary Church Terrell and poet Paul Lawrence Dunbar. LeDroit Park was made a historic district in 1974, just two years before the G-2 “Take One Tour” was distributed, and it retains much of its character today. 

Just before reaching Logan Circle, the G-2 passes through the Shaw neighborhood. This area takes its name from Shaw Junior High School, which in turn is named for Robert Gould Shaw: a Union officer who led one of the first African American units during the American Civil War. As the brochure notes, this large, densely populated residential area was first developed between 1880 and 1910, and still contains some of Washington’s best examples of row house architecture. The neighborhood has not significantly changed since the bus tours began in the 1970s, and in 1999 much of the area was included in the then newly-formed Shaw Historic District.

The John F. Kennedy playground in 1976

Located within the Shaw neighborhood is one of the more unconventional sites listed on the G-2 Take One Tour brochure: the John F. Kennedy Playground. Dedicated in 1964 by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the park is located on P St between 7th and Marion Sts NW. When it was first established, the unusual playground’s equipment was made up of old tanks and jets, a steam locomotive, and a huge slide. Although the playground was extremely popular for some time, it fell into disrepair by the late 1970s and became unsafe for children. Most of the tanks and planes were turned into scrap metal, but the locomotive was restored and put on display in the National Museum of American History. Today, the JFK Recreation Center and a more conventional playground occupy the lot, continuing the site’s legacy as a place for children to play. 

As the G-2 continues its route, it intersects with Logan Circle. In the 1970s and today, Logan Circle is the only original traffic circle in Washington to retain a residential character. The houses on the circle– ornamented with carvings, chimneys, turrets, and ironwork–serve as strong examples of Victorian architecture. Designated a historic district in 1972, many of the mansions and row houses were undergoing restoration when the brochures were being distributed. Although most of the houses and mansions have been converted into apartments or boarding houses, the exteriors of most buildings remain relatively unchanged. 

The G-2 bus on its route in 1976

On the opposite end of the G2’s route from LeDroit Park is Georgetown, the popular, upscale neighborhood along the Potomac River waterfront. Georgetown is undoubtedly one of DC’s most well-known historic districts, and the G2’s path through Georgetown along P and O Streets is densely packed with historically significant sites. These sites range from the prominent Georgetown University to the oldest Black church in the District (Mt. Zion Methodist), and also include many smaller ones such as old streetcar tracks and a gun barrel fence. Of particular note are the many different styles of houses which coexist on Georgetown streets. As Georgetown began to decline economically during the late 19th century, it continued to grow, but within itself, by subdividing. The result: mansion and modest; brick and frame; Georgian and Modern may all be found in one city block. In combination, these places make Georgetown an urban setting unlike any other in the nation’s capital–and like few others in the world.

Early advocates sported these “Don’t Tear It Down” buttons

Throughout the brochure, the “Take One Tour” for the G-2 bus line emphasizes the importance of the physical environment in Washington. It encourages the public to learn more about the structures along public transportation routes by not only talking about specific sites, but also by discussing stylistic traits shared by several buildings and neighborhoods, such as fanciful red brick detailing, turrets, and mansard roofs. These characteristics are a part of what makes Washington special. Don’t Tear It Down used the G-2 and other “Take One Tour” brochures to emphasize the importance of protecting the physical environment and advocating for preservation as a way to strengthen a community. As its fiftieth anniversary approaches, the DC Preservation League continues its mission to make learning about DC’s history and preservation easy and accessible to all through several online resources–such as the DC Historic Sites App–and actively works towards the protection of the physical environment. 

Slowe Burrill House Nominated to DC Inventory of Historic Sites

Slowe (right) and Burrill (left) in their yard (c.1920s-30s). Source: Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University.

On December 18th, the DC Preservation League (DCPL) in partnership with Ben and Dawn O’Connell submitted a nomination to designate the Slowe-Burrill House, 1256 Kearny Street, NE, as a DC Landmark.

“We were delighted to learn more about the lives of our house’s former owners and are pleased that this designation will preserve such an important landmark in our city’s LGBTQ history.” – Ben and Dawn O’Connell, owners 1256 Kearney Street, NE.

About the Property:
Built by James T. Ward in 1890, Lucy Slowe and Mary Burrill bought the Queen Anne house together in 1922. The two women had successful careers in the field of education and lived together in the house until Slowe’s death in 1937. The women first met because of their shared background in the field of education ten years before purchasing the house on Kearny Street. Slowe had the more prestigious career, highlights of which included her being tasked by the District to create the first public African-American Junior High School in the city and later becoming the first Dean of Women at Howard University. In the latter role, Slowe introduced a new study curriculum to female students at Howard; she encouraged women to consider and pursue varied careers beyond the traditional path of teaching. Her willingness to invite many students to her house for social events and informal counseling sessions demonstrates Slowe’s affection for her students. Burrill remained a dedicated educator throughout her life. She taught at a number of District schools during her career, but her longest tenure was at Dunbar High School. Burrill sold the house at 1256 Kearny Street NE shortly after Slowe’s death in 1937.

North View of Property from Kearny Street, NE. EHT Traceries.

The Slowe-Burrill House meets DC Inventory Criterion B in the area of Social History, as the location of what is thought to be one of the most prominent female same-sex relationships in Washington, DC during the early twentieth century. At this time, although the women’s rights movement was growing, society still maintained a generally conservative view regarding alternative lifestyles, particularly in regard to same-sex couples. This resulted in many gay and lesbian couples keeping their personal relationships either entirely hidden or out of public view. Slowe and Burrill were life partners for over twenty years and because they were very private, they escaped significant scrutiny that could have impacted their social standing and careers. Their relationship endured during an era when LGBTQ lifestyles were not yet accepted by society at large.

The Slowe-Burrill House meets DC Inventory Criterion C at the local level for its association with the life and productive career of Lucy Slowe, an important African American educator who made significant contributions to the field of African American education within the District of Columbia.

If designated, the Slowe-Burrill House will join the Dr. Franklin E. Kameny House and the Furies Collective in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites for its association with the LGBTQ history in the District of Columbia.

Click here to read the complete nomination written by EHT Traceries.

In The News!
The Slowe-Burrill house was recently featured on WUSA9 and ABC 7 News – WJLA!

This project has been funded in part by a grant from the Dorthea de Schweinitz Fund for the District of Columbia of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Update: The Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to designate the Slowe-Burrill house on April 30, 2020.

DCPL Announces New Officers!

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

President

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.

 

Secretary

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.

Treasurer

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.

Tell DC Council to Support Increased Funding for HPO

Advocacy Alert!

As a supporter of Historic Preservation in the District of Columbia, we know you care deeply about the irreplaceable historic resources that make our city unique.

To protect these unique resources, the city must provide adequate funding to the DC Historic Preservation Office (HPO) in order to effectively review the issuance of city work permits, inspect work to ensure conformity with approved work permits, issue fines for illegal work that threatens the character of our historic neighborhoods, research and document undesignated landmarks and districts, and educate residents through city outreach programs.

Please send an email to your individual councilmember and the four at-large members asking them to support increased funding for the HPO!

DCPL has testified before the DC Council to request a $1,000,000 funding increase for HPO in the FY18 budget. This increase would enable HPO to provide:

  1. Funding for two (2) new full-time employee (FTE) staff members to actively participate with the inspectors to ensure effective enforcement.
  2. Funding to add information regarding enforcement status to the current online DCRA Property Information Verification System (PIVS).
  3. Training for Historic Preservation Review Board members on the Secretary of Interior Standards for Rehabilitation, criteria for designation of historic landmarks and districts, and the process and procedures associated with their mandate.
  4. Training for current and new ANC Commissioners to help demystify the process and encourage a better understanding of and appreciation for the historic preservation process.
  5. Increased funding to support outreach, educational programming, and research and grant programs including the DC Community Heritage Project Grant administered by Humanities DC, the District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation, and research and documentation grants to further historic preservation in the District of Columbia.

Please use the links below to communicate with the DC Council. Please see sample letter here.
Not sure who your councilmember is? Click here to look it up by address.

Chairman Phil Mendelson
pmendelson@dccouncil.us
At-Large – Anita Bonds
abonds@dccouncil.us
Ward 1 – Brianne Nadeau
bnadeau@dccouncil.us
At-Large – David Grosso
dgrosso@dcouncil.us
Ward 2 – Jack Evans
jevans@dccounil.us
At-Large – Elissa Silverman
esilverman@dccouncil.us
Ward 3 – Mary Cheh
mcheh@dccouncil.us
At-Large – Robert White Jr.
rwhite@dccouncil.us
Ward 4 – Brandon Todd
btodd@dccounil.us
Ward 5 – Kenyan McDuffie
kmcduffie@dccouncil.us
Ward 6 – Charles Allen
callen@dccounil.us
Ward 7 – Vincent Gray
vgray@dccouncil.us
Ward 8 – Trayon White
twhite@dccouncil.us

Thank you in advance for taking the time to encourage increased funding for these valuable city-wide programs!

2017 Annual Fundraiser

Join members and friends of the DC Preservation League to celebrate its crucial role as the leading advocate for the preservation and protection of the irreplaceable historic resources in the District of Columbia. Revenue from tickets and sponsorships bolster DCPL’s ability to advocate for the preservation, protection, and enhancement of Washington’s historic and cultural resources. In addition, these funds will help underwrite DCPL’s outreach and educational programming throughout our community.             

Click here for tickets! | Click here to sponsor!

Thank You to Our Sponsors!

Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP
Bonstra | Haresign ARCHITECTS
Clark Construction Group, LLC
Eric Colbert & Associates, PC
Dentons US LLP
Kindy French
GCS | SIGAL
Quinn Evans Architects
Roadside Development
The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company
Winmar Construction

Shalom Baranes Associates
EastBanc
The JBG Companies
Lincoln Property Company
Long View Gallery
PN Hoffman
Wagner Roofing Company
Juliet Zucker, Long & Foster Real Estate

Fay Armstrong
Ballard Spahr LLP
Boston Properties
John DeFerrari and Susan Decker
EYP Architecture & Engineering
Federal City Caterers, Inc.
First Potomac Realty Trust
Grossberg, Yockelson, Fox & Beyda. LLP
Grunley Construction Company, Inc.
Keast & Hood
Donald Beekman Myer, FAIA
National Trust Community Investment Corporation
Ruben Companies
U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation

Support DCPL with a Year-End Gift

 ‘Tis the season for charitable giving and we hope DCPL makes your list! Donations from members and other supporters are crucial to DCPL’s work as they underwrite efforts to:
  • identify historic buildings, neighborhoods, and cultural sites that should be preserved under the DC Preservation Act;
  • offer a variety of educational programming that informs the community about preservation; and
  • advocate for sound historic preservation policy at the local and federal levels.
DCPL is a 501(c)(3) organization and all year-end gifts are tax-deductible.

Thank you in advance for your generosity!

2019 District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation

preservationawards-11822Since 2003, the Historic Preservation Office has sponsored the District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation. These awards honor outstanding preservation projects and exceptional contributions by individuals and organizations in support of historic preservation in the District.

Upcoming Awards

Nominate your own project or one you admire! The next awards program will take place in May 2017. The ONLINE APPLICATION  is due November 16, 2018. An Instructions Guide is attached below.

Past Awards Programs

District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation

preservationawards-11822Since 2003, the Historic Preservation Office has sponsored the District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation. These awards honor outstanding preservation projects and exceptional contributions by individuals and organizations in support of historic preservation in the District.

Upcoming Awards

Nominate your own project or one you admire! The next awards program will take place in May 2017. The ONLINE APPLICATION  is due November 18, 2016. An Instructions Guide is attached below.

Past Awards Programs

2016 Annual Membership Meeting

 

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Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia
2129 Wyoming Avenue, NW
Thursday, November 10, 2016
6:30 – 8:30pm

6:30pm Program | Reception to Follow

Join us for the Annual Membership Meeting & Reception on November 10th!

Free to Members
Non Members – $55.00 (Fee includes one-year individual membership)

Space is limited! Registration is required.

Click here to register for the 2016 Annual Membership Meeting.

Sponsored in Part By: