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.

2010 Most Endangered Places

Anne Archbold Hall

19th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, NE (Reservation 13)
DC Inventory of Historic Sites (2006)
Nominated by: Capitol Hill Restoration Society

Anne Archbold Hall was constructed in 1931-1932 as the Nurses’ Residence for Gallinger Municipal Hospital. Located in Southeast Washington on Public Reservation 13, Gallinger Municipal Hospital (later renamed D.C. General Hospital) was established by Congress in 1917 to serve the District of Columbia’s poor. The Nurses’ Residence was first envisioned in the 1921 plan for the hospital prepared by Municipal Architect Snowden Ashford, but the stately U-shaped brick building with limestone trim was designed under the supervision of his successor, Albert L. Harris. The building is significant as the last intact example of the hospital’s major Colonial Revival buildings. It was renamed Anne Archbold Hall in 1952 in honor of the local philanthropist and advocate for the hospital’s nurses and patients.

DCPL listed Anne Archbold Hall on its Most Endangered Places List in 2002 and 2003. At the time, a redevelopment plan for Reservation 13 called for the removal of all of the hospital buildings, including Anne Archbold Hall. In response to the demolition threat, DCPL and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society successfully nominated Anne Archbold Hall to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in 2006. In response to its designation, the plan for Reservation 13 was revised to include the former Nurses’ Residence as the focal point of the development’s residential component. In the ensuing years, however, the proposed development plans have languished and the corresponding rehabilitation of the building never materialized. Vacant for the past decade, Anne Archibold suffers from deferred maintenance and water damage. Unless the District government takes to secure and stabilize the building, its potential role in any future redevelopment plans for Reservation 13 could be compromised.

The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church

1518 M Street, NW
DC Inventory of Historic Sites (1973)
National Register of Historic Places (1973)
Nominated by: Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church

The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church located at 1518 M Street, N.W. is home to Washington DC’s oldest African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) congregation. Designed by architect Samuel G. T. Morsell, the Gothic style brick building has been a bastion of civil and human rights since its dedication on May 30, 1886. The Metropolitan Church was founded in 1838 to minister to the spiritual needs of Washington DC’s African American population. Like its parent domination, the Metropolitan Church was rooted in opposition to slavery and the belief that African Americans were entitled to equality. A.M.E. members throughout the nation contributed funds to construct the Metropolitan Church. Their gifts are memorialized in Gothic building’s majestic stained glass windows, which document the growth of the A.M.E. denomination during the nineteenth century. The church’s parishioners have included leading members of Washington D.C.’s African American community, including Frederick Douglass, whose funeral services were held at the church. Known as “the National Cathedral of African Methodism,” the building continues to play an important role in the spiritual life of Washington, D.C.

The 125-year-old Metropolitan A.M.E. Church is in need of extensive repairs and renovation. The building’s exterior walls suffer from structural cracks and water infiltration and outdated mechanical systems are taxing the already limited financial resources of the congregation. The original stained glass windows are also deteriorating. In the face of these challenges, the 1100-member congregation recently began a capital campaign to raise funds to remove, restore, and reinstall the stained glass windows. By listing the Metropolitan Church on the Most Endangered Places List, the DC Preservation League aims to marshal the expertise and resources of the preservation community to assist in the congregation’s efforts.

District of Columbia Historic Firehouses

Many individually listed in the DC Inventory of Historic Places or contributing to a Historic District
Nominated by: Sally Berk and D. Peter Sefton

The designers of DC’s historic firehouses include prominent Washington DC architects such as Leon Dessez and the firms of Wood, Donn, and Deming, and Hornblower and Marshall, as well as the Office of the Municipal Architect under Snowden Ashford, Albert Harris, and Nathan Wyeth. These architects designed the firehouses as landmarks for their respective neighborhoods. It is testimony to the quality of their designs and craftsmanship that firehouses like Engine Company 22 on Georgia Avenue, NW have remained in productive use for more than 100 years. In recognition of their significance as works of public architecture, several firehouses have been designated historic sites or listed as contributing buildings in historic districts.

Despite protections under the historic preservation ordinance, many historic DC firehouses are still at risk. Some de-accessioned firehouses are the victim of long-term neglect, delayed rehabilitation efforts, or ill-advised alterations. Firehouses in active use are also at risk of unsympathetic modernization plans. The DC Preservation League listed pre-World War II Firehouses on the 1999 Most Endangered Places List. More than a decade later, the DC Preservation League hopes to refocus attention on these important works of public architecture and ward against the complacent assumption that historic firehouses are too self-evidently significant to be insensitively remodeled, or that designated landmarks are invulnerable to neglect or harm.

2228, 2234, 2238 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE AND 2253 MOUNT VIEW PLACE, SE

Contributing Buildings within the Anacostia Historic District
DC Inventory of Historic Sites (1973)
National Register of Historic Places (1978)
Nominated by: Historic Anacostia Block Association and David Garber, Anacostia Resident

These contributing buildings within the Anacostia Historic District are rare examples of prosperous single-family detached houses in this section of Anacostia that date from around the turn of the twentieth century. Currently in poor condition, the houses located along Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE are currently for sale and could potentially be demolished to clear way for commercial uses. The house located on Mount View Place, SE was previously listed in 2005, and in the subsequent 5 years, has deteriorated further and has had its front porch removed.

Representative examples of demolition by neglect, the owners of these structures are ignoring their responsibility to maintain, repair, and secure the buildings which has resulted in the deterioration of the exterior features and loss of structural integrity. This neglect has also added blight to the surrounding neighborhood.

Located in Southeast Washington, the Anacostia Historic District contains 550 buildings dating from 1854-1930. It encompasses the area originally known as Uniontown, one of Washington’s earliest suburbs, which was incorporated in 1854.
The DC Preservation League will partner with the Historic Anacostia Block Association and residents of Anacostia to refocus attention on these important resources. DCPL will also seek to work with the property owners to stabilize these structures, fulfill their obligation of basic maintenance, and return these properties to productive use.