Monday, July 15, 2013

a Meridian Hill Historic District ...?

This is just FYI -- from the New Columbia Heights blog:

Friday, July 12, 2013


Meridian Hill Historic District: coming soon to a Meridian Hill near you?


Are you historic? This week there was a brief presentation at the ANC 1A meeting about an effort to declare the area around Meridian Hill Park a historic district. The idea would be to preserve a lot of the historic buildings there, places like the Josephine Butler Parks Center (pictured above in an old painting), current and former embassies on 15th and 16th Street, historic churches and apartment buildings, many from the 1950s or earlier, and Meridian Hill Park itself. (John F. Kennedy and his sister lived in apartment 502 or 542 in the Dorchester House, for example.)

The area was largely developed by Mary Henderson and her husband Sen. John Henderson, who wanted it to become Embassy Row, and even hoped the White House would move there. They were partially successful in the first, as there were and still are a fair amount of Embassies here, mostly Latin American (and as you may recall, Fidel Castro was at the park in the 60s visiting the Cuban Embassy, now the Swiss Embassy's Cuban Interest Section.) The Hendersons also built the huge Henderson Castle on 16th north of Florida. The castle is no longer there, but the red stone battlements and towers along 16th Street are a legacy of that.

There weren't really any questions from the crowd, and the ANC voted unanimously to approve a resolution supporting it. I was actually surprised nobody complained, since if you're in a historic district there are additional "historic review" rules about renovations, construction, additions and such. However, looking at the actual borders of the proposed district (see below) there are very few single-family homes in it.

The ANC also has a Powerpoint on the district, which you can download here. It has a few points as to why you should designate a historic area and why is historic review important?
Why Designate?
•Maintains Community Character and Sense of Place
•Promotes Rehabilitation and Restoration
•Allows for Community Involvement in Managing Change
•Promotes Civic Pride 
Why Historic Review?
•Helps to Ensure Compatibility with the Historic Character of the District
•Minimizes the Loss of Historic Building Materials and Fabric
•Helps Maintain Important Views
In short, I hope this goes through, as there is certainly a lot worth preserving. I'm not sure the actual process, the city's website  isn't very clear on it, but I imagine it includes the Office of Planning and city's Historic Preservation Review Board.

2 comments:

  1. How would Bloomingdale residents and ANC 5E respond to a pursuit of historic designation for Bloomingdale ?

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  2. Not well, lived in 3 different home on the Hill in historic districts. Saw a neighbor who was forced to remove new deck not visible from street, saw another neighbor give up trying to replace drafty single pane windows because they couldn't get approval for reasonably priced wooden windows. Decided the 300/month gas bills for 2 bdr house would just have to happen. Later just sold the house. So many restrictions and so many hindrance for just doing little things like replacing a gate, not a fence a gate. When I sold one of my homes lost an offer when buyer found out area was historic district. They had lived in GT under one and refused to ever do it again. Once it is on it is very hard to roll back.

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