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Arriving in the inbox this morning is notice that a historic landmark nomination application has been filed for the Lincoln Playground Field House, one of the little red brick buildings just to the east of Van Ness Elementary on L Street, SE at the Joy Evans Recreation Center site.
It was built in 1934, and the application's "Statement of Significance Summary Paragraph" (page 10 of 30) is probably the best place to go for the explanation:
"The Lincoln Playground field house qualifies for listing in the National Register under Criterion C as a good example of the city's recreational buildings, designed according to an established building type during the tenure of Municipal Architect Albert Harris (1921-1933). The field house, designed in the Colonial Revival style followed a standard plan for field houses from that period. The Lincoln Playground field house remains a notable example of its type and is the product of Municipal Architect Albert L. Harris, whose work is closely identified with civic architecture in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, it is the only example of this type located outside of NW Washington -- in this case, located in SE -- the only example constructed entirely of brick, and the only example constructed on a "colored" playground during the period when Washington playgrounds were segregated. It is also one of two examples of this type constructed as a Civil Works Administration project.
"The Lincoln Playground field house retains its integrity of location, setting, design, craftsmanship, materials, feeling and association. The field house is a purpose-built recreational structure of the District of Columbia; it was constructed according to an established design model and embodies characteristics illustrating the evolution of recreational architecture in the District; it stands on its original site; and it retains its original building massing and materials."
There's considerable additional detail in the filing, if you are looking for more. Note that the other two smaller red brick buildings surrounding the playground are not part of the application.
The application was filed by Kent Boese on behalf of "Historic Washington Architecture," the same group that prepared a similar application in 2011 for the Market Deli at 1st and L, which was eventually rejected.
This now goes through the city's landmarking process. The fact that this was filed at about the same time that the plans are going forward for renovating Van Ness Elementary right next door would seem to be more than a coincidence, but I have no background on this yet. Once an application is accepted by the city's Historic Preservation Office, the building becomes protected, and no building permits can be issued for the building until the Historic Preservation Review Board votes on the application.
(In case you're wondering, the overhead photo showing the building in question at lower right was taken in 2007 from the roof of the Old Capper Seniors building, just before it was demolished.)
Comments (4)
More posts: lincolnplayground, preservation, Van Ness Elementary
 

I'm a week or so behind on this, but, honestly, I've moved slowly because I just can't believe that only now is the beautiful Beaux Arts WASA O Street Pumping Station being moved through the city's historic landmark designation process.
But it's true, and on Jan. 26 the Historic Preservation Review Board voted 8-0 to designate the 1907 building a landmark to be entered into DC's Inventory of Historic Sites. Then, after being "enhanced by additional research and context," it will be forwarded to the National Register of Historic Places.
The staff recommendation report describes the building, designed by local architect Clement A. Didden, as "an example of a high-style public works project and ... a premier example of Beaux Arts architecture and an important manifestation of the City Beautiful Movement." If you have spent much time looking at it, my refreshed DC Water page has photos from many angles (except inside!).
The first few minutes of the hearing actually are very much worth watching if you want to learn about the building's history and architecture. (Kind of like getting a building tour without going inside.) And it was good to see a representative of DC Water testify that it "stands ready to help" the landmarking: "we are proud of this beautiful building and its prominence on the waterfront." The staff recommendation report gives more information about the application, and you can even wander through the original 2005 (!?!) application.
This was not the only action taken in regards to the Pumping Station, however. DC Water needs to build two new structures--the Shaft Structure and the Tide Gate Structure--on the building's north side (facing Tingey Street) as part of the DC Clean Rivers/Combined Sewer Overflow project. Unfortunately, there are no drawings of these designs in the HPRB's staff report, but there are some descriptions, indicating that DC Water and city staff have worked to make them smaller and placed farther apart from each other to lessen the impact on the view of the main building from Tingey. "Overall, staff believes the new structures have been designed to be as compatible as possible with the Main Pumping Station given the significant design constraints." The conceptual designs were approved by HPRB 7-0. (You can watch that part of the hearing, too, should you wish.)
That wasn't the only neighborhood decision on the board's agenda. The HPRB also approved on its consent calendar Forest City's plans for rehabbing the Lumber Shed at the Yards Park, about which I've written much during its trip through the ANC and Zoning processes.
The board did request that Forest City work "to develop and incorporate interpretive signage for the site that will feature historic photographs of the Lumber Shed and narrative information about the history of the structure."
Hope they include shots of its salmon-colored glory days!
Comments (2)
More posts: Lumber Shed/Yards, preservation, DC Water (WASA), The Yards
 

ANC 6D has sent around (and posted! yay!) the agenda for its January meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 9 at 7 pm at 1100 4th St., SW in DCRA's second-floor meeting room.
The Near Southeast items of interest could mostly be looked at as sneak previews, or perhaps as items that could be missed if you are better able to fit other upcoming meetings into your calendar (especially, if, say, you were looking for an escape hatch because you'd kinda rather be watching the BCS championship):
* There's a M Street SE/SW Transportation Study agenda item, in advance of the DDOT public meeting on the study coming three days later, on Jan. 12;
* There's an update on Capitol Riverfront BID doings, in advance of the BID's annual meeting three days later, on Jan. 12; and
* There's the application for historic landmark status for the DC Water main pumping station, which will be heard by the Historic Preservation Review Board at its January 26 meeting.
There's also an update on the ANC 6D redistricting outcome, various Southwest-related items (including the big Maryland Avenue SW Draft Plan, and whatnot. And, since it's the first meeting of the new year, there will also be the election of commission officers.
 

The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D December meeting is now available (and actually posted on their web site, too!). My hopes for a pre-holiday pass from this have been dashed, though, since there are a number of Near Southeast items on the agenda:
* There is an application pending for landmark designation for the historic 1905 DC Water Main Pumping Station, to which I'm sure we all say, "What do you mean it isn't already designated?"
* CSX will give an update on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel NEPA process. (Or you can just read my summary of last week's public scoping meeting.)
* The new partners in the RiverFront/Florida Rock project will be giving a presentation on their new zoning filing, which I'll be writing more on shortly.
* There's also going to be an update(?) on the long-desired Maine Avenue/M Street comprehensive traffic study, which we haven't heard much about in a while.
You can check the agenda for the other items. (it's a pretty long lineup. Yay. As always, December seems to be the ZOMG WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING portion of the year, not just for ANCs but throughout the development/bureaucratic sphere.) The meeting is at 7 pm in the DCRA offices on the 2nd floor of 1100 4th St., SW.
 

Today the Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to support the recommendation of preservation office staff, rejecting the historic landmark application for the Market Deli on the northeast corner of 1st and L streets, SE.
The staff recommendation seemed to be the primary driver of the board members' votes (with most board members having little comment on the application beyond "I support the staff recommendation"). Its author, Tim Dennee, reiterated its main points in his testimony, saying that while it would have been a good idea to keep the building maintained, the lack of underlying historic merit beyond the building representing the other old structures in the neighborhood that are gone does not allow the Market Deli to rise to the level of a landmark. There was also a lot of discussion about how the neighborhood "context" that would have allowed for a better understanding of the Deli's place in the history of the area is already gone, with so many buildings having already been demolished.
Testifying in the support of the nomination was ANC 6D07 rep David Garber, who said he ran for the position because "there's such a clear opportunity in this neighborhood to develop something great." He described himself as "100 percent in favor of development in most cases," but feels that the Market Deli represents a "common building type for common people" and that "what's remarkable about the Market Deli is that it's unremarkable." Also testifying was Hayden Wetzel, who said he prepared at the application at Garber's request and who echoed Garber's comments by saying that it's a "sweet and pretty little building" and that the "ordinariness of the building speaks for itself." He said that he formed a task force within the DC Preservation League in 2000 to consider the buildings in the area, but that it didn't result in much interest.
Six people testified in opposition: three residents, Dodd Walker of Akridge (the owners of the building), Michael Stevens of the BID, and a woman hired by Akridge (whose name and affiliation I unfortunately missed) to investigate the building's history. Much of what was said by the residents, Stevens, and Walker were variations on comments made the ANC meeting and in the Memorandum in Opposition that was presented to the board with 39 co-signers. With concerns about how an ANC's position is given "great weight," resident Kitty Loyd focused her testimony on the ANC vote a few weeks ago, contending that Garber should have recused himself since he expressed an interest in saving this building before he became commissioner. (Loyd also apparently printed out the JDLand Market Deli comment threads to give to the board, so you're all famous.) Both Michael Stevens and resident Adam Hall mentioned their feelings that there wasn't enough of a public process followed by Garber in submitting this application, while Hall also said that the building "gives the neighborhood a dangerous feel" because of the neglect.
Stevens also took time to list all the historic buildings in the neighborhood that are still in existence (from the Navy Yard to the Blue Castle to the beaux arts WASA Pumping Plant to the buildings being redeveloped at the Yards, as well as the private homes and businesses along 3rd, K, L, Potomac, and lower 8th). He also mentioned the 10 to 12 years of planning and analysis (and studies) by city agencies starting in the late 90s that have gone into the remaking of Near Southeast, back before the demolition of so many properties--"would this history not have been discovered then?"
There was also a detailed (some might also describe it as "long") presentation from Akridge's historic preservation consultant about the history of the building, which apparently suffered a pretty serious fire in 1921 and appears to have been pretty well gutted at that time. Those who've never seen the interior of the Market Deli might be interested in seeing her presentation, which will be available when HPRB posts the video of the hearing sometime on Friday.
There were few questions during the hearing from the board members, and, in the end, only chair Catherine Buell seemed anything less than fully supportive of the staff recommendation. She called it a "tough case," and said that she would like to see preservation plans and multiproperty listings done for the area (beyond just the "windshield survey" done by the Office of Planning back around the time of the ballpark). But in the end, saying that she didn't think the building was eligible for landmark status and that the ANC's comments (which are to be given "great weight") didn't really speak to the board's criteria, she called for a vote, and the board voted unanimously.
This was followed by a quick secondary vote on the Deli: the raze permit application for the building was also on the agenda, in the event that the landmark application was approved. Because it wasn't, the board voted to support the staff recommendation that says the board no longer has jurisdiction over the property, and so the "city's issuance of a raze permit may proceed without further preservation review."
And that would seem to bring this matter to a close. Just after the hearing, Garber tweeted: "I'm glad there was a chance for discussion on the matter, and I look forward to helping approve new plans to bring vibrancy to the site."
Comments (13)
More posts: marketdeli, meetings, preservation
 

The staff recommendation to the Historic Preservation Review Board on the application for historic landmark status for the Market Deli has just been posted, and the gist is right at the top: "After careful consideration, staff recommends that the Historic Preservation Review Board not designate the property at 1024 1st Street, SE (Square 740, Lot 802) nor that it forward the application to the National Register of Historic Places with a recommendation for listing."
Recognizing that the argument that as a "building type becomes scarcer in a neighborhood, it takes on the role of representing the whole class of similar buildings that has been lost" is not a "frivolous" one, the staff report nonetheless says that "to accept such an argument absolutely or uncritically would set an unacceptably low bar for significance and thus, designation." It goes on to discuss the history and historical context of the building, as well as the building type, not finding that the structure rises to the level of landmarking in any of the areas.
It then summarizes: "The Board has previously rejected nominations for properties that have been merely typical of their neighborhoods, taking the position that, by definition, these do not rise to the level of landmarks worthy of notoriety. In this case, the nomination and the resource itself do not demonstrate that they are sufficiently associated with historical periods or patterns of growth that have contributed significantly to the development of the District."
You can read my initial entry on the landmark nomination for more background; it was championed by ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber, and supported by ANC 6D, but sparked a pretty vociferous backlash from some neighbors, as can be seen in the comments on those entries. (I hope to have the Memorandum in Opposition prepared by some of these neighbors soon.)
The hearing by the board itself on the landmark designation takes place Thursday, April 28, so this is not yet a done deal; this is merely the staff's recommendation. There will be plenty of people testifying on both sides, I imagine. (At least it's first up on the agenda, at 10 am.)
(PS: I'm not sure that the staff document as posted is complete; I'm only seeing two pages, and it seems to not really "conclude." Will see if a revised version pops up.)
UPDATE: Here is the very detailed Memorandum in Opposition submitted by a group of neighbors; unfortunately there's no credit line as to who submitted it, and the names of the undersigned aren't included.
Comments (24)
More posts: marketdeli, preservation, zoning
 

ANC 6D voted on Monday night to support the historic landmark nomination of the old Market Deli at 1st and L, lending their "great weight" to the application to save the wood-framed building constructed in 1885, which 6D07 commissioner David Garber (who helped prepare the nomination) has described as being the only remaining wood frame corner store in existence south of the freeway.
In moving the motion, Garber mentioned "vocal" support both for and against the nomination; two of the three 6D07 residents in the audience who spoke to the issue were against saving the building, with the third supporting it as long as it doesn't mean the building will just sit there in its current state (all of them live in the Velocity condo building across the street). Also speaking from the audience was an employee of Akridge (Dodd Walker a Mr. Walker, whose first name I didn't catch), which now owns the lot. He indicated that Akridge is not in favor of this nomination, and mentioned that there were surveys done of historic buildings in the neighborhood back when the ballpark was first proposed that went through the Historic Preservation Office and the DC Preservation League, and there was no move at that time to landmark the building. (I should note that I do not recall any studies like this, but if they happened anytime before 2006 I was not steeped enough in the city's planning and preservation processes to have necessarily been aware of them.)
Commissioner Roger Moffatt was unhappy that the Akridge rep didn't bring any copies of these reports, and Garber was skeptical that they existed at all (referring to "these supposed reports"). Commissioner Andy Litsky felt that if these reports are available, the ANC should be able to study them in order to have more information before taking a vote that would throw the fabled great weight of the commission behind the application.
Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID spoke to agree with Litsky, saying that the commission should take time to look at all the available information, and that perhaps a community meeting to discuss the nomination should be scheduled (if the Historic Preservation Review Board could postpone the April 28 hearing). Stevens also mentioned that he was historic preservation officer for the city of Dallas for five years, shepherding many landmarking cases through the city's process, and that he does not believe that the Market Deli would qualify for landmarking status.
[Adding this after initial posting, because I missed it in my notes but didn't want to not include it.] Commissioner Ron McBee mentioned that he knows of one restaurant (unnamed) that is interested in buying the building, which would speed the process of getting the corner perked up (since as of now Akridge has no immediate plans to develop this site). McBee also said that he's not a historian, and would vote the motion forward so that the Historic Preservation Review Board could act on the nomination.
In the end, the commission voted 5-0-2 to support the nomination, with commissioners Litsky and Bob Craycraft abstaining.
The Historic Preservation Review Board will hear this nomination on April 28--the staff recommendation on the nomination should be available on the HPRB web site on April 22. I'm also trying to track down the studies mentioned at tonight's meeting.
If you're just joining us, this nomination has already sparked some pretty, ahem, spirited debate. You can see the application, along with the HPRB hearing notice, and read about the city's landmark designation process.
(I'll have more from the 6D meeting over the next few days, but figured I'd start with the item that is probably of most interest.)
[UPDATED here and there to clean up some messiness.]
UPDATE II: According to a source I've talked to in the Office of Planning, apparently the survey referenced by Mr. Walker of Akridge was an informal ("windshield") survey done of buildings in the ballpark area by the Historic Preservation Office to look for any buildings that might be candidates for landmark designation, and no written documentation was created.
Comments (27)
More posts: ANC News, marketdeli, meetings, preservation
 

A Historic Landmark nomination was submitted on Friday for the Market Deli at 1st and L SE, according to 6D07 rep David Garber. Calling the nomination "potentially controversial" (perhaps remembering this comment thread from a few months ago), Garber says: "I am 100% pro-development, but stand by my support of this because I think saving pieces of our history will make our neighborhood stronger and more valuable in the end."
He describes the "humble" building as the only remaining wood frame corner store in existence south of the freeway. (The brick building next door, where the Market Deli operated in the last few years of its existence, is not part of the nomination.) He also says it "represents the scale and the history that our neighborhood had for most of its history until very recently." He also says that he did not submit the nomination himself, though helped prepare it (but doesn't say who did submit).
The building, constructed in 1885, is currently owned by Akridge (along with the rest of the block's frontage along 1st Street). There has been no public information on what Akridge plans to do with the block, but raze permits were filed for the Market Deli building(s) and the other buildings on the north end of the block earlier this year, which presumably is what kick-started this move. You can read about the city's Historic Landmark designation process at the Historic Preservation Office's web site. Readers may recall that the St. Paul's church at 4th and I received a landmark designation in November.
A slew of photos showing the Deli unchanging in the face of nearby development can be seen in my archive.
UPDATE, 3/7: Here is the nomination form, submitted by Hayden Wetzel of "Historic Washington Architecture."
UPDATE, 3/11: The hearing date at the Historic Preservation Review Board has been set for April 28; here's the hearing notice.
Comments (14)
More posts: marketdeli, preservation, square 740
 

"After careful consideration," the staff of the city's Historic Preservation Review Board has recommended that St. Paul's African Union Methodist Protestant Church at 4th and I, SE, be designated a District of Columbia landmark, and also that the application be forwarded to the National Park Service for listing in the US's National Register of Historic Places.
The staff recommendation report gives a lot of good history about the church, some of which I mentioned in last week's post on ANC 6D supporting the church's application. It was built in 1924, and was the first church designed by R.C. Archer, Jr., Washington's second licensed African American architect. The report also says that the church is significant "as the very modest place of worship of an early twentieth-century, working-class, African-American community in the industrial environment surrounding Washington's Navy Yard," and mentions that the building has survived not one but two "substantial community razing and redevelopment projects" (the original construction of the Cappers in the 1940s and 1950s, and their current demolition and redevelopment) and is now one of the few historic buildings left in the neighborhood.
It's the church's working-class roots that in some ways have made this historic designation possible, because their lack of funds has meant that very little renovation has been done to the building since it was constructed, leaving it with most of its original (i.e., historic) materials intact. But, if the church receives its historic designation, it will then be eligible for some grants to allow for historically accurate renovations that would be done with the guidance and approval of the Office of Planning.
The Historic Preservation Review Board will vote on this application at its meeting on Thursday (Nov. 18) at 9 am. You can see the application documents here (cellphone pics).
Comments (0)
More posts: Capper, preservation, St. Paul's Church
 

From the world of ANC 6D:
* The commission voted 7-0 to support the historic designation application of St. Paul's AUMP Church at 401 I St., SE, thanks in no small part to Pastor Karen Mills, who charmed the pants off the assembled commissioners and audience with a display of good humor sorely needed after some earlier rancorous exchanges discussing Southwest Waterfront issues.
The church was built in 1924, and apparently the years of having a congregation that didn't have a lot of money ended up being a good thing: because there have been few renovations, the church's facade and bricks are still from the original construction, making it a far better candidate for a historic designation than other churches which have had work done. The church is also notable for being the first church designed by R.C. Archer Jr., who was only the second licensed African American architect in DC. Once the church receives its historic designation, it will then be eligible for some grants to allow for historically accurate and preservation-approved renovations. (The photo above shows the church in 2007, when it stood alone after the demolition of the Cappers and before the start of Capitol Quarter construction.)
The church was approached for this application by the DC Preservation League, and the hearing before the city's Historic Preservation Review Board is scheduled for Nov. 18 at 9 am. You can see the information forwarded to the ANC about the application here (shot with my phone's camera, so not of particularly high quality, but it made me feel like a secret agent!). One other educational tidbit: "AUMP" stands for "African Union Methodist Protestant."
Pastor Mills also said that anyone who wants to come see St. Paul's is more than welcome to visit. And so it is with great shame that I admit that I have never been inside of the little church I've photographed so many times --I've always been worried that I would burst into the flames of eternal hellfire the second I stepped inside the doors, and I didn't want the poor little church to get singed as a result of my sins. But I'm now determined to give it a shot anyway.
* CSX/Virginia Avenue Tunnel: Stephen Flippin of CSX gave a(nother) update on the status of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project. While CSX had applied for a $3 million grant under USDOT's TIGER II program to help pay for the NEPA process for the project, they didn't get that funding, so the process got delayed by a couple of months. They are now looking to have the first "public scoping meeting" in January, which would include information booths, audience comments and questions, etc. There would then be a 30-day comment period, followed by an "alternatives" meeting probably in March, then another comment period followed by probably five or six months of work with their design/build team before coming back to another public meeting for a full update on the project. After that, they would need a few months with their designers before construction could begin, which puts the earliest possible starting time for the project somewhere around the spring of 2012. (Definitely not a date written in stone.)
There's also the issue that funding for the tunnel project itself hasn't been secured, and so CSX is looking at various public financing possibilities (transportation reauthorization act, funding from other states in the National Gateway) as well as -- gasp! -- using some of their own money, or at least money they received for other parts of the Gateway that they haven't spent.
Beyond this update on the process, there's no new information on the construction itself, and there pretty much won't be until after the NEPA process is done.
* 11th Street Bridges: There was also an overview and status report on the 11th Street Bridges project; I'm hoping to get the slides that were shown, so I'll hold off on writing about that. If in the meantime you have 9 or 10 free hours and want to delve into all the environmental impact studies that were done for the bridge project (which include traffic estimations among many other things), here's the Environmental Impact Statement and other associated documents. UPDATE: Here's my writeup of the slides.
* Near SE/SW Combined Traffic Study: During a discussion about pedestrian safety issues at 4th and M, SW, commissioner Andy Litsky reiterated his long-standing complaint that no traffic study has been undertaken to look at Near SE and SW together, and that it continues to be sorely needed. Naomi Mitchell of Tommy Wells's office then spoke up that Tommy is ready to help the ANC finally get this study done. (And there was much rejoicing.)
* Half Street Closures: Apparently the city is planning to move legislation that would allow for the closing of Half Street, SE, between M and N during all events at Nationals Park with more than 5,000 attendees, instead of the current set-up where it's only closed during Nationals games. This would include recent events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure opening ceremonies and last Saturday's Greater Washington Region Start! Heart Walk.
 
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