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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: St. Paul's Church
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3 Blog Posts Since 2003

"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).
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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.
 

In case you don't have the date circled in red on your calendar, on Monday (Nov. 8), ANC 6D will be having its regular monthly meeting, and will be making the arduous trek across South Capitol Street to meet in Near Southeast, at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, SE. The agenda has just been sent out, and there are some Near Southeast items:
* The St. Paul AUMP church at 4th and I, which has remained standing while Capper came down and Capitol Quarter rose up around it, is the subject of a Historic Landmark application, which will be heard at the Historic Preservation Review Board's meeting on Thursday, Nov. 18. I hope to have more information about it when the HPRB's full agenda and materials are available on Nov. 12, but at Monday's ANC meeting there will be a discussion of the application and presumably a vote as to whether or not to support it.
* Updates are scheduled for both the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel project and for the 11th Street Bridges.
There are also a number of Southwest-specific items, some zoning rewrites, alcohol/beverage issues, and whatnot. But it's totally not true that the agenda also includes a knife fight between all outgoing and incoming commissioners.
The meeting starts at 7 pm.
 




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