Restoration Society Hears Recommendations for Major Expansion of Capitol Hill Historic District
by Larry Janezich
EHT Traceries, a local architectural history firm hired by the Board of Directors of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, has endorsed incorporation of two areas into the Capitol Hill Historic District and on March 8, and is likely to endorse a third.
On January 19, the firm made a public presentation on their survey of the near-Northeast area lying just outside the historic district. This was the second of three presentations, all part of the Society’s Beyond the Boundaries program, which “seeks to promote the appreciation of neighborhood history and support historic preservation efforts outside the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Historic District.” The project is funded by a settlement reached several years ago with the Louis Dreyfuss Property Group (some $83,000), as mitigation for the demolition of twelve historic buildings in the way of the new Dreyfuss development between H and G and 2nd and 3rd Streets, NE,.
The near-Northeast survey included the area adjacent to the H Street commercial corridor, roughly between 2nd and 15th Streets, and from H to F Streets, NE.
In the presentation, Traceries presented a strong case for inclusion of an almost four block area adjacent to the north boundary of the Historic District – bounded by 2nd and 4th and F and H Streets, NE – though only parts of the blocks fronting H Street commercial corridor would be included.
“…the expanded area most closely parallels the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century development of Capitol Hill and especially the progression of the squares that form the northern boundary of the current Capitol Hill Historic District.
The original justification for terminating the Capitol Hill Historic District along F Street, N.E. was purely for topographical reasons because F Street is representative as the bottom of Capitol Hill. However, it is clearly illustrated that the Historic District and Boundary Increase share a common architectural thread, demonstrated by two- and three-story rowhouses, with varying rectangular and canted projecting bays and designed in the popular Victorian-era architectural styles of the day. Because the residential architecture of Capitol Hill is its most visible identifier and strong characteristic, it can be determined that the Boundary Increase clearly belongs as part of the current Capitol Hill Historic District.” (emphasis mine)
Traceries notes that their survey is limited to the architecture, allowing for understanding neighborhood development. The firm recommends completion of all survey phases and that a historic context study be prepared before any final recommendation is made for extending the Capitol Hill Historic District.
Similarly, on November 10, 2010, in a public presentation on a survey of the area outside the Historic District to the Southeast, bounded by East Capitol and L Streets and 13th and 19th Streets, SE, Traceries noted their study allowed for an understanding of neighborhood development but not the historic context. “Thus it is recommended that a historic context study be prepared before any recommendations for an historic district can be made.
Yet, based on the architectural development and its current physical integrity, the preliminary determination is that an historic district can and should be created that represents the Capitol Hill Southeast neighborhood.” (emphasis mine)
The aforementioned historic context study incorporation for both the Northeast and Southeast survey areas will be done in March 2011.
The third and final Traceries presentation will focus on the Northeast area between 15th and 19th Streets and Benning Road and East Capitol Street. Rosedale lies within these boundaries and the upcoming March 8th presentation will be co-sponsored by the Rosedale Citizens’ Alliance and CHRS. If past is precedent, it’s likely the presentation will include an endorsement for extending the Historic Distract to encompass part or all of this area.
The meeting will be on Tuesday, March 8, 2011, from 6:15pm – 8:00pm at the Rosedale Recreation Center, 500 19th Street, NE.
PDF versions of both the previous presentations are on the CHRS website at http://www.chrs.org.