CHRS Board Moves to Help Establish New Historic Districts in Hill East
Will Consider Spending $25,000 to Complete “Beyond the Boundaries” Project
by Larry Janezich
At Tuesday night’s Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) Board meeting, the body agreed to a motion to consider adding to its 2011 budget, an amount up to $25,000 for a contextual study of the area south of H Street, NE, and east of 13th Street, down to the Anacostia River. This is the Hill East area lying outside of the Capitol Hill Historic District. The motion passed unanimously, by voice vote, with one board member, realtor Chuck Burger, abstaining.
This “context statement” would be the last step necessary to complete the CHRS “Beyond the Boundaries” project. Volunteers have completed a survey of the area, compiling a huge amount of information including pictures and descriptions of every building in over 100 squares (square blocks). EHT Traceries, the architectural history firm, was contracted to add archival information to the survey results and create a database of the information.
The process going forward involves hiring an architectural historian from a list maintained by the Historical Preservation Office, (Traceries?) who will pull together the cultural, demographic, religious, etc., data and write a “context statement” documenting how this neighborhood – or neighborhoods within the area – came about. The estimated cost to produce the context statement is $20,000.
Once this is complete, any organization such as an ANC or a civic organization within the area which desires to set up a historic district can come to the CHRS and have, as Chair Beth Purcell put it, “a historic district in a box.”
Nomination for historic district status requires submitting extensive documentation to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). CHRS will have the information needed, and while it will all be “in a box,” it will have to be reassembled in the form required for consideration by the HPRB.
The effect of agreeing to the motion will be to bring the proposed $25,000 expenditure before the board when it formulates its budget for 2011 in July. The board will have to vote again on whether to recommend the expenditure to the full CHRS membership for approval at the September CHRS membership meeting. The 2011fiscal year will begin October 1, 2010.
Earlier this year, Traceries recommended that an area in near-Northeast adjacent to the H Street commercial corridor, roughly between 2nd and 15th Streets, and from H to F Streets, NE, become part of the Capitol Hill Historic District. (See 2/16/2011 posting below). It seemed to be the consensus of the CHRS board on Tuesday night that it does not expect neighborhoods in the “Beyond the Boundaries” area to join the Capitol Hill Historic District, but rather, to form their own historic districts. A majority of those within a neighborhood must support historic status for that area. In 2010, the Barney Circle neighborhood seemed well on its way to becoming a historic district. This became a campaign issue in ANC6B09, and when an ANC candidate who opposed historic district status for Barney Circle was elected by a large margin last November, the historic district nomination was put on indefinite hold by the HPRB.