Finis for the Shotgun House? Or Not?
Demolition Could Clear Way for Development on 1200 Block of PA Avenue, SE
by Larry Janezich
Tuesday night, a peeved ANC6B, endorsed the concept of a raze permit for the long-preserved historic Shotgun House at 1229 E Street, SE. The commission was clearly unhappy with owner Larry Quillian who bought the property in 1985 and, in the eyes of the ANC and many in the community, has connived to raze the property for redevelopment using “demolition by neglect” – letting a property which is protected under historic preservation law become a danger and nuisance to the community until Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) has little choice other than to let it be demolished. Quillian came with an engineer’s report in hand, which told HPRB that it would not be safe to make the repairs to the roof which HPRB had ordered him to make. Commissioner Dave Garrison called the case a “poster child for demolition by neglect.”
The motion to endorse the concept of the raze permit carried language encouraging HPRB to make the raze conditional both on holding Quillian accountable for demolition by neglect and upon yet-to-be-determined restitution to the community for the loss of a historic structure. The motion passed 9 – 0. Any future plan for the development of the site will come back before the ANC as a historic preservation – and perhaps – a zoning issue.
The structure – so named because a shot could be fired through the front door and pass unhindered out the back door – is common throughout the South by rarely found on Capitol Hill.
Gary Peterson of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board of Directors, said it would be safe to assume that CHRS would oppose the raze concept. HPRB will consider the case at its June 26 or July 10 meeting.
Owner Larry Quinlan bought the shotgun house in 1985, along with some ten townhouses behind the property in the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, just east of the CVS. Those lots now sit behind a plywood barrier and last Fall Frager’s announced plans to erect a 5800 temporary structure on them. Those plans have since been abandoned.
The Shotgun House has been standing in the way of development of the lots and Quillian has been trying for decades to circumvent the preservation laws which prevent its demolition. Quillian also owns numerous properties on Barracks Row and the 600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, including the legendary Mr. Henry’s.