Historic Preservation Office Staff Ok’s Ebenezer Church Mechanical Parking Lifts

A cross section of one of the three-level parking structures is shown  on the left. On the right is a cross section of one of the five new townhouse rental units being built by the Church and one of the five parking spaces behind those new units.  Click to enlarge.

Historic Preservation Office Ok’s Ebenezer Church Mechanical Parking Lifts

by Larry Janezich

On Friday, the Office of Planning released the Historic Preservation Office staff report recommending that the Historic Preservation Review Board approve the concept for a curb cut and parking structures housing a mechanical lift for parking cars behind Ebenezer Methodist Church at 400 D Street, Street, SE.  The Board will consider the case on Thursday.

The staff found that the proposed curb cut will not result in parking on public space and is consistent with where an alley curb cut would be found.  The report states that while the mechanical lift is unusual, numerous new garage structures in the Historic District have been approved.  The report glosses over the question of the mechanical lift per se.  As for the structures themselves, the report says they are  consistent with other garage structures in the Historic District.  The latest concept drawings for the structures show two identical 26’ 11’ X 20 buildings instead of one 26’ X 20’ and one 34’ X 20’.

On January 9, ANC6B voted to oppose Ebenezer Church’s effort to put the 19 car mechanical parking lift behind the church at 4th and D Streets, SE.  The vote was 4 – 2 with 2 abstentions.  See CHC post on the ANC6B meeting here: http://bit.ly/2mo4ylZ

The Historic Preservation Review Board will next meet on Thursday, January 25, at 441 4th Street, NW in Room 220-South.  The Ebenezer Church case HPA 17-488 is scheduled to be heard from 3:15pm – 4:00pm.

The full text of the staff report is as follows:



Landmark/District: Capitol Hill Historic District (X) Agenda

Address: 400 – 418 D Street, SE ( ) Consent

(X) Concept

Meeting Date: January 25, 2018 ( ) Alteration

Case Number: 17-488 (X) New Construction

Evergreen Urban, in partnership with Ebenezer Methodist Church (as Ebenezer Flats, LLC), seeks conceptual design review for the construction of parking structures. Plans have been prepared by R. McGhee and Associates.

At the September 2017 meeting, the Board approved concept plans for subdividing the lots and constructing five new brick townhouses. The Board deferred taking action on the proposed parking structures and asked the applicant to return with more detailed information.

Property Description

Ebenezer Methodist Church is a red brick Romanesque styled building built in 1897 by architects Crump & Palmer and builders Masson & Harper. The church, which faces D Street, occupies three lots on square 820 that have never been combined: 806, 805 and 4. The congregation also owns lots 804 and 803 to the east which are vacant except for a playset, stone retaining wall, and steps.

The project also includes 416 and 418 D Street. The square does not have an alley. There is an existing driveway at Seward Square SE leading to a parking lot adjacent to the Capitol Hill Methodist Church.


The two parking structures would be located at the rear of the new townhouses facing D Street and slightly off-set from one another. They would house mechanical lifts that would allow for cars to be stacked within. The buildings would be accessed from a new curb-cut and driveway on 5th Street. Both structures would be constructed of brick, each with a foot print measuring 26’ 11” x 20’ 0”, and a height of 13’ 4”. The top portion of the elevations would be perforated brick for ventilation, and the roofs would consist of open wood framing concealed from view by low brick parapet walls. The south elevations would feature paneled wood garage doors with crossbracing. Neither structure would be visible from the street.


The square features two large churches, Capitol Hill United Methodist at the northeast corner, and Ebenezer United Methodist at the southwest corner. There is currently a large at-grade parking lot associated with United Methodist at the square’s northern border. The proposed at grade-parking and parking structures at the southern border adjacent to the Ebenezer Methodist Church would essentially book-end the square.

New curb cuts are unusual for the Capitol Hill Historic District, and have been found incompatible by the Board when resulting in the creation of parking spaces within public space front yards. However, in this instance, the proposed location of the curb-cut will be in keeping with where an alley entrance would be found within the district, and it will not result in parking in public space. Given the location of the proposed curb cut, and the overall context of the project, the proposal is not incompatible for the character of the historic district.

While the mechanical lift component for these garages is unusual, the Board has approved numerous new garage structures within the historic district. The proposed 13.5 feet height will result in proportions consistent with those found in the district and will result in subordinate relationships to the rowhouses and clearly read as secondary structures. The simply designed brick elevations articulated with perforated brick panels and wood garage doors are consistent with other garage structures within the historic district.


The HPO recommends that the Board approve the general concept as consistent with the purposes of the preservation act, with further development of the plans as outlined above.

HPO Staff Contact: Gabriela Gutowski

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