What the Helen of Troy is This?

DSCN1347, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

The shells on the 600 Block of Irving Street, NW are getting fixed up. There were some wild looking ones not too long ago. The house on the right looks pretty good. But I’m totally confused by the house on the left. It is only one story and does not go back very far. What’s the deal with the one on the left?


And while we’re on the block, it looks like the “Park View” is finally fixed up.


17 Comment

  • Im off saturday, lets go knock on the door, maybe they will invite us in?!

  • This was the condition of the place about six months ago:
    They kept the facade and built around it — looked like a pretty basic woodframe structure. As a neighbor, it baffles the cooties outta me. And sadly, they’ve painted over the message on the door. I was hoping that would stay.

  • i totally read your username as Intangi Blearts, it kinda confused me until the punctuation

  • It looks like to me like it is almost supposed to be an addition onto the other house. They obviously didn’t want to cover up the windows to the other house.

  • It looks like to me it is almost supposed to be an addition onto the other house. They obviously didn’t want to cover up the windows to the other house.

  • I’m going with the nextdoor neighbors buying the lot and making an additon. Honestly, thats the only thing that makes any sense. Still, though, far better investment to rebuild an actual house I would think, and it’s ugly as sin.

  • Jamie: That’s just the puzzle, though… there wasn’t an actual house to rebuild. You can’t really tell from my older photo (link in comment above), but it was just a thin facade being held up by boards; It’s like creating a whole human body from a bit of scalp with a few hairs on it. Weird.

    Knowing nothing, we assumed there must be some strange building-code loophole that says, as long as you’ve got half a brick of the original thing, you can go all Dr. Frankenstein on it, and benefit somehow? Anybody out there hip on this stuff?

  • The Park View looks awesome, though. I saw that driving by the other day and my jaw dropped. Beautiful.

  • @IA – yeah it’s weird. Maybe someone was going to save it and changed their minds, since it doesn’t look like there’s anything left of the facade now.

    We really need better historical preservation regs in this town. While I am sensitive to the financial burden they can impose in some situations, before the economy went to hell Columbia Heights was being “uglified” at a breathtaking pace as people did awful renovations in order to make a quick buck. The one silver lining of the housing market crashing is that this has mostly stopped since it’s pretty hard to make money flipping right now.

    There has to be a middle ground between “tear your house down and put a trailer on the lot if you feel like it” and “you must make it look exactly like it did before.”

  • The strangest thing about historic preservation is that they will allow your house to collapse and rot with no problem, but when you apply for a construction permit they will block you. true.

  • What I don’t get about this shed is that there was a beautiful blue house front where that shed is now. Where did it go? I thought the whole reason the kept it up was because of historic building regulations and what not…hmmm

  • You are so right, Neener.

    Much of this city has so many well built properties with excellent potential, but rot and are allowed to collapse because of so very few who will bother with or can endure the failed local government here made up of too many people with failed personal lives in the private sector that take up lives in the public sector with a chip on their shoulder and govern like tyrants.

    I tried to restore a nice old building, but was blocked by these uneducated tenacious clowns at the ANC who think they know better what to do with somebody else’s property with their “great weight” advice and the elitists on the historic preservation board that have never built anything in their failed personal lives in the real world private sector and find a life in the exaggerated government authority they create for themselves “in the name of the disadvantaged”.

    Everything is so personal with them. They produce nothing but prolonged misery in so many ways.

    The rotting buildings in our nation’s capital are proof positive of the abuse found here in D.C. by these self empowering local committees and an unwelcome city hall that makes it so cumbersome and inhospitable to those of us that would like to make our neighborhood and this city better.

    Writing on a blog is too easy. You have to live it in the fullness of time, day after day to truly understand how failed and self destructive home rule has come to be, and I empathize with some of the courageous experiences you’ve described here with little accompanying support.

    I’m unwelcome here, so I’m with you, Neener and I’m leaving as it’s taken 30 years to set up a failed home rule that’s likely not to change in my lifetime.

  • That is not a Historic Neighborhood is it? So that wouldnt be why they kept the wall. My guess is by holding onto the one wall they only had to get “replacement in kind” permits. which are much easier to get then “building an addition” permits. just a guess.

  • I think it is a garage

  • All the historic preservation bashers need to chill out.

    527 Irving Street NW is not in a historic district, therefore the historic preservation regulations do not apply to this property. All that applies is building code and zoning code. It looks like, since the handrail is attached to the righthand property (and you can’t attach things to someone else’s property), that the new crappy construction is an addition to the righthand property after they bought the lot and joined it to their own. Probably their only limit was lot coverage. In an R-4 zone lot coverage max is 60% so they weren’t allowed to rebuild the entire old structure once they joined the two lots into one. That’s why it’s set back and stupid.

    If this HAD been in a historic distirct, THEN hp regs would have applied, and this wouldn’t have happened.

    So Neener is wrong to blame any of this on historic preservation, and his anonymous supporter at 10:55 is so ignorant on the topic the best thing to do is to just hope he goes away.

  • On an optimistic note: I walked by the house on the right recently when they were finishing construction. The improvement to the front of the house is an extreme improvement, and I commend the owners for making it simple yet dignified!

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