Dear PoP – Fences Go up at old church at 10th and V St, NW – FQotD: Can/should it be saved?

A fence has gone up at the old Church at the corner of 10th and V St, NW, a former reader requested Horses Ass Award Nominee. Rumor has it that the building will be razed. A few readers have written in:

“Dear PoP,

It’s such a part of the neighborhood, how buildings next to it were designed, and everyone always envisioned the day when it would be restored. Who knows what they’ll build now. could be anything, and not necessarily something desirable. sad, sad, sad.

I would love to hear what thoughts neighbors have on what, if anything could be done to preserve it, or if it’s too late. I’m just so sick about this, and worried that some cheap-a** piece of doo-doo will replace it. It’s such an anchor for the block, and as blighted as it has been, everyone admired it for what it would eventually become. I never considered that the city would be allowed to lose it from neglect and greed.”

This is a very sad situation. Of course we don’t know all the details. But I believe that the property is in seriously bad shape so perhaps it is too far gone to save? What do you guys think about this property? Should it be saved at all costs? Could it be prohibitively expensive to save it? What is the responsibility of the property owner? Of the city?

If there is no historic designation can anything be done? Can the owner be compelled to save it? Isn’t that sorta what happened to the house at the corner of 16 and T, Streets, NW?

Should it stay or should it go?

31 Comment

  • How many parishioners are left from this church ?

    The former First Church of Christ, Scientist in Adams Morgan went down to less than a dozen parishioners that kept their Reading Room, but sold their Church building which is being preserved as part of larger hotel development with two adjoining parcels along Champlain Street.

    A five star 170 room Edition hotel, part of the Ian Schraeger/Marriott International Inc. partnership of international high end boutique Edition Hotels that will rise nine stories at Euclid and Champlain Streets, NW with six restaurants within the hotel complex.

    Hotel Developer Brian Friedman of Friedman Capital says the Edition Hotel project is “shovel ready,” and is 80% there:

  • I think the church has been secured with some kind of historical status

  • The church is a historic structure that is protected. That’s why the building and the lot next door haven’t been developed- the architect who owns it (Sorg) can’t build what she wants, so she’s sitting on it. I was there on Monday when they put the fence up- they’re not starting any work. They just put it up so they wouldn’t get fines from DCRA.

  • I am going to chain myself to this building if the plan is to raze it.

  • re: the Edition Hotel project

    WTFF? I love the Hudson, Paramount, et. al. Schraeger hotels but the idea of one in the heart of Adams Morgan pains my heart. It’s not a fit. At all. And it’s not like that corner *needs* a boutique hotel with six (!) restaurants. ugh. Just wrong.

    It might actually work better at the 10th and V location because the neighborhood doesn’t have an established flavor that’s decades long the way Adams Morgan has (it’s been what it’s been for pretty much half a century). The ’68 riots wiped out the character of the U Street corridor and then Metro spawned regeneration that’s ongoing. Much more appropriate for the fresh funkiness of a Schraeger hotel.

    • MichelleRD,

      You have no idea of the future of Adams Morgan.

      For far too long, to find a hotel you had to go across the Duke Ellington Bridge to the Omni or the Wardman Park Hotels in Woodley Park or to the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue.

      Together with the publicly funded 15 month project of the 18th Street Streetscape from Florida Avenue all the way to Columbia Road with tinted exposed aggregate 16 foot sidewalks on each side of 18th Street and 22 foot bulbouts at each intersection shortening crosswalks, new lampposts and a host of other street improvements, will all make that 18th Street corridor much more pedestrian friendly, making visitors feel like having arrived somewhere special in our nation’s capital.

      Together with the high end boutique Ian Schraeger/ Marriott Washington Edition Hotel, these two big changes over the next two years will dramatically alter the neighborhood for the long term, raise both the quality of life and property values, being the catalysts to garner incrementally more private investment in the years to come bringing more positive, upscale change to Adams Morgan one address at a time.

      And there’s nothing your silly objection can do about the future of this neighborhood.

      Row houses in Adams Morgan are selling in a matter of few short days, and for more than their list prices, in anticipation of all this.

      Despite the current recession, Adams Morgan’s future is quite bright and forthcoming as the 18th Streetscape starts this Fall.

  • That church is a designated historic landmark known as the “First African New Church (Church of the New Jerusalem).” As a landmark it cannot be razed without going to the Mayor’s Agent (the authority above the Historic Preservation Review Board). And even then, there are very few (and expensive) acceptable reasons for demolition, defined in the preservation law, that the Mayor’s Agent can accept.

    This landmark is not going anywhere.

    If it becomes a public hazard or danger, look to the crazy house at Florida and 4th Street NW in the LeDroit Park Historic District. That house literally had stones falling from the roof onto the sidewalk below. That made it dangerous. DCRA gave the owner a choice: fix it or the city will and a lien will be put on the property to recoup the city’s expenses. That pressure finally got the owner to make the necessary repairs.

    It would be nice if DCRA could do this with hundreds of dangerous properties, since afterall they can just put a lien on the property and put the expense on the owner. Unfortunately, the fund available to DCRA for this work is limited, a sort of revolving fund. Any money they sink into a rehab and lien is locked up until the lien is released. So DCRA has to be careful how many of these things they do at one time. If they do too many at once, all the funds would be spent and locked into unreleased liens, then there’s zero dollars left in the fund.

  • I’m just so sick of the look of the new condo construction that’s going up all over the city… it all looks like Silver Spring. Gross. I really hope that, if they refuse to salvage the church, they’ll build something with character.

  • My feeling is that there are plenty of nice looking churches around the city. Unless there is specific historical or architectural significance to the church, I dont see why it shouldnt be razed. Developing a church is almost impossible and thus the property will continue to be blighted.

  • Love this church and the crazy door on the side. It shoulkd stay just foe the sake of the door. Nice tourist attraction.

  • Just turn it into a CVS!

  • Eric,
    Churches are often converted into condo’s and/or retail. Annapolis has a great example:

    Pittsburgh’s own Church Brew Company did an awesome job renovating and giving new life to a church:

    …and yet another example:

    They’ve done it in Brooklyn, LA and everywhere in between. If a great building like this can be turned into something great, it should be done because it keeps some character in the neighborhood instead of making it look like the Reston Town Center (generic and Disney-like).

  • It doesn’t have to be a church. It can be put to whatever use the owner wants, as long as they preserve the landmark. They could put condos into it. Or a nightclub, or a circus, or a vintage musket ball foundry, whatever use is OK with the zoning authorities.

  • “vintage musket ball foundry” – Crin


  • I am all for historical and architechural preservation, but the added cost may simply not be worth it. yes, the church is kinda nice, but there are lots of nice churches around. From a community point of view its best to get the denser community use from this property. And yes, its been down successfully, but those are isolated cases, and a nightclub?! really? Try getting that through the ANC or liquor control board.

  • They make excellent restaurants…”Christian’s” in New Orleans (rip, thanks Katrina) and Marsha Brown’s in New Hope NJ. Acoustics can be tough, though!

  • Although it looks like nothing is going to happen to this building, I would just like to point out that when you nominate something as a “Horse’s Ass Award” you are implying that something should be done about the property in question. This could include tearing it down and putting up some cookie cutter, all glass, condo building that may look dated immediately, or, 10 years from now. So, maybe you should be a little more discriminate in what you choose to label a “Horse’s Ass Award” so that it’s not just an Award given by a Horse’s Ass.

  • As a neighbor, this seems to be one of the few undeveloped corners in the area. There used to be a chain link fence up a couple of years ago. I’d like to see something happen to it. also, interested in the new bar under construction around the corner.

  • I love the idea of a church themed brew pub, something like John Harvard’s or the MadFax BrewPub in Falls Church.

  • I think the developer should turn it into a Slots/OTB Casino. Charlestown Races and Slots has had a local monopoly for far too long. Damn them and their catchy theme song.

  • This from the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs regarding the church at 10th and V, received July 12:

    “… the building will have to be razed. We are hoping this can be accomplished within next 10 days. There are a few issues we’re working out with utilities. Should be action very soon.”

  • The First African New Church was designated a historic DC Landmark in 2001, as a result of the efforts of the
    U Street Neighborhood Association (also know as the Cardozo-Shaw Neighborhood Association).

    The building is directly across the street from the boundary of the Greater U Street Historic District. We will reach out to DCRA and DC Historic Preservation Office to determine what is happening.

    See a full write-up about the amazing history of this church here >>

    — U Street Neighborhood Association

  • I’ve always wanted to start a nightclub at that location… Too much residential life next to it to make that work though. 🙁

  • Permit B109233 issued 2/4/2010 is for

  • the First African New Church has been saved, as it was designated a DC Historic Landmark in 2001, as a result of the work of the U Street Neighborhood Association (

    The neighborhood sought historic landmark protection for this building as we learned in 2001 it was slated for demolition, and it was not a protected historic building as it is across the street from the boundary of the Greater U Street Historic District. I remember very vividly racing across the District on my Vespa to file our application for historic designation as we were working against the deadline of a pending raze permit application that had been filed.

    The First African New Church is significant both for its architectural history, having been designed by well-known architect Paul J. Pelz – one of the architects who designed the Library of Congress – and for its social history, as a structure and site that has been continually occupied and owned by an African-American religious congregation from 1879 to 2002.

    We’ve confirmed that the site work and permit activity underway at the First African New Church is for interior work only. DCRA has issued a demolition permit, but again it is for interior demolition work only. The property owner is making these improvements to stabilize the structure, and apparently position the church for selling again or redevelopment in the near future.

    You can read the complete write up about the church in this “Scenes from the Past” by Paul Kelsey Williams here >>

    • When is Paul Kelsey Williams going to write a real authoritative on Washington’s neighborhoods ?

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