Historic Preservation Review Board Recommends that the Chapman Stables, Former Brass Knob Warehouse, Not Be Razed and be Listed as a Historic Site

57 N Street, NW

Thanks to @JRogers202 for tweeting us the update:

post on Chapman Stables in #TruxtonCircle – it is now in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites – no razing”

From the Historic Preservation Review Board:

After careful consideration, the Historic Preservation Office recommends that the Board revise the boundaries of the proposed landmark application to include only the garage and stable building at 37-57 N Street, NW on Square 617 Lot 215, and that the Board designate the building a Historic Landmark to be entered into the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites. Staff recommends that the Board forward the nomination to the National Register with the identified revised boundaries. Staff further recommends that the property name be Chapman Coal Company Stable and Garage to more fully reflect the history of the property.

Read the full report here.

26 Comment

  • Tear it down. “Old” is not the same as “historic.” It’s bereft of charm or architectural interest, and there’s no point limiting the city’s future through a misplaced romance with insignificant bits of its past.

    • how does not razing this negatively impact you?

      • I agree with Irving Street and i live 1 block away

        • I too live one block away, and am thrilled with the decision. It’s nothing spectacular, but it’s a nice looking old warehouse (arched windows, high ceilings, etc.), and it’s rather unique for DC. Plus, the developer only wanted to raze it so that he could sit on an empty lot (and thus pay very little in property taxes) as opposed to sitting on an empty building (more property taxes). Mr. Mays has no plans to develop it in the foreseeable future anyway.

      • As much or as little as saving or razing any minor, marginal building does. Very little. But the precedent of obsessive preservation is a bad one. While I support historic preservation in many cases, preserving architectural dreck simply because it’s old ultimately slows growth, raises prices, diminishes utility and limits the potential for needed change as the city, the economy and the craft of architecture evolve.

        Preservation ultimately becomes a bit of a fetish. I laugh every time I pass the old Chinese Embassy in Kalorama, where they’ve decided against all common sense to preserve the utterly nondescript facade of the former hotel that housed it.

        What’s the point?

        • the point is that there is a competitive advantage in the real estate market and in terms of tourism and housing prices to maintain unique and rare structures. this structure is rare in dc, if not unique. definitely unique to this neighborhood.
          This building is not holding up development in the area, in fact this area is one of the most radically developing areas of the city. it’s practically an entirely new neighborhood just one block away.
          You may call this building nothing beyond old, but that does not mean that others don’t find value in it. Developers have leveled a few buildings in this neighborhood that were not protected, or even attempts at protection, because most saw no intrinsic value in them. i for one am very glad this received protection as i find it to be a special situation.

          i do agree that i does little for affordable housing prices.
          the craft of architecture will have to change a lot before i would concede that new is better than old. not to mention the fact that there is still space to grow. just one block east is a gigantic parcel, that was once old rowhouses that no one found value in, and is currently a parking lot. when we’ve run out of space and are hurting because of it, lets revisit destruction. in my old cranky opinion anyway.

          • Look — an intelligent back-and-forth. That’s nice to see.

            As to the issue at hand, I don’t have a final opinion yet. I’d like to learn more about the specific architectural features that supposedly make this place special. Also, what’s the zoning for this site?

          • I’m not sure I see any tourist value but the building has a certain appeal assuming it can be renovated/cleaned up. It clearly needs a lot of TLC though. I also do think that commercial viability needs to be a consideration. Is there any realistic market for these buildings? Nowhere that I can see even addresses their current use. At the very least a historic designation should be able to identify some potential/plausible use — this is a city, not a museum.

          • janie4

            Look, I like the building, but citing tourism on this building is ridiculous – the building is on N where it deadends at New York, and nobody goes down that block of N without a purpose.

          • Yes, no tourists will be attracted to this building anytime soon, but people do definitely visit and love dc because of its beautiful old buildings. That’s cold cash coming into the city. The more rehabbed interesting old buildings we have, the more desireable our city is for tourism.
            And this neighborhood is getting better. To think that a building isn’t viable for tourists interests because of the current conditions of it or the neighborhood isn’t an accurate way to look at it. Imagine how people would flock to this place if it was a brewpub?

  • looks like a great spot for a warehouse party

    • the illegal warehouse parties used to be in the building behind this one (the one without a restroom), also purchased by the developer, which will i assume continue to remain empty now that they wont be able to tear them down

      • Actually they can tear that one down. It wasn’t covered by this application. And it’s in much worse shape.

  • If there’s something interesting & historical about this horse’s ass, I hope that the Historical Preservation Board is planning to put in their Saturdays working on site to reveal it! Inflicting this blighted eyesore on the neighborhood (I bike past it often) is easy for them to do, but diminishes opportunity for everyone else.

    Maybe there’s something beautiful underneath the ugly pinkish paint, but it’s going to be harder than ever for anyone to make a break-even investment there. Sigh.

  • OK…now what will happen to it? Does this mean that it’ll continue to lie fallow because developers will have to jump through even more hurdles to revamp the place and make it usable again? Seems like we’re preserving our nose to spite our face to a certain extent.

    • Given that it is the same developer that has sat on the Firehouse for the past 7 years, I think we could expect nothing to happen in either case. It’s a choice of nothing happening in an empty lot, or nothing happening in a building. I prefer the building.

    • Now they’re eligible for federal rehab tax credits so they were just handed a 20% off coupon on all their rehab costs. Probably why the owner didn’t oppose the nomination. The owners allowed to not oppose the nomination right? Or would that be a violation of his own property rights?

      • This is certainly an important piece of missing information from the OP. If the owner wanted to the building to be designated then I’d be all for it. Anyone know if that is true?

  • I live on the Unit Block of N St NW a few houses down from this building. The neighborhood association had a community meeting about this building and the community voted to recommend to the Historic Preservation Office to designate the building as a Historic Landmark. Many of the residents at this meeting have lived in the neighborhood for decades and also voted to recommend to preserve the buliding. I agree that it is an aweful eyesore as it currently sits (and currently serves as a defacto shelter and hangout for many of who benefit from neighboring O Street’s S.O.M.E. resources), but given that we sit just a block outside the Mount Vernon Historic Neighborhood zone, razing the building would have allowed a developer to come in and build any sort of a monstrosity in its place. This now forces the developer to at least somewhat consider the historic nature of the street as it looks to renovate the building. God knows I wish others who already renovated their houses with additions would have had similar aesthetic considerations/ restraints.

  • building exterior is reminiscent of the former Brass Knob Warehouse. I think it has a lot more potential in its existing state than some of the naysayers here seem to think.

  • Cool-ish building. They ain’t makin’ any more of them like this.

    Neat block.

    Screwed developer.

  • This could be a cool place and still profitable for the developer just not likely to the plans they may have previously envisioned. They just maymhave to be a bit moremcreative instead of taking the easier condo in a box project.

    I am sure the plan was to raze it and build a 5 or so story building wit tiny units that included nice finishes. Don’t fool youself that this was going to be affordable or add to the t was never going to add to the affordable housing stock to any great degree if at all. This neighborhood commands high prices.

    I don’t live in that neighborhood and I knew this was going to be the outcome so I can’t believe the developer wouldn’t have as well. So again why not work up a plan that utilizes the building and go from there. Now everyone will look at all the plans suspiciously because of the start. Developers choose which properties to develop and how all while making a profit. I don’t believe a developer couldn’t make a profit on this project without razing the building they just didn’t want to.

  • Oh thank god! I live right around the corner on Kirby St. and let me tell you: There aren’t ANY good spots to put my horses, other than in this semi-abandoned old building. The added refuge it provides for prostitution, drug trade, etc is a fair trade off and as a local, I’m willing to put up with it.

    • prostitution? hahaha, you don’t have a clue do you? Drug dealers, sadly, yes, a few, nothing like in years of yore though. Prostitutes, no.

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