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“One of the First Houses in Petworth set to be Razed…anything the neighbors could do to save this historic house from coming down?”

by Prince Of Petworth January 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm 19 Comments

8th and Upshur Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

A developer has applied for a permit to raze one of the first houses in Petworth. We discussed this project here before. It’s the house that has the steps on the side of the porch, which you can see on the photo from 1893.

Below is the notification from DCRA about a raze permit. Does anyone know if there is anything the neighbors could do to save this historic house from coming down? The developers could easily turn the house into condos without razing it.

The following raze applications were filed at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) between December 1, 2016 and January 5, 2017:

ANC Address

4C 4207 8th Street NW (two story brick single family dwelling, semi-detached)”


  • spookiness

    Is it designated?

  • Dognonymous

    If the developers could actually do it easily or cost-effectively, they probably would. Given that they’re probably planning on building one connected structure on that lot and the former church lot (e.g., new rowhouses, new condos, whatever), I’m guessing it’s not so easy.

    • PJL

      Exactly. Please explain how you know a renovation could be “easily” done.

  • anonymous

    Yes- you guys should have gathered together and bought the property. If the property doesn’t have all of it’s original character etc–what’s the point of keeping the structure? At best they can keep the façade–otherwise I don’t see the point of keeping the structure.

  • Accountering

    Just because it is old – doesn’t necessarily mean it is worth saving. Just because it was first doesn’t necessarily mean it is worth saving. There are thousands of examples of homes that look virtually identical to this one in the surrounding blocks.
    Also, it doesn’t make much sense for you to speculate as to what the developer could “easily” do.

    • MadMax

      “One of” the first, so even less historically relevant.

    • James W.

      My entire neighborhood was built around the turn of the century. Maybe on the west coast someone might thing a home built in 1893 is inherently special, but they’re pretty much routine around here.

      • JS

        Don’t get the people from Portland started about how awesomely old their 1920’s homes are.

  • textdoc

    The OP could try pursuing a historic district (as some residents of Grant Circle did) or perhaps historic/landmark designation for that particular property. I think the latter is probably the easier/faster method.
    OP, try contacting your ANC rep and also Kent Boese, who’s an ANC in Ward 1 but has some experience with pursuing historic designation.

  • jonah

    This property is located in ANC 4C and specifically the Single Member District of 4C07 Commissioner Karen Cooper. If you live in the area and have thoughts I would reach out to her at [email protected]. I serve on ANC 4C with her, though don’t represent this area.

    If there is interest in saving it, and I am not intending to share an opinion either way with this information, this is what DCRA says: “District law requires public notice of raze permit applications for both historic and non-historic property. This is because building demolition is often a matter of interest to affected residents and communities. In addition, the DC historic preservation law allows community groups to seek temporary and permanent protection for any property that may meet the criteria for historic landmark designation…The DC historic preservation law allows ANCs and community groups with a demonstrated interest in historic preservation to file applications for historic designation at any time. Once an application to designate a historic landmark is filed with HPO, the property is protected by law for 90 days to allow HPRB time to determine whether the property meets historic landmark designation criteria. This protection does not apply to properties covered by historic district applications.”

  • The Return of the Thin Archduke

    Anyone who thinks this house deserves preservation, we have a “plaza” in Adams Morgan that needs your help.

    • wpk_dc

      +1 Haha!

  • one of those evil preservationists

    According to DC Property Quest, this building isn’t currently designated historic. OP, since notice of the raze permit was issued January 9, you have thirty days from then to contest. DC Historic Preservation law allows ANCs or community groups “with a demonstrated interest in historic preservation” to file an application for historic designation even after a raze permit application has been filed. Once filed, the property is legally protected from demolition for 90 days to give the Historic Preservation Review Board time to review. You can find more information on the DC Office of Planning website under Historic Preservation -> Permits and Design Review -> Raze Permits -> Public Review. I suggest you contact your ANC and also DC Preservation League. However, keep in mind that the building may not qualify for landmark status even if it is from 1893.

    • Al

      Given that this is not of major historic significance realize that 90 days a lot of money in construction, especially if its a small development company, before you raise a fuss about it being built.

      No I have nothing to do with this project, as someone in the field just thought I’d let you know.

  • Anonymous

    If this house qualifies as historic, then the other houses attached to it also qualify. Query whether the owners of those houses want to live with the restrictions attached to a home designated as historic.

    • Anonymous

      I love my house on that block, and enjoy telling people of its early Petworth past, but don’t think it merits historic protection. Nearby Neighbors have known about this project (including the impending raze application) for months after communication from the previous ANC commissioner. The developer has done a nice job communicating with us nearby, and took active measures to abate potential rodent problems at our request (before razing the church) which was our primary concern.

  • there was always something there before

    “Save the Historic Tayloe Estate” – Ancestors of the Friends of McMillan, 1893

  • wpk_dc

    I do love seeing that old photo of the row of homes, especially seeing nothing else around it. It would be ashamed if they were razed, but really, I doubt if there’s anything particularly historically significant about them.

  • Old timer on 8th

    Old doesn’t equal historic. The houses next to this one are mostly chopped into condos already. They used to be nice, but lately they leave their trash cans outside for days and the tree boxes are full of litter. Develop the area, bring new blood, maybe then the neighborhood will improve.


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