1225 Tenth Street: "I feel a lot of sadness ... "
Friday, October 9, 2009 2:48:56 PM
Subject: A Victorian house is going down....and I have many questions....
The vacant Victorian (it also [has] an eclectic mix with some elements of the Federal Style) located on the Eastern sidewalk of 10th Street NW, between M & N, is going down. [Ed: That’s 1225]
I feel a lot of sadness whenever I see a historic building go down this way.....
Do we know if this was the only alternative? I tend to be doubtful....
there are ways to save an old building, and as they say, if there's a will, there's a way.
Does anyone know what is going to go up in its place? A new condo? A modern -and out of context- building? Some nicely designed structure that will harmoniously blend with the rest of the neighboring buildings?
Or will it be something totally out of context and a permanent eyesore for the next 100 years? Has anyone being shown the plans for what will be erected in its place?
Will it remain as a vacant lot? Cynically speaking, it will be contextual in that block where there are some other vacant lots which seem to remain permanently vacant. In an architectural and urban context
that is the equivalent of a smile that is missing a few too many
and almost as attractive.
Were the neighbors consulted?
Was the Blagden Alley Association consulted?
Was the Historic Preservation Review Board notified?
Will this lead to the demolition of the buildings at the back of the block?
I hope someone has answers to my questions, and some positive feelings about it. I don't, for now.
When I moved to the block in 1987, the house was in a similar state of repair as till recently. The property was purchased by its current owner sometime in the early 1990s.
At some point a year or so ago my understanding is that the city condemned the house and requested it be demolished or fixed. I don't believe that the owner wished to have it demolished but it seemed the only option open to her at the time. The demolition request went through all the appropriate channels, the Historic Preservation Office, the Logan Circle Historic Committee and Blagden Alley Association was notified of the pending demolition.
While the structure of the building was seriously compromised you and I know that most anything can be fixed if you put your mind to it. Unfortunately in this instance time ran out on fixing the building and it was demolished. The facing bricks are to be salvaged and
reused if a structure replaces it.
As to what will eventually go there, there are no plans at the current time to my knowledge.
Sometimes there is no nice solution. The editor recalls several such instances in the 80's and later. Many of the gaps you see on the 900 block of M Street were not there a while back, for example. Not all "gentrification" is building or renovation. Sometimes it's watching things disappear.
It is worth noting that the loss of this building is proceeding differently than the old days. Back then, the drug dealers, users, and homeless would have been in there and within a few years there would have been a fire. And then another. Pretty soon, the building would be so weakened that it would essentially collapse. With luck, only that house would come down. Attempts to seal up such buildings were much less successful than now. And the causes of those fires, from the drug dealers to the homeless to the transvestite prostitutes have long gone, at least as a large group. This building, as much as its loss hurts, is a reminder of how fragile the preservation of the character of the neighborhood was.
The editor will note that one of the vacant lots on Tenth Street had a building proposed sometime in the 1990's. To put it nicely, the proposed structure made Bauhaus seem Victorian. The community killed it, along with a good deal of help from others.
Some current pictures from Jim:
Looking a bit closer to the first, we see
You'll see a lot of that ornamentation in the neighborhood. Whenever the editor sees one of those bricks in a pile somewhere, he thinks that it was once a bit of pride on a nice house.
For a bit of context, see here. 1225 is the one on the left.