Archive for April 23, 2009

Lost Washington: the Key Mansion

Posted in Federal, Georgetown, Lost Washington, Residences on April 23, 2009 by Kent

key-mansionIts not often that I find a building lost to posterity as and outright crime, but this certainly would qualify by my reckoning.

The Key Mansion, built in 1802, was an historic property from an early date. Francis Scott Key — of Star Spangled Banner fame — lived in the house for twenty-two years. Key moved to Georgetown in 1805 when an uncle offered him a partnership in his law practice.

Efforts to save the residence were made as early as 1907, when it was opened as a museum. Unfortunately, the house was altered for commercial purposes in 1912, when the gable roof and adjoining single story office building were removed.

Even though Congress passed a bill in 1948 providing $65,000 to relocate the home, President Truman vetoed the bill, and the buildings fate was sealed. It was razed because plans for the Whitehurst Freeway called for the site to be used as a connecting ramp with Key Bridge.


Police Call Boxes as Art

Posted in 16th Street Heights, Random Observations on April 23, 2009 by Kent

Police Call box as artThis may be my last post on police call boxes as art for a while. I found a cache of them in the Crestwood/16th Street Heights neighborhoods, but this is the last one I’m aware of. I know that we have these defunct call boxes throughout the city, but the ones I’ve been posting are a little beyond what others have done.

This one is actually right on 14th Street, NW, more or less across from the old car barn. I believe the cross street is Buchanan.Police Call box as art detail

Painted Brick Houses

Posted in Random Observations on April 23, 2009 by Kent

painted rowhousesRight or wrong, there are some things I feel VERY strongly about. One of these is that if you are lucky enough to have a home that is unpainted brick … YOU DON’T PAINT IT!

I’ll concede that there are occasions when painting a brick building are a good option. Some of these situations could include:

1) If the building has already been painted,
2) If there has been a fire and the damage can’t be entirely repaired, or,
3) If you build an addition to the existing structure, and it is impossible to match the brick.

These scenarios aside, I can’t see why anyone would take a perfectly good brick house and paint it. Once you start the cycle of maintenance you have to keep it up. It also impacts neighbors aesthetically if you live in a rowhouse, as many of these homes are intended to read as a unit and not as individual structures.

Now, why is this on my mind??? Because my house is not painted and a relatively new neighbor of mine has asked me no fewer that four times when I will paint my house. One of the first things he did when he moved in was paint his pristine home, because it made it look fresh.

Now, I haven’t told him that I think what he did was wrong. Its his home, and he has that right. But, he doesn’t own my home. I don’t pay him rent. And, my home is two blocks away from his. Don’t you think he should let it go and stop forcing his passive-aggressive “suggestion” upon me? I will never paint the brick of my home.


Activity at 1000 Connecticut

Posted in Downtown, Real Estate on April 23, 2009 by Kent

Installation of barriers at 1000 Conn.There was a little activity at 1000 Connecticut yesterday after months of stagnation. Jersey barriers were being placed around the site. I don’t know if this has anything to do with the work they are doing on K Street, but if its actually connected t0 the proposed building for the site, its very significant. While projects under construction have continued to progress, its been months since a new project has broken ground.Barriers at 1000 Conn

1520 14th Street, NW

Posted in Art Deco, Automobile Dealerships, Random Observations, Shaw on April 23, 2009 by Kent

1520 14th StreetI’ve had a thing for this building when I first saw it several years ago. Located in the middle of what used to be Washington’s automobile row, this building has a subtle Egyptian theme to it that most people probably don’t notice.

While its been a furniture store since it was refurbished and opened — first as a Storehouse, and now as a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams — it was originally an automobile dealership. This was very clear when Storehouse was in this building, less so with some of the changes that occurred with the current tenant.

mott-motors-incI’m not sure when the building was built, or who the first dealer was, but I did find the accompanying add from August 17, 1930, showing that Mott Motors sold Hupmobiles there.

Later, Graham Motor Sales was reported as moving into the space on August 1, 1933, and using it for sales and their service headquarters.

Shake Up at Parks & Recs: Will Underserved Neighborhoods Finally Get on the Map?

Posted in City Services, Park View on April 23, 2009 by Kent

Parkview Recreation CenterEarlier this week, the Post reported that Mayor Fenty unexpectedly fired his director of Parks and Recreation. Ximena Hartsock will take over as acting director. Fenty, being consistent with other current behavior, offered little explanation.

Its entirely too early to tell what any of this ultimately means, but I am hopeful that the department will improve. I know that the Parkview Recreation Parkview Recreation Center 2Center has had a lot of difficulty getting any attention from Parks and Recs. The neighborhood has asked for several improvements, from things as simple as basic maintenance and painting, to actually developing neighborhood programs. Any upkeep that has occurred has been from staying on their back, or from volunteers.

The Parkview Recreation Center is a nice property with a lot of potential. Some basic improvements have been made, and I don’t want to discount that. The city also installed floodlights that now illuminate the adjoining field, but this was largely in response to local crime and drug dealing than it was for the development of local youth.

This Date in History

Posted in April, Capitol Hill, Churches on April 23, 2009 by Kent

April 23, 1909: A welcome reception was held for the Rev. Arthur H. Thompson at the Waugh M.E. Church, 3rd and A streets northeast, to which church he was recently assigned.waugh-church