Monday, September 29, 2008

sewer work begins

you've likely seen the construction beginning on the combined sewer separation project. While it will be kind of disruptive for the next couple years, it will be a huge benefit to the health of the Anacostia River. (no more untreated waste flowing directly into the river)

Click to Enlarge

map courtesy of DC WASA info sheet (PDF)

Friday, September 26, 2008

National Book Festival Tomorrow!

The Festival will take place rain or shine Saturday, September 27th 2008 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm on The National Mall (Between 3rd and 7th Streets). Check it out!

The event will feature a range of celebrated writers who represent a wide variety of genres including: Tiki Barber, Dionne Warwick, Salman Rushdie, the recently named Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, Warren Brown from Food Network show Cake Love, and Arthur and Pauline Frommer. The festival also has a number of international participants from Brazil, Canada, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

the campaign to save 1357 Good Hope

A development company has plans to demolish this building and replace it with a suburban-style office building. Fortunately, the community is beginning to rally around its preservation. The post below is excerpted and edited from a letter sent by the Historic Anacostia Block Association to the DC Preservation League enlisting their support.

This two-story brick structure, located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Good Hope Road and 14th Street SE, is among the oldest remaining commercial buildings on Good Hope Road, historically a prominent thoroughfare east of the Anacostia River. 1357 Good Hope Road is located directly adjacent to the existing historic district, and is a prominent physical reminder of the local commercial district, most of which has in the past half century been either demolished or replaced.

Anacostia is often called one of the city’s “most fragile” historic districts. Despite early efforts to preserve the unique character of the neighborhood by creating the historic district, the official boundaries fail to include many of the commercial structures along Good Hope Road. An aerial photograph from 1921 shows 1357 Good Hope Road as part of a streetscape filled with small-scale shops and buildings lining its few-block corridor, yet today is the only building of them still standing. Rather than allow demolition to further erase Anacostia’s fragile yet significant physical and architectural heritage – significant not for its grand facades or Corinthian columns but instead for its “working class” aesthetic that recalls the much more everyday history of our city – we have a chance to preserve this building for this and future generations.

Originally known as 157 Harrison Street, the building permit for 1357 Good Hope Road is dated December 14, 1906. Designed by S.C. Yates, a local architect residing just up the road at 317 Harrison Street, the corner building was built for Sarah A. Brady, who with her family lived at and operated a grocery store at the site for some time prior. Two earlier building permits show her as the owner of a frame store/dwelling at the same address, both for repairs to the store and a stable. Her application for a building permit for a brick structure at the site display the kind of permanence that Brady anticipated, and records show the Brady name (Brady & Son) associated with the store through the 1910s.

As it still stands, the building’s distinguishing architecture is evident in its tall pediment that wraps the eastern edge of the building, giving it a larger appearance than the interior reality. It is the last surviving example on this stretch of Anacostia's Good Hope corridor of the simple, utilitarian false front commercial building type. Although false-fronted buildings were popularized after the gold rush as a means of giving new main street commercial buildings out West the same appearance as those in the more-established East, the style was used in small towns elsewhere to create a more urban atmosphere. Houses possessing a false front tend to be along the main street, as was the case for 1357 Good Hope Road, where Sarah A. Brady lived above her store until her death in 1916. It is notable that the architect designed the false front for the side of the building flanking 14th Street (then Pierce Street). Although all of the buildings on the opposite side of the street have since been demolished, the building was once an integral part of the impression of urban commercial success that the corridor imparted.

We all know that Anacostia is in the midst of great change. It is incredibly important that our community preserve the aging and historic assets that remain, so that we are remembered and known not just for the great transformations to reinvent our streets, but also for the unique, newly-appreciated, and often undervalued history that although mostly hidden, is inescapably written into every remaining “Old Anacostia” building in our fair neighborhood.

Many of us moved to Anacostia for its village feel, its historic character, and its potential. Preserving 1357 Good Hope Road by specially designating it as a historic asset is no small issue. At stake is one of the last remaining reminders of a life and vitality that Anacostia so deserves to grasp again.

For information on how to get involved, please email me by clicking Here.

1903 map, showing original structure, courtesy of the Library of Congress map collections

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

in pictures

end of august..

early september..


nothing quite like a fresh coat o' paint!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

old Masonic lodge

Built in 1890, this humble-yet-amazing building at the corner of 14th and U Streets was once the new location for the Anacostia Lodge, originally located at the corner of 6th Street and Virginia Ave SE (since paved over as the site of the SE Freeway). It's interesting to think of the lodge moving from Capitol Hill to Anacostia. They must have thought "let's move to the best neighborhood in town". Or rather, outside of town, as it was then considered a separate village.

A description of the building from the Washington Post article "It Has Prospered", from July 2, 1890:
“We will now have a home of which we will be proud,” said John H. King, secretary of the lodge, to a Post reporter. “It will cost in the neighborhood of $14,000. The building will be three stories, and the first or ground floor will be a public hall with stage complete, and dressing rooms beneath the stage. The second story will be fitted up in good style as a lodge room to rent to other organizations, and the third floor will be the Masonic hall. Each of the lodge rooms will be 31 by 60 feet in the clear.”
I don't know what it is about old newspaper clippings and photographs. They really fascinate me. Just thinking about all the history - the mostly pretty simple history - of our streets is an interesting way to value what we still have.

This photo from around 1918 shows some kids on what looks like a Fourth of July float going down 14th Street (then Pierce Street) toward Good Hope. Remarkable.



I wonder what happened to the third floor... seems odd that it would have been completely lopped off. The 1921 aerial here vaguely shows another lost feature - some sort of tower on the front left side of the building.

Sadly, some of the houses shown in the older photo are also gone: demolished to make way for parking lots.

old photo courtesy of the National Photo Company Collection

1323 U Street = pretty sweet deal

Noticed this house went up for sale yesterday. I haven't seen the inside but it looks like a steal. And check out the character of the exterior - totally intact. It's on a great block, too.

The buildings across the street are two of my favorites. Very deep south.

Apparently it is a fixer-upper, but at $189,000: Snatch it up!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

then again, sometimes it's pretty important to hold on to the old, as it can teach us a whole lot about how to do new things right, and to provide a balance to the oftentimes-necessary new.

Friday, September 12, 2008

the other Poplar Point

well, not really - but there there is development coming to another part of Poplar Point that rarely gets media attention. The stretch of land along Howard Road between the Metro station and the South Capitol Street Bridge is privately owned, and its owner, Urban-City Ventures LLC is seeking major development of his own.

The WBJ headline reads "Developer Seeks Big Box for Poplar Point" ..Just the thought of which gives me a sinking feeling, knowing that that is the exact opposite of the kind of development we need in this prime location. But with the housing market where it is and the developers eager to build, Urban-City's position is that an initial retail-only phase is their best chance for success. The article suggests that offices and a hotel could come later, and that the site could handle around 3 million square feet of development.

Acknowledging that this is all still very vague and that no plans have been submitted, I hope it becomes plain that suburban-style big box isn't the best use of this land, even just a portion of it.

I mean, we aren't some out-of-the-way, random no-name rivertown. This site is at the heart of the capital of the free world, and certainly deserves a less "any ol' highway exit in Anywhere, USA" development approach.

For the full article, Click Here

Thursday, September 11, 2008


seven years ago today Anacostia lost two of its own: Rodney Dickens, a fifth grader from Ketcham Elementary, and his teacher James Debeuneure. The two were on their way to California with two other of DCPS students-teacher teams for an educational trip to the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary when terrorists hijacked the plane and crashed into the Pentagon.

the Anacostia fire department's homage

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


for a while there I was worried that this was going to be an abominable renovation with no windows. But then the Grant Program sign popped up, the fence was repaired, and I am excited to see this great house progress!

the house below also bookends the same row of about four homes, and has a building permit out for exterior work - although not yet clear if it's grant work.

"Replace Roof asphalt shingle including turret. Replace 21 Windows on front and side. Wood." woohoo!

For those of you in Historic Anacostia that haven't yet taken advantage of this amazing grant program, Click Here for more info and to download the application.

photos by DG-rad

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

unofficial results

hey, at least we know that there's a strong contingency seeking change over here, and a wide range of people that will be urging meaningful improvements in Ward 8 no matter who represents us in the council.

Charles, you ran a great campaign. There are a ton of people out there who can't wait to see you in the DC political scene - so stick with it.

Definitely a setback for the progress and positive recognition of Ward 8, but not one that will last forever. Here's to hoping that Yavocka Young has success as an Independent Democrat in the November election!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Vote in DC Primary Tomorrow Today

Marion Barry is a very personable man, and he has been in DC government for a while, but it's time for some new leadership in our Ward.

For those who feel the same, but aren't sure who to support, please consider voting for Charles Wilson for the Ward 8 council seat. He has the energy and the ability to do great things. We deserve that.

Polls are open from 7AM - 8PM.
To find your local polling place, Click Here

big loss

I love these old photos of Anacostia. They show a vitality and a life that we really want to regain, but are also a sad reminder of the architectural heritage lost as a result of so many demolitions. Unfortunately, most of the clapboard-sided commercial buildings are now gone, with only the brick ones remaining.

1900 Block of MLK, c. 1910

Below is the exact same view today. What is interesting is that 1913 MLK (fourth building from the left, above), although brick underneath, was once covered in wood clapboard siding to match its neighbors.

the leftmost building is 1913 MLK

While I try to not idealize the past and solely wish the neighborhood could look exactly like it did a hundred years ago, there's something to be said for the unique look of Anacostia that is more and more forgotten with each demolition. There's a certain fancifulness that has been lost, and, at least on our commercial corridors, a threadbare architectural heritage that we must vigorously fight to preserve.

...and yes, I am kind of obsessed with this block.

old photo courtesy of the National Photo Company Collection (edited by DG-rad)

Friday, September 5, 2008

love it

not sure I will ever stop being ridiculously jazzed about the exterior reno's going on over here.

this house on V Street is a prime example. I mean, look how awesome it is to peel away all the layers and find that, yes, there really is legit wood plank underneath!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

a good reminder

I touch on this subject a lot -at least in conversation- so although this isn't the end all, be all neighborhood map, it is a good reminder that "East of the River" is made up of a heckuva lot more neighborhoods than just Anacostia.

(to say it another way, lumping everything in this part of the city together and calling it "Anacostia" is just plain incorrect)

Click to Enlarge

true, the lines aren't as clearly drawn in real life as this makes them out to be ...but still helpful.

map courtesy of Wikipedia

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

on a nice day...

...this office building looks pretty great!

and while I don't think 2100 MLK is the most awesome building around, it is nice having a kept up property that actually supports office and retail tenants.

and get ready for some changes to this view (in a couple years) when the Anacostia Professional Buildings straight ahead in the photo are torn down, V Street is extended, and much taller buildings are built in their place.

I hope the big buildings step back a bit from the street so that what's left of the historic streetscape isn't totally overshadowed... then again Anacostia does need a big boost in density for it to really be sustainable long-term.

photos by DG-rad

fake out

the sun was shining perfectly last night to expose what could be if this corner lot –the old Peoples Drug– were redeveloped with storefronts.

now fully braced, these three stalwarts of the old Anacostia will stay put until whatever becomes of Anacostia Square is finally developed around them.