“The Old 1899 Post Office is a massive bulwark of the city’s historic charm. Without it, all that frozen bureaucracy on Pennsylvania Avenue would become unbearably oppressive. Besides, it was there first.”
— Wolf Von Eckardt
In 1995, the Andrich Fund was established by family and friends in memory of Mark Collin Andrich (1952-1995), an architectural historian and longtime DCPL volunteer. For more than ten-years, Andrich volunteered his services, conducting historic site surveys and researching numerous buildings as part of DCPL’s ongoing documentation of Washington’s apartment buildings, banks, and office buildings. Monies contributed to the fund continue to assist DCPL and other community groups in documenting buildings and neighborhoods, and achieving their designation as historic landmarks and historic districts.
Fittingly, DCPL celebrated its 25th anniversary with a gala dinner and program at the Old Post Office on May 17, 1996. The event attracted significant publicity and brought together old and new supporters to mark the milestone. That same year, DCPL announced its first list of Washington’s Most Endangered Places. The periodic release of updates to the list became an important media event for the organization. Publicity generated by the list brings needed attention to the deteriorating condition of numerous sites and helps raise the public’s awareness of historic preservation.
During the mid-1990s, DCPL faced several challenges. The first was the proposed development of an arena on 7th Street NW. The project site was within the Downtown Historic District that DCPL had campaigned to establish in 1987, and adjacent to Chinatown. Although DCPL and other organizations expended considerable time and effort in opposition to the arena and in favor of a 24-hour, mixed-use project for that site, the arena was ultimately built at Gallery Place, and today is known as Capital One Arena. Nevertheless, the efforts of DCPL and others in this case helped establish a sound protocol for the review of such projects in the future, including a Memorandum of Agreement that codified a mitigation plan that contained, among other things, the reopening of long-closed sections of city streets that were part of the original L’Enfant plan for the city.
In 1998, the construction of a new convention center north of Mount Vernon Square was proposed. DCPL was a key player in creating the Memorandum of Agreement that provided a $1,000,000 revolving fund for exterior improvements to historic buildings in the vicinity of the project, additional funds to clean and repair the Carnegie Library, and an eighteen-month moratorium on demolition or significant alteration of nearby buildings in order to allow for the submission of landmark nominations.
Notable educational programs of this era included a long-running lecture series sponsored by Hines Interests (1986-1996), as well as collaborative programs on Heritage Tourism – co-sponsored with the Heritage Tourism Coalition – and Making Money with Preservation – co-sponsored with the DC Building Industry Association – in 1997. In 1998, a workshop on Strengthening Preservation Enforcement led to the formation of the citywide Coalition for Greater Preservation Enforcement, now called the DC Historic Districts Coalition.
DCPL furthered its advocacy mission by lobbying the DC Council to remove hurdles to the landmark designation process, and adopt legislation prohibiting “demolition by neglect.” In 1997, the League lobbied the council to adopt legislation authorizing a Historic Preservation Tax Credit. This program was finally funded and implemented in 2007, and has since been converted into the DC Historic Homeowner Grant Program administered by HPO.