“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
Over the last 50-years, DCPL has sponsored more than 160 historic landmark nominations, and engaged in hard-fought battles for numerous buildings, structures, and districts across Washington. In recent years, DCPL’s landmark nomination efforts have reflected a diverse assortment of building types and sites with cultural importance to a wide variety of groups.
DCPL has also collaborated with HPO and other partners on in-depth assessments of the historical legacies of underrepresented groups in the District of Columbia, including context studies and multiple property documents describing 20th Century African American Civil Rights Sites in Washington, DC, 1912-1974; Black Power in 20th Century Washington, DC; and the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Washington, DC from 1848-1973. DCPL’s 2021 nomination of the Nixon-Mounsey House in the Palisades, designated in 2022, relates to 20th Century African American Civil Rights history, as does the DCPL-sponsored nomination for the Kelsey Temple Church of God in Christ in Columbia Heights, designated in 2016. Also in collaboration with HPO, DCPL worked to identify sites of importance to the history of the LGBTQ+ community in Washington, sponsoring Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse in Dupont Circle for designation as a historic landmark, as well as the Slowe-Burrill House in Brookland. These joined the Dr. Franklin E. Kameny House in the Palisades and the Furies Collective in Capitol Hill – also supported by DCPL – as landmarks associated with LGBTQ+ history in the District. DCPL is also co-sponsoring an ongoing project to identify, document, and preserve the history of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in Washington.
In 2020, in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, DCPL once again reinvented its programming to include online webinars covering various historic preservation and local history topics.
As the historic preservation movement has matured, it has become an accepted element of public policy nationwide. In the District of Columbia, Don’t Tear It Down/DCPL can take substantial credit for this accomplishment. Over the past 50-years, the organization has worked tirelessly to preserve Washington’s sense of place and to save many of the unique features that define the capital city’s history, architecture, and culture. Washington’s historic character is one of its greatest assets and a vital component of local culture, and economic growth and prosperity.
DCPL continues to make an inestimable contribution to the protection and understanding of the history of the District of Columbia. Every member and supporter has a right to be proud of this legacy. Continuing to preserve, protect, and enhance the historic and built environment of Washington, DC through advocacy and education remains DCPL’s greatest challenge as it looks forward to its next 50-years of service.