St. Elizabeths Walking Tour – December 15, 2012

St. Elizabeths Walking Tour
Saturday, December 15, 2012
10:00am – 12:o0pm

Click here to register.

Join the DC Preservation League in partnership with the General Services Administration for a walking tour of the historic west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, a National Historic Landmark. Tours of the St. Elizabeths campus are being offered on a limited basis depending on the course of construction activity.

Space is limited and reservations are required. Because of security issues walk-ons will not be permitted on the tour.

Click here to register.


Once a bank and a nightclub, historic F Street building readies for next step

by John Muller, May 3, 2012 10:21am, Greater Greater Washington

>>>Read original article.


“Is this a nightclub, again?” a passerby asked last week, walking along the 900 block of F Street NW. “Nope, DC Preservation League party,” a middle-aged man said as he walked through the wood doors to the Equitable Building at 915 F Street NW, formerly the Platinum nightclub.

Once an innovative community bank, the property has been vacant for the past year. Douglas Development Corporation purchased this historic building last fall and plans to redevelop it, potentially as part of an emerging fashion district in the area.

“This is a significant building to F Street,” said DCPL’s Executive Director Rebecca Miller. “It’s a mix of eclectic and classic architectural styles that over the years has maintained its integrity. This is one of only 15 interiors designated an historic landmark in the city.”

“People cherish their recent memories of this building as a nightclub, but this was one of the first progressive community banks in Washington,” said John DeFerrari of Streets of Washington, who attended the Preservation League fundraiser.

According to DeFerrari, the Equitable Co-Operative Building was built in 1912, and was the headquarters for the Equitable Co-Operative Building Association. Equitable was a pioneering thrift institution co-founded by John Joy Edson, a leading financier and philanthropist who believed that facilitating home ownership would provide stability to the city by improving its housing stock.

In 1985, Equitable moved out of the city. A nightclub called The Bank moved into the space and proceeded to remove the mahogany teller counters to make space for a dance floor. Within a couple years, the Fifth Column, another dance club, moved in and featured avant garde artwork juxtaposed against the restrained elegance of the building’s original architecture. In 1995, Fifth Column closed. Before the end of the decade, Platinum nightclub debuted, but by 2008 it, too, closed.

Despite the changes in the building over the years, the architectural value of the building and its interiors remain intact.

“You’re never going to see this type of craftsmanship,” said John D. Bellingham of Monarc Construction and President of DCPL’s Board of Trustees, remarking on the dentil molding, cornices, and frieze architecture.

“It’s proven that a city that retains its historic character attracts more tourists,” Bellingham said while lamenting “slap-happy” renovations that can do more to distort historic preservation than support it.

“Walking into this place is like walking into the National Portrait Gallery,” said Douglas Jemal, president of Douglas Development Corporation, as his eyes scanned the interior. “Look at the grandeur. This is a special place and deserves a special tenant. None of that strip mall [expletive].”

Noting clothier Ralph Lauren as a possible tenant, Jemal said there is a growing interest among European and American fashion retailers to establish a presence in Washington. Forever 21, H&M, and Zara have stores nearby.

Whether the Equitable Building becomes part of an reemerging downtown fashion district or an upscale restaurant, preservationists agree the development of the Equitable Building will retain the neighborhood’s historic character.

“Like so much of the city, I’d love to see another old ghost of a building get a second chance at a new life,” said another preservationist. “Saving buildings like this one preserves the soul of our city and keeps us connected.”

Reinterpreting Dumbarton House – May 23rd, 2012

Reinterpreting Dumbarton House
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
2715 Que Street, NW

Click here to register.

Attribution: Wikipedia

How does the staff at this historic house museum accurately interpret the lives of its early residents? Explore this question with Dumbarton House Museum Curator, S. Scott Scholz through a “behind the scenes” tour of one of Georgetown’s historic gems. Highlights will include information on the museum’s on-going research, preservation, and restoration efforts. In addition, master preservation craftsmen will discuss paint analysis and methods for restoring plaster and paint at historic homes.

$15 for members (DCPL and DH/NSCDA);
$25 for non-members.

Space is Limited!

Click here to register.


Historic Preservation 101/201

Historic Preservation 101/201
Friday, May 18, 2012
Gallaudet University, Kellogg Conference Center
800 Florida Avenue, NE
9:00am – 12:00pm

Click here to register.

Historic Preservation 101 provides a brief history of the DC historic preservation movement, advice on how to navigate the historic district requirements, tips on historic preservation funding and the value of façade easements.

Historic Preservation 201 delves deeper in to the process of designating historic landmarks and districts, renovation of a historic property, the historic preservation review process and integration historic resources with new construction.

No Cost 3 Hour Continuing Education Credit Available to
DC Real Estate Licensees and DC Real Estate Appraiser Licensee
$60 to Non Licensees

Click here to register.


St. Elizabeths West Campus Walking Tour

Must Sign Up By Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 14!

St. Elizabeths West Campus Walking Tour
Saturday, May 18, 2013

Join the DC Preservation League in partnership with the General Services Administration for a walking tour of the historic west campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, a National Historic Landmark. Tours of St. Elizabeths campus are being offered on a limited basis depending on the course of construction activity.

Space is limited and reservations are required.

Because of security issues walk-ons will not be permitted on the tour.

Click here to register.

Wonder Bread Building Becomes DC Landmark

At its November 17th hearing, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to include Dorsch’s White Cross Bakery (also known as the Wonder Bread Factory), 641 S Street, NW, as an individual landmark in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites. The nomination was co-sponsored by DCPL and Douglas Development Corporation (the building’s owner).

Read more

We Need Your Help!

The New Year is upon us and DCPL’s Education Committeeis gearing up to plan the 2012 program calendar. Conception and coordination of programs is vitally important to the organization’s mission, and is a great opportunity to be an important part of DCPL. Join the Education Committee as we sketch out the upcoming year’s tours, lectures and conference sessions. The success of such programs is in a large part due to people like you who give of their time, knowledge, and or skills. Join us at our January 2012 meeting and help educate DCPL’s members and the public on the benefits of historic preservation.

Please contact Amanda McDonald at for more information and meeting times.

A Look Back at 2011

In its 40th Anniversary year, the DC Preservation League (DCPL) has been as busy as ever!

We filed landmark nominations on several buildings including the Recorder of Deeds (515 D Street, NW), and the Old Naval Observatory/Potomac Annex (23rd and E Streets, NW). DCPL’s staff and board members presented testimony to DC Council on agency oversight and to the Historic Preservation Review Board on development projects throughout the city.  We also spearheaded advocacy efforts to ensure that plans for the re-use of the National Historic Landmark St. Elizabeths East Campus and improvements to the Great Hall at Union Station use sound preservation practices; both projects that will continue into 2012.


DC Preservation League brings Shaw neighborhood’s Wonder Bread Factory back to life

By jmullerwashingtonsyndicate on April 27, 2011, The Washington Syndicate.

>>>Read original article.

Last week the DC Preservation League celebrated their 40th Anniversary by throwing a lively party at the long dormant Wonder Bread Factory at 641 S Street NW in the Shaw neighborhood, a half block east of 7th Street and the Shaw-Howard University metro station.

Despite concerns the building would not be ready in time for the party and a city inspector declaring the property “structurally unsafe” last month, more than three hundred DCPL supporters joined leaders of the city’s development and preservationist communities to celebrate the former bakery. The building has been out of commission for the past 25 years according to the preservation league.

“It was pulled off with a lot of work by Douglas Development getting the space ready for the event. Four solid weeks of fixing a failed beam, holes in the flooring, and water damage,” says Rebecca Miller, DCPL’s Executive Director. Recalling a similar incident, a venue in Daytona Beach once faced a postponement due to the discovery of water damage’s aftereffects. The quick thinking to call for mold testing Washington DC professionals ensured that the structural integrity and health standards were upheld, much like the diligent restoration work Rebecca Miller describes.

“I thought they might be handing out hard hats,” said Audra, a new DCPL member who joined after seeing a recent ad on Groupon and plans to become more involved with the city’s preservation efforts after being in the city for nearly 15 years.

In recognition of Wonder Bread’s well-known “Builds Strong Bodies 12 Ways” slogan, throughout the first floor’s two main rooms the preservation league spray painted the walls with the 12 ways that historic preservation builds strong cities: strengthening economic development, advancing sustainability, promoting tourism and partnerships, reinforcing culture, building community, encouraging citizen engagement, increasing property values, providing a sense of place, producing local taxes and revenues, educating current and future generations and creating jobs.

“It’s important that everyone understands that preservation is more than just downtown. It’s across the entire city, and each neighborhood is unique,” says Miller.

Founded in 1971 as “Don’t Tear It Down,” DCPL hosts its annual gala in a dormant city building, warehouse, theater or other site ever year. There was open discussion and anticipation by gala goers that next year’s party will be thrown in Dupont Circle’s underground trolley station which in recent years has drawn the attention of local artists. “We haven’t even thought about next year’s party – ask me that in September,” said Miller.


History of the Wonder Bread Factory

The Wonder Bread Factory (White Cross Bakery) is a complex of seven industrial buildings completed between 1913 and 1936. Established by Peter Dorsch, the White Cross Bakery was purchased by the Continental Baking Company in 1936. The Continental Baking Company began purchasing bakeries in Washington in 1924. During Continental’s ownership of 641 S Street they produced Wonder Bread and Hostess Cakes.

According to Streets of Washington, “The oldest section of the building was built in 1913 as an expansion to an existing bakery run by Peter M. Dorsch (1878-1959) at 1811 7th Street NW. Dorsch had previously worked at bakeries with his younger brothers at various locations in D.C., including K Street in Southwest, Virginia Avenue, and Georgetown, before settling on the upper 7th Street site for his own business. Born in D.C., he was the son of a Bavarian immigrant, Michael Dorsch, who had come to Washington in the 1870s and sold imported German foods before opening a restaurant on 7th Street.”

Douglas Development Corporation, headed by the city’s reigning, yet sometimes controversial, teflon developmentmaverick and tycoon Douglas Jemal since 1985, currently owns the property. A search of the city’s property records show the property was purchased in October 1997. It is currently assessed by the city at $6,810,580. According to the evening’s program the property “is currently being marketed for adaptive reuse” which according to numerous people I spoke with and a report last fall in the City Paper indicate condos are coming, but there seems to be no immediate timeline or plans.

The long awaited development of the northwest corner of 7th & S Street is now finally ongoing with Progression Place which plans offices, flats, and shops. Construction teams have been working steadily since December and have now nearly dug out and secured the foundation. When this project begins to take tenants it would only logically strengthen the desire and ability to read more about it all as well as secure financing on the Wonder Bread Factory site for similar uses as Progression Place or strictly residential units with commercial on the first floor.

Memories of the Wonder Bread Factory

“When I would take the street car to Griffith Stadium as a child from my NE neighborhood you knew you were getting close when you began to smell the bread and the bakeries. You could close your eyes and know when you were within three blocks,” said Dr. Sandy Berk, distinguished by his white shirt and jacket adorned with the same small tri-color circles that mark a loaf of Wonder Bread.

“DC wasn’t known as being an industrial city. This building is an example of one of the few early 20th century examples in the middle of a residential neighborhood,” said Howard Berger, a former DCPL trustee and current architectural historian.

“This is a really great and strong structure. You don’t see this type or cast iron work anymore,” said Wilford Williams, a member of the large security team that protected the entrances of the factory and were asked by nearly everyone who passed by on the street what was going on inside.

“When it closed it was a sad event. A lot of people depended on them. Wonder Bread has always been a number one seller. It beats Sunbeam and giant brand. You know that Wonder Bread makes the best sandwich and their prices are reasonable,” said Williams.

At a table Eric Wingerter, 6th & S Street NW, and Martin Multon (the 39th citizen recently arrested by the Capitol Police), 5th & P Street NW, spoke about their memories years ago of being excited when a restaurant would open on 14th Street NW. They agreed the neighborhood continues to lack a variety of food options and would like to see a restaurant included in future development plans.

“It’s great to be here and have it alive. For too many years this has been a landmark in the neighborhood for the wrong reasons,” said Wingerter.

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