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Washington Row Houses (Webinar)

November 18, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

1100 Block of Constitution Ave. (Left); Wardman Row Houses in Columbia Heights (Right)


Join the DC Preservation League on Thursday, November 18th at 12:00pm EST for a free webinar about Washington Row Houses!

Row houses are the dominant form of housing in Washington, lining the city’s broad avenues, grid-plan streets, and crowded alleys, helping to define the street plan as much as the monuments and parks for which the city is so famous. Through more than two centuries, they have housed a wide range of middle-income residents of the nation’s capital: government workers, tradesmen, artisans, teachers, lawyers, doctors, merchants, laborers, and so forth.

The focus of the presentation will be on speculatively built houses, those constructed in quantity with confidence that buyers would materialize. They’re an economical form of housing. Usually small-scaled, they have repetitive floor plans and facades, use land efficiently, and require less material and labor to build.

Kim Hoagland will examine row houses of the 19th century and the way that the form evolved in response to various constraints and influences—stylistic preferences, building regulations, concerns for light and air, builder-developers’ capabilities, introduction of utilities and other technologies, and a number of other factors. Sally Berk picks up the story in the 20th century with Harry Wardman, the most prolific residential developer in the history of the city. He made single-family home ownership available to a segment of the population that could not previously afford it, and instituted a new building type that responded to the suburban movement.





Sally Berk has an undergraduate degree in architecture and a graduate degree in historic preservation. She’s been a preservation activist in Washington for more than three decades, winning the city’s award for Lifetime Achievement in Preservation, and serving for three years as president of DCPL. She’s been studying Harry Wardman for decades, having written her thesis about his row houses. With Caroline Mesrobian Hickman, she co-curated the exhibit “A Century of Wardman Row House Neighborhoods” and co-authored a chapter about Wardman in Housing Washington: Two Centuries of Tradition and Innovation, 2010. Her website is wardmanswashington.com

Alison K. (Kim) Hoagland is professor emerita at Michigan Technological University, where she taught history and historic preservation for fifteen years. Previously, she served as the senior historian at the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Park Service. She has written five books on various aspects of American vernacular architecture and is currently working on one on Washington’s row houses. Her involvement with the topic began in 1979, when she volunteered to work on the Downtown Survey being undertaken by the DC Preservation League (then known as Don’t Tear It Down).


November “Rowhouses and Alleys” programs are generously sponsored by Betsy McDaniel, a resident of Bloomingdale and a longtime DCPL supporter. 


November 18, 2021
12:00 pm - 1:15 pm