Exploring History Online Virtual Workshop (June 3, 2020)
Led by DCPL staff, this virtual workshop teaches viewers how to explore the history of your house, neighborhood, or favorite historic site from home! It includes information about helpful online resources such as maps, newspaper databases, repositories for historic photographs, and more.
Flood Risks to Historic Structures (August 26, 2020)
Overdevelopment, sea level rise, and increased precipitation associated with climate change are increasing the frequency and severity of coastal, riverine, and urban flood hazards. Compounding this issue, historic buildings located on sites that are susceptible to flooding often also contain numerous vulnerabilities to heighten the risk of substantial flood-related damage. This webinar, led by Adam Rush, P.E., Senior Consulting Engineer with Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, explored historical and contemporary flood mitigation solutions within the context of historic preservation and increasing flood resilience. This presentation also discussed the actions local communities and governments are taking to address this problem and how regulation changes impact historic preservation projects.
(October 1, 2020)
Contemporary Photographic Documentation of America’s Historic Architecture
This webinar was led by Large Format Photographer Jarob Ortiz and HABS Architect Paul Davidson from the Heritage Documentation Programs (HABS/HAER/HALS) of the National Park Service. It discussed the Heritage Documentation Programs’ photographic practices for recording historic structures across the nation and the program’s traditional method of utilizing large format analog photography to produce highly detailed archival products. Accompanying this discussion was the topic of digital photography; how the program is transitioning into born digital formats; and how the program’s architects are utilizing its advantages in ways that most people overlook.
Landmark Nominations: From Inspiration to Designation (October 29, 2020)
A completed landmark nomination form can seem like a master’s thesis with an income tax return pasted in. DCPL Trustee and Landmarks Committee Chair Peter Sefton, who’s prepared many successful nominations, presents some straightforward strategies for preparing a successful nomination efficiently and expeditiously. He describes how to navigate the life cycle of a nomination from inspiration to designation, as well as effective research and writing approaches that cut through the complexities of the National Register form. He also discusses the critical and sometimes neglected role of outreach and community participation in every landmark designation.
The Legacy of Streetcars in Washington, DC (November 10, 2020)
For 100 years, from 1862 to 1962, streetcars were a vital element of the District’s transportation infrastructure. The development of streetcar lines enabled the development of many of the city’s neighborhoods outside of the downtown core. For decades, streetcars were the primary means of commuting for most Washingtonians. Now, more than half a century after streetcar service ended, there are still many reminders of the streetcar system around the city, and some of these historic structures are threatened. Historian, author, and DCPL trustee John DeFerrari discussed the colorful history of streetcars in the nation’s capital as well as the remnants of the streetcar system that have survived and their preservation status.
47th Annual DC History Conference: "Historic Preservation: Of the People, For the People, By the People?" (November 13, 2020)
DC’s built environment reflects the diverse layers of history of its residents, but landmark listings on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites or National Register of Historic Places often fail to represent all those histories. In recent years, there has been an invigorated effort by preservationists, local organizations, and community members to promote and protect the many stories represented in Washington’s historic places. This initiative requires identifying and nominating sites important to communities who have historically gone underrepresented in the Inventory and National Register.
In addition to the DC Preservation League’s Executive Director Rebecca Miller, panelists from the 1882 Foundation, Quinn Evans, Prologue DC, LLC., and the DC Historic Preservation Office explored the process of ensuring local and national protection of the places these projects recognize; identified obstacles that may arise; discussed the role of community activism in these initiatives; and delved into the importance of having these sites and their associated histories protected as historic landmarks or districts.
2020 District of Columbia Awards for Excellence in Historic Preservation (November 18, 2020)
Since 2003, more than 100 outstanding preservation projects and dozens of individuals and organizations have been recognized for their exceptional contributions in support of historic preservation in Washington, DC. Awards are presented in the following categories: Stewardship, Volunteerism and Community Involvement, Education, Design and Construction, as well as the State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award, HPRB Chair Awards, and Individual Lifetime Achievement.
Hosted by the DC Preservation League, the DC Office of Planning, and the DC State Historic Preservation Office.
"Images of America: Washington Canoe Club" with Christopher Brown (December 8, 2020)
In this virtual presentation, author Christopher N. Brown explores his new book, “Images of America: Washington Canoe Club.” This photographic tour invites readers to learn more about the Washington Canoe Club- a landmark on the Georgetown waterfront of the nation’s capital for over a century. Its iconic Victorian boathouse, now listed in the National Register of Historic Places, has survived floods and fires as well as changing land uses along the Potomac shoreline. In addition to exploring his work and the Club’s history, Christopher also delves in to current preservation efforts to save this historic site.
Visit the Washington Canoe Club’s website today to see more details and purchasing options for this book. Proceeds of all book sales will be donated to the boathouse restoration effort.
St. Elizabeths Hospital Virtual Tour with the DC Preservation League (January 27, 2021)
Rebecca Miller, Executive Director of the DC Preservation League, leads the organization’s first-ever virtual tour of St. Elizabeths Hospital. This program explores the fascinating history of the country’s first federally funded mental health hospital and discuss the preservation of its campus and buildings.
Since its founding in 1852, the campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital has had an important impact on the treatment of the mentally ill in the United States. Sited on a wooded ridge in the Anacostia Hills, this National Historic Landmark consists of buildings, landscapes, and viewsheds that convey the history and significance of this 350 acre campus. The 350 acre campus is in various phases of mixed use development and is a living example of how public attitudes and policy shape the built environment and how the built environment can shape public attitudes.
Riding Through the Past: New Metrobus Tours on the DC Historic Sites App (February 24, 2021)
Led by DC Preservation League, this presentation explores “Riding Through the Past”– a series of new bus tours on the DC Historic Sites mobile app and website.
In 1976, Don’t Tear It Down (DTID) published a series of brochures on various public bus routes across the nation’s capital, titled “Take One Tour.” They aimed to make riders aware of the historic sites along their bus route. Today, the DC Preservation League continues its predecessor’s work with a series of digital tours offered on the organization’s mobile app. These tours take inspiration from “Take One Tour” and encourage present-day Washingtonians to explore the history of DC’s built environment on their everyday commute.
The recording of this presentation is being used for the National Council on Public History’s 2021 Annual Meeting. DCPL Staff will be leading a live Q&A about Riding Through the Past for NCPH on March 26th at 12:30pm. Learn more about the conference.
[The app can be downloaded from Google Play and the Apple App Store]
The Slowe-Burrill House with EHT Traceries, Inc. (March 30, 2021)
The event included a presentation on the history and significance of two remarkable African American women who were pioneers in local education in the early twentieth century: Lucy Diggs Slowe and Mary Powell Burrill. They resided at their house on Kearny Street NE from 1922-1937. The presentation discussed the careers of both women and explain their 15 year occupancy of the house, where Lucy Slowe and Mary Burrill hosted parties and intellectual gatherings attended by female Howard students and prominent writers and artists, including Jean Toomer and Georgia Douglas Johnson.
On December 18, 2019 the DC Preservation League (DCPL) in partnership with homeowners Ben and Dawn O’Connell submitted the nomination prepared by EHT Traceries, Inc. On April 30, 2020, the Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to designate the Slowe-Burrill house.
A Journey Across America...Starting at the Willard Hotel with Carol M. Highsmith (April 6, 2021)
On April 6, 2021, the DC Preservation League had the chance to speak with photographer, author, and publisher Carol M. Highsmith to learn more about her work.
Carol Highsmith has been visually documenting Washington, DC architecture for the past forty-one years. She started her career in the Willard Hotel in 1980, taking images of the wreck it had become (see above). She then continued down Pennsylvania Avenue and spent seventeen years documenting the rebuilding of the Willard, which included taking aerials at least once a month. She also documented the rebuilding of Union Station and produced a book about its history: http://carolhighsmithamerica.com/
Carol has been traveling across the country and visually documenting America for her Library of Congress collection since the mid-1980s. She is honored to say her collection is one of the twenty-one featured digital collections–and she is the only living person whose work is included in that archive.
Diversifying the DC Inventory: Past and Present (April 20, 2021)
This program, led by DC Preservation League staff, explored past and current initiatives to create a more inclusive and diverse DC Inventory of Historic Sites.
DCPL’s Public History Fellow Kate Morgan began the program with a look at the groundbreaking work of the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation (ABC). Formed in 1970 by Vincent and Robert DeFor(r)est, the ABC advocated for increased representation in the American historical narrative leading up to the Bicentennial. The ABC’s foundational work in social justice challenged the local Washington, DC historic preservation movement in the 1970s to reflect diverse historical narratives in the built environment. While there is still much work to be done in diversifying the inventory of historic places, the ABC acted as an impetus for modernizing historic preservation efforts in the nation’s capital, as well as across the country.
Executive Director Rebecca Miller then spoke to past and contemporary DCPL initiatives to recognize and preserve historic resources currently underrepresented in the DC Inventory. Through collaborative projects with the DC Historic Preservation Office and community groups, DCPL has worked to make sure that Black history, women’s history, Asian American history, LGBTQ+ history–and more–are reflected in the fabric of our nation’s capital.
"Endangered District: 50 Years of Preservation" Mini-Documentary Premiere (April 27, 2021)
Starting in 1996, the DC Preservation League began putting out an annual list of “Most Endangered Places,” those significant sites which may be threatened with ill-advised alteration or demolition. During the spring 2021 semester, students from American University’s Public History Practicum class researched the historic preservation movement in Washington, DC and looked at places included on this “Most Endangered” list. They selected a handful of sites to explore in more detail and spoke with some the individuals involved in protecting these important locations. Following the premiere of the program, the students who worked on the project—Sajel Schwartz, Shae Corey, and Michael Jacobs— answered audience questions about their project.
The New Deal and Parks in Washington, D.C. with the Living New Deal (May 6, 2021)
In partnership with the Washington Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC), Washington Architectural Foundation, and District Architecture Center, the DC Preservation League hosted a presentation by the Living New Deal about their recently published map identifying works of the New Deal in Washington, DC: https://livingnewdeal.org/washington-dc-map-guide/
The New Deal transformed the nation’s capital in a brief decade, 1933-42. It realized the civic dreams of the L’Enfant and McMillan Plans: completion of the Federal Triangle, development of the capital parks, and renovation of the National Mall as the centerpiece of the city. Director of the Living New Deal, Richard Walker, and Project Historian, Brent McKee, highlighted the many historic landscapes in DC influenced by the New Deal.
“Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to The Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure!” with JoAnn Hill (May 20, 2021)
In this webinar, author JoAnn Hill explores her new book, “Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to The Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure!”
Hill’s book covers a wide array of locations and historical events throughout the greater Washington, DC area, including many that are outside, distance-friendly, and/or free! So much of the DC area’s richness and beauty emanates from its parks, gardens, and urban green oases. Several of these green spaces that will be highlighted include International Park in Northwest DC, Chuck Brown Memorial Park in Northeast DC, the National Arboretum’s collection of bonsai and penjing trees, including the one that survived the bombing of Hiroshima, the Enchantment Forest at Clark’s Elioak Park in Ellicott City, and the history behind how Arlington Cemetery was built upon General Robert E. Lee’s estate and garden.
Rehabilitating a Historic Landscape: Meridian Hill Park/Malcolm X Park with Consigli Construction (May 26, 2021)
Meridian Hill Park/Malcolm X Park is a 12-acre formal Italian-styled landscape designed and built between 1912 and 1936. During this presentation Consigli Construction’s Phil Brault, Project Executive and DCPL Trustee, and Assistant Project Manager, Naomi Doddington, showed attendees the restoration work their firm is leading in the park. This included work that is already completed, challenges they have faced working in this unique landmark, upcoming work, and what can be expected of the final product.
Virtual Home and Garden Tour: 3020 University Terrace NW/The Bazelon-McGovern House (May 21, 2021)
3020 University Terrace is a two-story wood-frame and stucco house, designed in a mid-century modern style, with a distinctive overlay of Japanese stylistic elements. Japanese-inspired plantings and garden elements surround the house on all sides. This residence was previously owned by David Bazelon, Chief Judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as Senator (and Presidential candidate) George McGovern.
In collaboration with owner Gordon Kit, the DC Preservation League filed a landmark nomination for the property at 3020 University Terrace NW in October 2020. On February 25, 2021, the Historic Preservation Review Board voted to add the Bazelon-McGovern House to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites. For this program, Kit leads a virtual tour of his home and garden!
Washington’s Most Historic Restaurants with John DeFerrari
(June 17, 2021)
Thousands of restaurants have operated in the District of Columbia since the first ones appeared along Pennsylvania Avenue in the early 19th century. Most have been forgotten, but a few have achieved historic status because of the exceptional cultural impact they have had on our local community. Some of these have been designated historic landmarks. Historian and DCPL Trustee, John DeFerrari, discussed some of the most prominent of the city’s historic restaurants, from crowd pleasers like Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Old Ebbitt Grill to neighborhood favorites such as the Monocle on Capitol Hill, and Martin’s Tavern in Georgetown.
Shaw: Then and Now with Alexander Padro and Shaw Main Streets
(June 30, 2021)
Washington, DC’s historic Shaw neighborhood has seen dramatic changes in the past two decades. Many residents and visitors only know today’s Shaw. But what did the neighborhood look like in decades past? What did buildings that now are home to popular bars and restaurants look like back in the day? What stood where new housing and contemporary landmarks like the Walter E. Washington Convention Center are today? And what familiar places still look just like ‘Duke’ Ellington knew them?
In this webinar, we took a virtual stroll through the past with Shaw historian and Shaw Main Streets Executive Director Alexander M. Padro to discover Shaw’s past through historic and contemporary photographs. Padro also described how historic preservation helped transform a riot-scarred neighborhood into one of DC’s most popular places to live, work, shop, play, pray and learn.
The Takoma Theatre: Its History, Redevelopment, and Future
(July 13, 2021)
The Takoma Theatre has a fascinating history as one of the early movie theaters in the region. Over the decades it served many purposes until eventually falling into disrepair. Rock Creek Property Group acquired the Takoma Theatre in 2015 and worked with Cunningham | Quill Architects to creatively figure out a way to restore the property in a way that highlighted the history and beauty of the original building, complied with local zoning requirements, and would be commercially viable. Speakers included Jenna Jacobson, Director of Development of the Rock Creek Property Group; Maria Casarella, Architect with Cunningham | Quill Architects; and Loretta Neumann, a previous Trustee of DCPL and Founder/President of the Takoma Theatre Conservancy.
The Cultural Impact & Legacy of Black Theatres on DC’s Black Broadway on U (July 22, 2021)
In this webinar Shellée M. Haynesworth, Executive Producer and Creator of the Black Broadway on U: A Transmedia Project, explored the cultural impact and legacy of Black Theatres on DC’s Black Broadway on U Street. She was also joined by Ms. Joyce Ross, who shared stories of her own time hanging out at some of these historic venues.
Launched in February 2014, “Black Broadway on U: A Transmedia Project” is a groundbreaking multi-platform story and public history initiative created to amplify, chronicle, preserve and enhance, the under-told story, cultural legacy, local memories and voices of Washington, D.C.’s marginalized Black community along the historic greater U Street community when it was known as “Black Broadway”, a city within a city.
Barry Farm/Hillsdale: Past, Present, Future (August 18, 2021)
A recent historic landmark designation preserved five aging buildings at Barry Farm Dwellings in Southeast DC. Filled with public housing until 2019, the rest of the complex was razed for redevelopment. This program highlights the rich history these buildings represent, including its recent preservation saga, from the Historic Preservation Office’s determination that the site was ineligible to the persuasion of DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board to landmark the buildings despite their poor condition. But we will also look to the future of the site, asking: what comes after a site has been landmarked?
Exploring the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens (August 31, 2021)
The Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are located in marshland in northeast DC, on the east shore of the Anacostia River. They were created and maintained by Civil War veteran and US Treasury Department employee W.B. Shaw and his daughter, Helen Shaw Fowler, from 1882 to 1938. Although Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are locally important today as a part of Washington’s Park System, their greater significance lies in the contributions to the botanical study and development of water plants and gardens. This virtual presentation was led by Megan Singleton, Communications & Development Associate of Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and Ranger Joe Cashman of the National Park Service.
Bridging DC: 11th Street Bridge Park (September 16, 2021)
The 11th Street Bridge Park, a project of Ward 8-based nonprofit Building Bridges Across the River, will be Washington, DC’s first elevated public park. Located on the piers of the old 11th Street Bridge spanning the Anacostia River, the Bridge Park will be a new venue for healthy recreation, environmental education and the arts. Project Director, Scott Kratz, led a virtual presentation for our audience about this fascinating project. The Bridge Park draws on an extensive community outreach and consultative process, anchored by more than 1,000 stakeholder meetings for design, development and impact.