But Boese has a different view.
“Petworth and Parkview are historic black neighborhoods,” he said. “Since 1948 that has been true, but in the beginning of the 19th century, it had a strong German population. In the 20th century it was white Protestant, then there was an influx of Jewish families, and then it became African Americans, and now it is diverse.”
“Whether this building becomes a historic landmark or not, I just want it to be evaluated,” Boese said. “There is no intention to displace the church. The building has been used as a church since 1954. There is nothing about the present to prevent it from being a church.”
According to documents filed with the application to the historical preservation board, the York was the result of the combined vision of architect Reginald W. Geare and builder Harry M. Crandall. Geare had designed six theaters including the Lincoln and the Knickerbocker theaters. When it was built, the York was the neighborhood jewel of an all-white, family-oriented community. While the building exterior was designed to be simple, the interior was trimmed in black, silver and gold.
Between 1948 and 1950, Parkview and Petworth changed as white families moved out and black families moved in. Demographic shifts and construction of theaters such as the Tivoli meant the end for the York and other venues, according to the documents. In 1957, the National Evangelistic Center purchased the building and it became the third home to Evangel Temple. Bishop Walter Meares and his congregation worshiped there for 14 years before moving to a new home on Rhode Island Avenue NE. In 1977, Groover and his flock moved into the facility.
But not all members of ANC 1A agreed with Boese that the church should be designated a historic landmark. Commissioner Lenwood Johnson came to the Groover news conference and apologized for the ANC’s 4 to 2 vote in favor of the historic designation for the church.
“I am embarrassed that the ANC took this action without talking to the church. I am here to fight with you.”
The preservation board plans to schedule a hearing on the application in November, and on Sunday, Boese said that he would still like to meet with Groover and leaders of the church to reach an agreement on the issue. The church can alter the interior of the building but not the outside.
Groover said that the process is frustrating.
“They are making it very difficult for us to remain in the city in terms of parking and everything,” he said. “Right now, we can’t get any more permits unless we go through them, even though it is not designated as a historic landmark.”