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Barbara Reich, 84; Restored Buildings on Capitol Hill

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Barbara Held Reich, 84, a real estate agent who helped lead the restoration movement on Capitol Hill, died Oct. 13 at her home in Washington. She had dementia.

Mrs. Reich was born in Harrisonburg, Va., and moved to Washington as a girl. She was a graduate of the old Western High School and studied music and history at Georgetown University.

She directed children's and adult choirs at Georgetown Lutheran Church, where her father, Harold E. Beatty, was pastor for many years. She later helped direct the Montrose Park nursery school.

After her first marriage, to Peter Held, she moved to New York, where she was a model at the Bonwit Teller department store and also worked at an orphanage.

Returning to Washington after her divorce, she opened a real estate agency, Barbara Held Inc., on Capitol Hill in the early 1950s. The eclectic antique decor of her office was featured in a 1970 article in The Washington Post: "The foyer is wallpapered in burlap, the main office walls are done in unfinished plaster. With soft green carpets, the effect is rustic warmth."

She and her second husband, Robert Reich, restored a number of residential and commercial buildings on Capitol Hill. She received the Capitol Hill Community Achievement Award and was an early supporter of the Capitol Hill Association of Merchants & Professionals.

She helped establish the Pennsylvania Avenue Progress Association and helped an effort to restore Eastern Market in the 1970s. She was a founder of the Market Row Association business group.

Mrs. Reich enjoyed theater and was a founding member of the Friends of the Folger, a support group for the Folger Shakespeare Library. She often supplied props and furniture for plays at the Folger.

She was a 50-year member of Christ Episcopal Church in Georgetown and was a Sunday school teacher and member of the vestry. She was a founding member of the board of the Friends of St. Benedict, which aims to promote the teachings of St. Benedict, and was a board member of Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a group that provides assistance to at-risk young people.

Her second husband died in 1982.

Survivors include a daughter from her first marriage, Catherine Held of Washington.

-- Matt Schudel

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