Preservation League Lists D.C.'s 'Most Endangered Places'

By Theola Labbé-DeBose
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The large house at 619 D St. SE dates to 1795; its windows are boarded up, moss grows on its bricks. The Maples, also known as Friendship House, is one of six locales announced yesterday on the D.C. Preservation League's annual list of "Most Endangered Places."

Since 1996, the league has compiled a list of sites it considers to be of historic, cultural and architectural significance that are threatened by neglect, demolition or other pressures. Some of the previous listings have received more attention.

For example, Battleground National Cemetery, in the 6000 block of Georgia Avenue NW, listed in 2005, will get some improvements through the recently approved federal stimulus package, officials said.

John D. Bellingham, president of the league's board, said that a yearly reminder of the city's past brings needed publicity. "It's an important part of our history," he said. "You can remodel them, but you can't replicate them."

After collecting community suggestions, the league sifts through the nominations and votes, releasing its choices each spring.

Friendship House went from being the grand estate of a slave owner to home of a social services program that served minority women and children before it was vacated.

"It's a wonderful sweep of history that people should know," said Nancy Metzger, who chairs the Historic Preservation Committee of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society.

The other 2009 selections:

-- Foundry Branch Trolley Trestle, in Glover Park, north of Canal Road. According to the league, the trestle is one of only two remaining bridges along the former trolley line linking Georgetown to Glen Echo.

-- Third Church of Christ, Scientist, 900 16th St. NW, was on the list last year. Its Brutalist style of architecture has stirred debate since it was built in 1971. A developer plans to demolish it and construct an office building, the league said.

-- Barney Circle neighborhood, Potomac Avenue SE to the north, 17th Street SE to the east, Kentucky Avenue SE to the west and Pennsylvania Avenue SE to the south. The neighborhood was also listed last year. In recent years, according to the league, rowhouses have been expanded with third-story additions called pop-ups.

-- Meads Row, 1305-1331 H St. NE. Named for builder Charles C. Meads, the owner of two buildings on the block proposes tearing them down and creating parking space for restaurants and a performing arts theater, the league said.

-- Superintendent's House-Dalecarlia Reservoir, Washington Aqueduct, 5211 Little Falls Rd. NW. An 1875 residence designed by Montgomery C. Meigs, engineer of the Washington Aqueduct.

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