HARRY WARDMAN, the transplanted British carpenter who found his way to Washington in 1895, when he was 23, was a genius at the real estate game. He made $300,000 in a single, hectic week trading properties in 1905 and, who knows, he may have lost a similar sum the week after. But Wardman was not just a colorful speculator -- his achievements as a builder left a lasting imprint on the nation's capital. From the early 1900s to the 1930s, when the Depression slowed him down, Wardman and his skilled architects were responsible for about 3,000 new residential buildings in the nation's capital. Most were solidly built, attractive rowhouses that became the backbone of D.C. neighborhoods. An exhibition on view in the high, narrow, intriguing space between the original District Building and its recent addition tells parts of the fascinating Wardman story by focusing on his contributions to three of those neighborhoods: Bloomingdale, Brightwood/Fort Stevens and Columbia Heights.

-- Benjamin Forgey

"Celebrating a Century of Wardman Row-House Neighborhoods" is on view at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, through Oct. 31. (The building is most conveniently accessed from the back, in the 1300 block of D Street NW.) Free. For more information, call 202-783-5144.


IT'S ALWAYS A PLEASURE to come across the latest selection of drawings from the National Gallery's Armand Hammer collection, which rotate through a tiny gallery on the ground floor of the West Building. The latest assortment of drawings, chosen from the collection's impressionist and post-impressionist holdings, has the odd effect of making clear how much those movements depended on paint. The drawings of Renoir, Cassatt and Manet -- surprisingly, even of Gauguin and van Gogh -- feel like bare skeletons of works of art, waiting to be given flesh by paint. That's not so true, however, of the drawings by Degas and Cezanne shown here. The trademark vision of those two seems to stay intact, regardless of the medium they're working in.

-- Blake Gopnik

"Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Drawings From the Armand Hammer Collection" is in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art, at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue NW, through Nov. 13. Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m; Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, call 202-737-4215 or visit


DUMBARTON CHURCH IS among the loveliest and most intimate places in Washington to hear a concert -- and it ought to be an especially congenial setting for the spare and ethereal performances of early music offered by the Palestrina Choir. Since this 16-voice ensemble was founded in 1986, it has presented more than 100 works by the Italian Renaissance composer for whom it is named -- Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina -- including 22 of his masses. Saturday, the program will include the "Missa Ave Maria," as well as music by Josquin and Victoria.

-- Tim Page

At Dumbarton Church, 3133 Dumbarton St. NW. Saturday at 8 p.m. $28. For information, call 202-965-2000 or visit


THE WORK OF the late Garson Kanin, currently represented at Arena Stage with his capital comedy "Born Yesterday," gets a broader examination at Arena with a Kanin mini-festival. The Old Vat Room will be the setting for staged readings of two lesser-known Kanin plays: "Remembering Mr. Maugham" and "Peccadillo." Some of the playwright's personal effects are on exhibit in the Fichandler lobby, and a discussion of his legacy will take place with, among others, New York Daily News theater critic Howard Kissel.

-- Peter Marks

At Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW. "Peccadillo" is Friday at 8 p.m. "Remembering Mr. Maugham" is Saturday at 8 p.m. Think Tank discussion is Sunday at 5 p.m. All events are free, but reservations are required. Call 202-488-3300 or visit