A plan to move the endangered 183-year-old Rhodes Tavern from 15th and F streets NW to another location to make way for a new office and store complex has collapsed, a citizens committee reported yesterday.
Robert B. Gair, co-president of the Citizens Committee to Preserve Rhodes Tavern and the National Processional Route, said no site could be found and that there were "significant technical and structural obstacles" to moving the building.
In a letter, Gair urged the Oliver T. Carr Co. to give up its city-approved plans to tear down the vacant and forlorn three-story tavern. Instead, he said, the firm should "incorporate Rhodes Tavern into the Metropolitan Square project," which will occupy most of the block bounded by 14th, 15th, F and G streets. The project is about three-quarters completed.
A.P. Hanket, project manager for Carr Co., said, "We still maintain our position of two years ago of moving or demolishing the tavern . It hasn't changed."
Another citizen group, the Citizens Committee to Save Historic Rhodes Tavern, has always had as its goal the preservation and restoration of the building on its present site. Its president, Joseph N. Grano Jr., welcomed the newly announced support of the other committee for preserving the tavern at its current location.
Rhodes Tavern, built about 1800, has been described by historians as Washington's first unofficial town hall. Every inaugural parade since Thomas Jefferson's in 1803 has passed in front of it. A British admiral dined there while watching the White House burn after his forces sacked it in the War of 1812.
The issue of moving the tavern was brought to a head Feb. 1 when Hanket wrote Gair and set a May 1 deadline for clearing the site. He said the Carr Co. would provide $100,000 to help defray the costs.
Gair said yesterday that "such a move would cost greatly in excess of $100,000" even if a site were available.
"If the only choices . . . are to move the building or to raze it, the accumulated record shows that relocation is no longer an option," he wrote. "At the same time, we have always opposed, and continue to most strongly oppose, demolition."