Georgetown said farewell yesterday to its grande dame. Funeral services were held at St. John's Episcopal Church, Georgetown Parish, for Eva Hinton, who to Washingtonians of a particular era -- the 1930s into the 1970s -- was the personification of Georgetown itself. She died last Thursday at the age of 84.
"When Eva was active here, the forces of evil were at bay," said Don Shannon, past president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, in eulogizing Hinton. And after she withdrew from the battles, because of age and infirmity, "she told us who the forces of evil were."
To one who has chronicled Washington's community scene over 29 years, it's hard to remember when Eva Hinton didn't play some role, usually vocal and visible, as the representative and advocate of Georgetown's interests -- and, in many instances, those of Washington residents generally -- as she and her allies perceived them. This newspaper has a thick file folder of pictures of Hinton testifying at hearings.
Many adjectives describe Eva Hinton. Patrician, imperious, abrasive, single-minded, sharp-tongued, dedicated -- those are a few that come to mind. Take it from me as her sometime target, in her invective she was no less sparing of reporters who sought to achieve evenhanded reporting of Georgetown issues than she was of zoning board members she viewed as the allies of the forces of evil. Yet on social occasions she was totally charming.
Eva Hinton deserves credit for pushing the zoning rules that have preserved Georgetown above M Street, except for the traditionally commercial Wisconsin Avenue strip, as a chiefly single-family preserve. She deserves credit for saving and enhancing the Old Stone House, Georgetown's premier landmark.
Hinton's brand of activism did create backlash in other parts of town, feeding a widespread view of Georgetown considering itself overly special. And too many people remember her chiefly for what has been called Eva's Last Hurrah, what Metro Scene considers her wrongheaded fight against having a subway station in Georgetown because it would crowd unwanted people into the area. Now there are unwanted cars as well.