Rhodes Tavern is gone, but it's still a big part of life for Joseph N. Grano Jr. and other ardent preservationists who lost a seven-year battle last fall to save Washington's first town hall.
"September 10, 1984 -- a day that will live in infamy," said Grano, who is working on the Rhodes Tavern Record, a newspaper he hopes to publish on the first anniversary of the building's demolition.
On that day bulldozers turned the three-story, 185-year-old structure into a pile of bricks and boards, and soon a $100 million office and retail complex developed by Oliver T. Carr will take shape at the corner of 15th and F streets NW.
Grano, 39, who quit work as a government attorney to head the Citizens Committee to Save Historic Rhodes Tavern, said he is still looking for a job and will consider himself "independently poor" until he finds one.
In a recent interview, he talked of the injustice he feels was done when the building was torn down and complained that Carr has yet to start construction on Phase II of his Metropolitan Square project even though his firm maintained in court it was losing money because of continued demolition delays.
"There's still a big hole in the ground," Grano said.
Art Hanket, the project's director, said another lawsuit challenging the proposed height of the building delayed the start of construction but that he expects the 12-story complex to be completed by the fall of 1986.
Grano said he doesn't want the public to forget about the tavern or its destruction.
He would like to write a book on the subject, although he has made no proposal to a publisher.
"It's a fascinating case," said Grano. How the Carr project got approved, he said, is a story of how Washington operates.
"It's something I still think about a great deal, not that I'm obsessed with it," said Grano. " But how could this happen? I think about it all the time."