A year to the day after the demolition of Rhodes Tavern, preservationists who waged a battle to save Washington's first town hall returned yesterday to the site to denounce the developer and the mayor they hold responsible for the building's demise.
"Washington means business, and that's all developer Oliver Carr and Mayor Marion Barry care about," said Joseph N. Grano Jr. as he stood on the northeast corner of 15th and F streets NW tossing flowers into a construction pit where the old Rhodes Tavern once stood.
After a protracted legal struggle, the 185-year-old building was torn down to make way for Phase II of Carr's $100 million Metropolitan Square office and retail complex.
Ten demonstrators, members of the Citizens Committee to Save Historic Rhodes Tavern, marked the anniversary with a procession from the District Building to the construction site.
Grano, who quit his job as a government attorney to lead efforts to save and restore the building, blamed Barry yesterday for issuing the permits that allowed Carr to tear it down. He accused the mayor of defying a nonbinding initiative, later declared unconstitutional, in which District voters urged that Rhodes Tavern be preserved.
Grano said he is looking for work, "but I think people are afraid of me. Washington is a vast company town, and they don't like people who rock the boat.