On July 19, the District Weekly section of The Post carried a small report noting that Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B "voted not to oppose the revised proposal by architect Robert Bell for refurbishing the Archbold Cabin, the oldest log cabin in the District, and develop{ing} its surrounding property."

This item only scratched the surface of a two-year drama involving a neighborhood's effort to preserve a historic treasure. Unfortunately, the elected members of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3B chose to represent a local developer rather than their constituents in Glover Park, Burleith and Foxhall Village. The issue will be considered by the District's Historic Preservation Review Board this fall.

The Archbold Cabin, which is next to Glover Archbold Park at 4437 Reservoir Road NW, was built at about the beginning of the 19th century. In May of 1988 the membership of the Foxhall Community Citizens Association voted unanimously to seek landmark status for the cabin and surrounding property.

The Historic Preservation Review Board granted that protection on March 15, 1989. The board noted that "the property contains the earliest surviving example of a vernacular log-cabin dwelling in Washington.... The well-preserved farmstead, as a building type, is extremely rare in Washington." In addition, it said, "The property setting reflects 19th century land-use patterns of rural sections of Washington. Together with Glover Archbold Park, the setting enhances the integrity of the residence and represents a valuable cultural resource."

Robert Bell, who represents a group that bought the property a year ago, has proposed a number of development plans. Each has been overwhelmingly rejected by the neighborhood. In May he asked the community association to endorse a plan to build three houses on the property. Fearing that the plan would destroy the unique attributes for which the property was landmarked, the neighbors turned down the plan by a 2-to-1 margin but invited Mr. Bell to return to discuss alternative plans in June.

Mr. Bell never showed up. Instead, he went to the ANC, which voted 4 to 1 to disregard the community's opposition to the Bell plan.

I suppose this is democracy for developers, but it undercut a neighborhood's efforts to preserve a part of the District's heritage, as well as the community's offer to work with Mr. Bell on a less intensive development proposal that could have won neighborhood support.