Alexandria’s most famous monument to a deceased visionary is the Masonic memorial to George Washington. But there’s another structure that has a fond place in the hearts of those who know its story: the Hoffman Mausoleum.
Until recently, this marble temple stood incongruously at the edge of a Holiday Inn parking lot on Eisenhower Avenue near the Capital Beltway. It was the final resting place of real estate developer Hubert N. Hoffman Sr., or “Dutch,” as he was known to friends and relatives.
A couple of months ago, workmen showed up and started using a crane to take the mausoleum apart. Last time I went by, the stone walls and roof were stacked neatly on a flatbed.
I think Dutch would understand — and approve. The developer is making way for development.
The National Science Foundation will move to a new building across the street. It’s predicted the area needs 90,000 hotel rooms a year, said Dutch’s son, Hubert N. “Jay” Hoffman Jr.
“Our little 200-unit hotel could not accommodate that,” Jay said. “At the time it was built it was state of the art, but 1966 was a long time ago. We’re in the process of moving the mausoleum to Mount Comfort.” That’s a cemetery a few miles away on Kings Highway. (Dutch, his wife, Peggy, and his Aunt Mildred, are already there.)
Jay’s company is negotiating with a handful of hotel companies to replace the Holiday Inn with a 650-unit hotel that includes 50,000 square feet of meeting space. The same North Carolina outfit that erected the $500,000 mausoleum in 2002 will rebuild it at Mount Comfort. Jay said he’s just awaiting zoning approval. It should be up by March.
When Dutch Hoffman bought the land in 1958 — before the Beltway was built — there were many who said he was nuts. Things turned out pretty good. And commuters can thank Jay for the Eisenhower Avenue Metro station. He said early plans called for subway stops at King Street and at Huntington but nothing in between. Metro officials met with the Hoffman company to set a price on getting an easement through its property.
“I said, ‘If you give us the air rights and underground parking rights and a small [Metro] station, we’ll give you the right to run through the land for free,’ ” Jay said. The deal was closed with a handshake.
From a big work of art to a smaller one: A few weeks back I wrote about the mosaic of a dog that local artist Craig Nelsen installed early one morning on the steps of National City Christian Church. Church leaders were blindsided by it — Craig hadn’t asked permission — and asked him to remove it. This irritated Craig, who created it to spur interest in what he calls Buddy’s Club, an-as-yet-unrealized ambition to form a club for lonely shut-ins.
Well, a parishioner at Mount Vernon United Methodist Church showed my column to Donna Claycomb Sokol, the church’s pastor.
“What [Craig] articulates is really what a church is called to do,” Pastor Donna told me. Even though Craig is not a member of their church (“yet,” she said hopefully), “what he’s doing is what every church should be doing at its best, which is to make sure that no one is living alone or dying alone.”
Pastor Donna invited Craig to address the congregation one Sunday. The mosaic’s muse, Buddy the dog, even came, sniffing among the pews. And she asked that Craig’s mosaic be displayed temporarily on the steps of the church, at 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW. It will be up until Dec. 19.
Poor, poor Washington NFL team. Sunday’s game was painful, just another embarrassing effort best watched through laced fingers.
Count me among those who think the Redskins will keep losing as long as Dan Snyder owns them. If he really loved the team — and Washington — Snyder would sell. But there’s no way he’s going to do that. Unless . . .
Unless it was his idea to sell. But that’ll never happen, right?
Not so fast. Remember that movie “Inception”? Leonardo DiCaprio and a team of operatives have to infiltrate the dreams of a corporate titan and implant a notion.
That’s what we need to do. The thought of entering Snyder’s dreamworld is scary, but there’s no other way. I say we send in Chris Cooley. We could call it “Interception.”
Regular readers will have noticed that I’m trying something new this year. With homelessness on the rise and a severe winter on the way, I’m writing regularly about three local nonprofits that help poor families find a place to live. They are Community of Hope, Homestretch and Sasha Bruce Youthwork.
The Washington Post has partnered with these charities in Helping Hand, our new fundraising effort. Please visit www.posthelpinghand.com and read about the vital work these groups do. And please donate. Our less fortunate neighbors need our help.
For previous columns, visit washingtonpost.com/johnkelly.