319 R St NW- The Turret is Plan B

There will be a BACA meeting Monday July 10th to discuss 319 R Street among other things. There was no meeting July 3rd because of the 4th.

So the ANC sent the developers (Fred Schnider Investment Group) proposal to her residents and looking at the plans, Plan A has a 3rd story, no turret. Plan B has the turret.

Developers Plan B

But it looks in Plan B like the turretted style is a tad ugly. There is some vacant space between the turret and the top floor windows. In Plan A (not shown here) there is a small row of windows, that fills the space between the turret and the larger 3rd floor windows. I wanted to like it but, it could look better. I’d approve of this less than flattering Plan B.

I was hoping for something like 1721 4th Street where the turret was incorporated into the 3rd floor. Popup on 4th   Also Plan B would have them destroying the old turret and us hoping that they bother to rebuild the odd little hat of a turret to go back on.

The other problem, I’m just now noticing is how it looks against the adjoining buildings. Currently three of the other houses along R Street NW are vacant investments gone bad. So there isn’t anyone in those buildings to cry foul. The transition from 319 to 317 is abrupt.

I might suggest a bit of a mansard like roof, with an opening for a deck, and the rooftop space on top. It would mean fewer windows on the top corner. But it could also make the transition from 319 to 317 less obvious and make the 3rd floor with the roof top entrance look less like a pop up.

Around abouts the edge of Shaw- 1942

Panhandler on 7th -1942
Panhandler on 7th Street NW

So I was bopping around the Library of Congress site, looking to tell one story. Well, because I’m too lazy to figure out how to search properly (I’m very disappointed in myself as a librarian) I came across a few photos of life in 1942 around the area of 7th and Florida Avenue NW. As you know Florida Avenue tends to make up the northern border of Shaw, or what was to become Shaw.  This prior to the urban renews plans and prior to Shaw being named Shaw as a neighborhood.

Anyway….

These photos were taken by the noted African American photographer Gordon Parks. He like other notable photographers like Dorothea Lange, worked for the Farm Security Administration. As you can see and as you know, this area is not a farm, little matter…. old timey pictures, yay!

Display window at 7th Street and Florida Avenue, N.W.

If you look in the reflection of the window with the hats, I believe you can see the building that houses Halfsmoke, maybe. I know there was a football stadium over there where Howard University Hospital sits, and those are the stadium lights you can see in the reflection as well. However the turret is not exactly the same so, I’m not sure.

From these photographs I can see hanging out on the 1900 block of 7th Street is a historic activity. However the panhandlers of the 1940s were a heck of a lot better dressed than the hangers out and the odd panhandler found between Florida Avenue and S Street these days. They wore hats in the 40s. And they sold hats on 7th Street. At this moment I don’t think you can get a decent  hat on 7th, unless you have one delivered to the Amazon pickup locker at the 7-11 on 7th and Rhode Island.

Saturday afternoon, 7th Street and Florida Avenue, N.W.

At some point I’ll actually get around to posting the things I meant to post. Until then, enjoy.

Holy Moly My House is Older Than I Thought

Snip from HistoryQuest DC
A view from HistoryQuest DC

Due to my research on my house I was under the impression that it, and all the other ones in the row, was built around 1874-75 ish.

Wrong.

The Historical Society sent out an announcement about their facilities on Mt. Vernon Square and getting ready for the Apple store (yay, I need a new mini). The library is closing up Friday, June 7th, but there are the online resources. So I went to the Ready Reference PDF. And that took me to DC.gov’s HistoryQuest DC. So I looked at the map, tapped on my block and discovered the houses on my row were built in 1872, not 1874/1875 as I thought. I’m in the right decade at least.

So why did I think what I thought? Well I was going by tax records.  Prior to the 1874/1875 tax year there was nothing there, according to the tax assessor. Unfortunately, the oh so helpful Sanborn and other fire maps don’t even bother with the Truxton Circle area until the 1880s at the earliest. HistoryQuest DC used the Washington Evening Star newspaper report on building permits as its source. That source said the owner, Jacob Been had permits dated July 5, 1872.

Well, I guess Mr. Been could have waited 2 years to build.

Random History- Accident at New Jersey and R St NW 1980

So this is random.

First page of Lawsuit
Civil Action No80-2789

So I was going through some court cases, don’t ask why and happened to have noticed this thing. It is a lawsuit for a traffic accident that occurred at New Jersey Ave and R St NW on the border of Truxton Circle.

According to the first page at around noon on October 14, 1980 A Ms. Hodges was trying to turn onto R Street from New Jersey Avenue NW when she claims that a van for Budget Lock and Key hit her and sent her into the northbound lane of traffic.

This is not news, and it is questionable if it is history. But if there is a friggin plaque on the 1500 block of 4th Street documenting a one time rec center, heck I can write about a traffic accident.

The notable thing about this case is that there are depositions, oral histories of sorts,  and one is from someone from the mosque on 4th Street. I glanced over that deposition and I’m not sure what he had to add to the case. The problem with some voices from the past is that they don’t always have anything all that interesting to say.

319 R St NW- There can be a way forward with a turret

So last week I saw the good news from Scott Roberts that the ANC 5E voted to oppose the raze permit application for 319 R St NW.

319 R St NWSince I’m not a house historian I’ll quickly mention 319 R and most of the houses on that block are Wardmans built around 1902-1903, by developer Harry Wardman and his architect Nicholas R. Grimm. My interest is that it at one point housed members the Glorius family, who had owned the whole block and lived there in the late 19th Century. So the house is special in that way. It is also special because it is a corner house.

From what I can remember from the October 2016 BACA meeting the developers wanted to get rid of the turret on this building, among other things. The other things, like placing the entrance on the 4th St side, thus changing windows and doors, and putting on an extra floor, I actually have no problem with that. It’s getting rid of the turret that I have a problem with. Development has been done before, on this very block, a floor added and a turret kept.

Back in 2009, I and resident of the 1700 blk of 4th St, John, fought to preserve a look for that block as the owner wanted to add a 3rd floor and obliterate the roof (with the turret) and replace it with something pitched and very suburban looking. I’ll admit the turret wasn’t the focus, preventing an ugly az popup was, as this was the time of horrible pop ups, popping up in the neighborhood.

100_0768.JPGThis is what 1721 4th Street NW (the blue/gray building) looked like in 2009.

The shorter building to the left is the dry cleaners, and to the right that gap between the buildings is now gone and something plain and brick resides there now.

I never had images of what the owner had suggested to the BZA. But imagine an extra floor and a “decorative” upside down ‘V’ of a roof, like you’d see in suburban Maryland on top. It was ugly.

The owner had to go to BZA because this property was well over 62% of its lot occupancy. Unfortunately Jim Berry was no longer our ANC because he had moved/retired, and our ANC at the time (now city councilperson) was too trusting of the system so this fight was hard. Berry was there with neighbors at BZA hearing with the development on Richardson Place NW.  The ANC then, not so much, and there were fewer neighbors up in arms to fight the owner’s ugly proposal.

Popup on 4thLong story short, we prevailed and it was win-win.  The owner got more square footage and an extra floor. We got something that looked good and was not an ugly as F* popup. Yes, the turret is absorbed into the house, but it isn’t too out of place.

I believe that there can be a win-win with this developer. They can get an extra floor and new entrances (I dunno about parking, that’s another ball of wax) without destroying the turret.  That block will probably see more development in the future and we’ve set a path for how that can look, I just hope the new people follow.

 

Postscript- Yes, I know of this thing called historic districts. I oppose that for my own neighborhood. With historic districts we wouldn’t get such interesting houses like the Darth Vader house that just sold for a million dollars, or the interesting Ditto condos. Yes, we wouldn’t get the monstrosities on P Street, but there is enough good to outweigh the bad, you just have to be vigilant.

 

So Truxton? Shaw? Bloomingdale? Where the hell am I?

Commercial Building Map
Map of Shaw for 1970 Commercial Buildings

So this comes up way too often. So that’s why I decided with this re-boot (messy as it is) that I would call the In Shaw blog Truxton is in Shaw, because it is.

Here is the quick and dirty and maybe in later posts I’ll go deeper.

Bloomingdale is on the other side of Florida Ave, which used to be Boundary Street in the 18th century. Why Boundary Street? Because it was the boundary between the city of Washington and the county of Washington, in the District of Columbia. Bloomingdale, lovely as it is, was/is a suburban neighborhood, in the then county.

Shaw. I have yet, to find ANYTHING, anything calling the area we know as Shaw as “Shaw” prior to the late 1950s, and even then it was called the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. See the map there? That is of the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. Everything in it, is Shaw. The area known as U Street, you will see it, in Shaw. The portion known as Logan Circle, you can find it in the map, in Shaw.

Truxton Circle, look at the map, it is IN SHAW.

If it is in this map, it is in Shaw, which kinda stopped being a thing sometime after Home Rule and wards were a thing.

The In Shaw blog is a mess and so am I

I’m going to let this go live. And maybe next month I will try to bring back or fix the URLs for the previous 2010-2017 blog entries on the Inshaw Blog. But it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Why?

As the blog title hints there are several things going on in my off-line life. For one I have a money pit in Baltimore. Second, I have an in-law situation where we are attempting to move my mother-in-law from CA to DC. Due to a horrid mix of complications and bad lawyers it is a slow moving tragedy I have to keep my eye on. Third, our AC died and apparently needs to be replaced. This is tiny in relation to the other two things, and we went out and bought some units from Home Depot so at least part of the house can be cool.

Maybe, just maybe after I’ve fixed and undone poor workmanship, got my mother in law settled in a place where we can better care for her and the Summer heat is behind me, I can clean up all the messy files on my server.

Parents do not want to live the wire

BFM May 2017

I sent some questions to Dr. Hyra, author of Race, Class, and Politics In The Cappuccino City, a book about gentrification in Shaw, so I’m waiting to hear back. Until then I wanted to share something a friend mentioned to me.

I was talking about the book and my impression to a friend who is white and a parent and lives in another gentrifying neighborhood. Hyra has a theme in the book of “living the wire”, which refers to the HBO series The Wire, and in the context of Shaw, as I understand it means the danger, but not too dangerous environment of the neighborhood appeals to millennials. I and my friend are Gen-X, a generation that barely shows up in the book by name, and maybe we do not fit in the book since we are not millennials.

My friend stated that parents do not want to “live the wire”. My observations tell me that statement is very true. The parents who live and used to live in my end of Shaw bear that out, be they millennials or late Gen-Xers. In the early 00s, white couples who started having kids were more than likely to head for the ‘burbs or west of the park or elsewhere when those kids started hitting the age of 2. Why? Because DC schools sucked back then that’s why. Another thing is parents are protective of their kids be they well off or poor. Those who could move to a ‘better school district’ or a place where they felt their child would be safer, did. No one talks about poor people displaced by crime. Wouldn’t fear for the lives of those you love move you as much as rising rent?
BFM May 2017
People can be edgy when they are single. Maybe a little less so when they couple and the love they have for the other person makes them actually care for the safety and well being of their significant other. That care goes into overdrive when the babies show up.

Some parents moved, others dug in their heels and made it work. My friend, as well as some others who were around were pioneers when Two Rivers and Yu Ying were new and unproven. I saw that without the charter school system, these families would have left, because families did leave when their kid did not get into the charter school of their choice.

The childless versions of new comers, and I knew some who moved in when young and single (sometimes moving out as married parents), may give the impression of ‘living the wire’. But time and experience makes ‘living the wire’ less appealing, besides, there is far more attractive and wonderful things about Shaw (transit, dining, history, architecture, etc) than some misguided fantasies.

NOTE: I’m upgrading the servers this blog sits on in June. Hopefully something will be here at blog.inshaw.com .