For some residents of Hill "proper," Hill East is the ugly duckling of Capitol Hill. Its numbered streets have double-digits, its architecture is eclectic. And isn't it near...the river? While many Hill East residents are eager to prove the neighborhood has charm and historic character, others, including long-time residents, are happy to keep the long arm of the preservationists away. Last week, the Historic Preservation Review Board decided to wait a little longer before officially creating the Barney Circle Historic District that would bring the same level of historic protection that Capitol Hill now enjoys.
The Capitol Hill Historic District's eastern boundary is 13th Street SE, with parts of 14th Street included. As you venture beyond the confines of the historic area, the boundaries do much to explain the odd mix of new 4-story condos next to the townhouses. The Barney Circle area is bounded by "the houses fronting on Barney Circle on the south, by those on the north side of Potomac Avenue on the north, by those on the west side of Kentucky Avenue on the west and by the Congressional cemetery on the east," according to the HPRB.
Once the terminus of the Pennsylvania Avenue Streetcar, the neighborhood was built largely between 1905 and 1929, inhabited mostly by employees at the nearby Navy Yard. The homes were contrived from Henry Wardman's "daylighter" model, which offered a suburban feel with a front yard, front porch and copious daylight inside. The HPRB staff report recommended an approval, noting the neighborhood as a "prime example of an extremely cohesive and intact early twentieth century, working-class, rowhouse neighborhood." The "period of significance" for the ares was determined to be between 1905 and 1941; of the 192 homes in the new district, all but 3 will come under the auspices of the HPRB.
The Historic recognition would mean more headaches for the owners of the 189 homes. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS) quickly points out on its website that being in an historic district means that "if you want to install a fence, make any changes to the porch, garage, or exterior of your building, or even install sculpture in your front yard, you must get a building permit." Though the ANC voted unanimously to approve the nomination, neighbors will take their time to debate the merits of the recognition; HPRB was prepared to approve it last week but has left the door open for a larger area to be included, should the community request it.
Washington, DC real estate development news