A plan by the Third Street Church of God to raze three historic rowhouses at 1232-1236 New Jersey Avenue NW in the Mount Vernon Square Historic District (MVSHD) has been changed. The new plan, after recent consultation with the Historic Preservation Office (HPO), is for the church to retain the sound façades and demolish the decrepit rear, and is detailed in the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB)'s staff report, published Friday, in advance of the upcoming Board meeting this Thursday, June 30th. If the Board grants approval, the HPO will then wave forward the Third Street Church of God's new plan for partial demolition.
The three rowhouses were originally four, however the southernmost one was demolished before the designation of the MVSHD in 1999. All three are flat-front, brick rowhouses built in 1866-1867, and according to the HPRB staff report, are "representative of the speculative housing built on the outskirts of the city in the boom years immediately following the Civil War."
The HPRB staff report, prepared by staff reviewer Brendan Meyer, outlines that "large portions of the three rowhouses are in extremely dilapidated condition... specifically the rear masonry walls and one-story ells are compromised structurally by numerous trees that have taken root in the walls." The staff report, released Friday, states that "[a]fter recent consultation with the HPO, the church has agreed to revise the raze application and now wish [sic] to pursuse a concept approval that would allow them to demolish only portions of the buildings not visible from New Jersey Avenue."
Although the rowhouses have suffered from longstanding exposure to the elements at the rear, resulting in extensive mold, a flourishing termite colony, and "nearly total loss of interior finishes... [and] structural integrity [of the back portions]." The front of the buildings are in "relatively good condition" and show "only typical wear for 150-year-old masonry," explains the staff report.
Because the façades of the rowhouses are salvageable, while the rear is impassable, the HPO is recommending that the Board approves this new, compromised solution to save some of all three historic structures - which front New Jersey Avenue. This new plan would restore the historic face of the property, and retain the "possibility that the current or a future owner may be able to incorporate the historic structures into a future development," as is stated in the staff report.
In the meantime, if the plan is approved and the church follows through with demolition of the back portion of all three rowhouses, the newly created space will be used for 3 to 5 churchgoers to park.
Washington D.C. real estate development news