See below for news of recent Architectural Review Committee, Historic Preservation Review Board, and Mayor’s Agent cases, and other preservation matters that have an impact on Cleveland Park.
For questions about CPHS positions on cases and issues, please email board president Dandridge Ince.
WHERE TO FIND MORE INFORMATION:
- D.C. Historic Preservation Office policies and procedures are here.
- Historic Preservation Review Board agendas, staff reports, and related materials are here.
- You can read more about the role of the Mayor’s Agent and download hearing notices and decisions here.
- The Georgetown Law Library has a page devoted to D.C. preservation law.
- For more on CPHS’s preservation policies and procedures, see our mission statement (revised 3/3/12) and the Architectural Review Committee page.
- For questions about zoning and related matters, please contact ANC3C Commissioner Nancy MacWood (see left sidebar).
September 17, 2012: ARC Statement on Proposed New Construction at Rosedale
Update, Sept. 19: The proposal for new construction on the east lot at Rosedale has been withdrawn. Thanks to the many neighbors who participated in the process. The ARC’s statement below remains available to guide appropriate development of the lot for future applicants.
Recommendation in the matter of HPA #12-566
Proposal for a new house at Rosedale (Lot behind 3434 34th Place, NW)
This submittal is a proposal for a new house to be built on an interior lot within the group of lots that were formed in 2002 at the time of the creation of the Rosedale Conservancy (HPA #02-614).
After careful review of the many submitted materials, including all of the submitted drawings and written statements, and after hearing testimony from interested parties in attendance at the ARC meeting (2012.09.10), the ARC is NOT in support and recommends that this proposal should NOT be approved to proceed further in the review process. The ARC’s primary reason for rejection is that the proposal does not follow the descriptive guidelines established by the Historic Preservation Review Board and the Mayor’s Agent when the lot was created, as described in the HPRB Staff Report and the Mayor’s Agent’s Decision and Order in case HPA #02-614.
The Staff Report language, unanimously adopted by the HPRB, is clear in establishing the primacy of the existing historic farmhouse and the importance of preserving its dominance on the entire property: “…The lots flanking the farmhouse have sufficient room to allow for any new construction to be set back from the face of the farmhouse, allowing it to remain dominant on the site.” The larger size of the flanking lots was expressly intended to facilitate this deference to the farmhouse rather than to create an opportunity to build larger or more expansive structures on any given lot.
The current proposal does not meet the spirit of the HPRB and Mayor’s Agent’s Decision and Order in several ways:
- Size: The proposed residence is, and more importantly appears to be, much larger than the farmhouse in breadth (particularly as seen from the south, the Rosedale Conservancy). The height also is arguably extreme, with its “tower” element and with the full three-story-plus presence as viewed from the southeast. The floor-to-floor heights also appear to be very high, and appear to be of a civic rather than of a residential scale.
- Placement: The proposal competes with the farmhouse by virtue of enfronting the hill/grade-drop that runs along the south side of the lot, closely aligned with the farmhouse. It comes close to the east side of the farmhouse, and ignores the opportunity provided by the sizable lot to distance itself from both the farmhouse and the south slope.
- Building type: The proposal utilizes a house type with a cruciform footprint that “sprawls” on the site, creating four distinct courtyards. It seems more appropriate to a rural setting and is not a sympathetic choice of house type to use in the Rosedale setting. With the exception of the existing farmhouse, the houses of Rosedale, and for that matter of the Cleveland Park Historic District, are simpler, 4-sided house types, which are not always small but are at least compact, efficient, and practical in their massing. In the current proposal, the use of a contiguous array of fence-walls, gatehouses, colonnades, carriage houses, and the like, that essentially cordon off the lot into a private enclave, is not seen by the ARC as being in the spirit of the stated goals of the HPRB and Mayor’s Agent’s decisions.
- Style: Generally, for the ARC, any selected style (Colonial, Italianate, Modern, etc.) is usually not of particular importance given the expansive array of styles that coexist in the neighborhood. However in this circumstance, where there is a real concern about “upstaging” the farmhouse, style becomes an issue. The Italianate style chosen for the proposed residence and the way the continuous arched colonnades seem to continue along unimpeded, in combination with their generous height, all combine to suggest the presence not of a residence, but instead perhaps an important civic structure. This is decidedly antithetical to the goals of the HPRB and Mayor’s Agent’s decisions.
In short, this proposal seems not appropriate in almost all conceivable respects. By way of guidance, the ARC would suggest an alternative point of departure for a new house on this lot, to take a cue from the house at 3503 Newark Street, NW (Marcou Residence), which is the lot that is to the left of the farmhouse as seen from the south lawn, the Rosedale Conservancy. This house is not small, but it is compact and efficient. It sits well back from the formal front of the farmhouse and also sits at a comfortable distance from the farmhouse. A mirror image of the massing of this house, about the north/south axis running through the farmhouse, would result in a house situated roughly in the northeast corner of the lot under consideration. There would be room to spare for outbuildings to the west and a gracious front yard facing south. This approach would go a long way to addressing many of our concerns with the current proposal.
Regarding the drawings and presentation, the ARC very much appreciates the efforts of the architect in this regard, particularly for such a significant site. However, the ARC notes that the site plan figure-ground drawing as presented was incorrect and left the impression that there was a deliberate attempt to obscure the impact of the massing of this proposal. A fair rendering of this information should show all buildings consistently treated, preferably with all roofed areas, either enclosed or not, as solid “hatched” figures on the site plan.
Vote: 7 in favor; one abstention.
Images of the proposed new residence at Rosedale:
Recommendation in the matter of HPA #12-567
Proposal for exterior alterations and a small rear addition to the house at 3530 Ordway St., NW
The ARC has no objection to the proposed alterations and addition.
Recommendation in the matter of HPA #12-565
Proposal for a new house at 3528 Ordway Street, NW
The proposal is for a new house to be constructed on the eastern half of the lot currently occupied by 3530 Ordway Street. The proposed new construction is a foursquare-style house with a wrap-around porch and Mediterranean-style finishes (stucco and a tile roof).
While the ARC does not take issue with the style of the proposed new construction, it regards the proposed house as too large for its subdivided lot and for its context on this block of Ordway Street. The ARC recommends that the applicants revise the proposal to scale down the house in height, footprint, and street frontage.
With respect to the scale of the proposed residence, the ARC notes the following considerations:
The ARC appreciates the architect’s effort in the proposal to mediate between the scale of the house immediately to the east (the large shingled house constructed as part of the subdivision of Rosedale), and the Faulkner house at 3530 Ordway. However, the ARC believes the largest of the new Rosedale houses should not be taken as precedent for the scale of further new construction on the block. The ARC recommends that the new house at 3528 take its cue from 3500 Ordway (the easternmost of the new Rosedale houses) and the Rosedale Cottage at the other end of the same block, and that it respect the scale of the contributing resources on the north side of the block.
The ARC welcomes a house with a porch and an open relation to the street. However, the ARC notes that the proposed width of the porch, 50 feet, is otherwise found only on the largest and grandest of Cleveland Park’s Victorians, and recommends a more moderate scale for this setting. The ARC notes that the majority of nearby lots are 50 feet wide.
On a related point, the ARC is concerned that the unusually large street frontage of the irregularly-shaped subdivided lot is being used to justify a house that is larger overall than is warranted by the actual size of the lot.
Images of the proposed house:
Recommendation in the matter of HPA #12-559
Proposal for a one-story addition on non-contributing house
The ARC has no objection to the proposed addition.
Recommendation in the matter of HPA #12-568
Proposal for a rear addition and deck
This case has been withdrawn for September and will be heard again at the October 8th ARC meeting. In response to comments from neighbors, the architect agreed to develop a smaller proposal for the rear addition and examine the possibility of keeping the large tree at the rear of the existing house. The architect will hold a meeting with neighbors before bringing the revised plans to the ARC in October.
June 22, 2012: CPHS Board forms Task Force on Preservation and Energy Conservation
The Cleveland Park Historical Society has formed a task force to study the issues around historic preservation and energy conservation, including solar technology. We are looking at guidelines from other historic districts and hope to develop updated guidelines specific to Cleveland Park. With some creativity and flexibility on all sides, we think this can become a win-win situation for our neighborhood, reducing our carbon footprint while preserving our historic character.
(The DC Historic Preservation Office has gathered lots of resources on preservation and sustainability on this page.)
May 30, 2012:
Today’s Northwest Current notes that HPO staff recommended against allowing visible solar panels on the roof of 3215 Newark Street, a case that will be heard at tomorrow’s HPRB meeting. (You can watch Thursday’s meeting and access staff reports via this link.)
CPHS’s Architectural Review Committee supports the installation of solar panels on this property, not on the street-facing slope of the roof (which the applicants do not propose), but on more of the west face of the roof than was originally proposed, in order to regularize the array of panels. The ARC is interested in encouraging the use of alternative energy sources in the historic district. It received very strong statements of support from neighbors adjoining the property.
The text of the ARC’s report on 3215 Newark from its May 14th meeting is as follows:
This proposal is for the installation of solar energy panels on a Four Square house on Newark Street. The panels would be installed on the west roof slopes only, with the majority of them placed on a new rear wing. Approximately 8 panels would be placed on the west slope of the hipped roof that is part of the original mass of the house. They would be slightly visible from Newark Street, although partially obscured by trees and the house next door. No trees will be removed. The panels will not damage the roof or the roof form and can be removed in the future. The applicant is applying new, darker roof shingles that will be similar in color to the panels. Based upon suggestions from HPO staff, the applicant is proposing to shift as many panels as possible to the north – away from the front of the house. This results in the panels having an irregular and uneven pattern on the hipped roof.
The neighbors have been contacted and are in support of the project.
Installation of solar panels in a historic district is a difficult issue. Alternative energy for historic houses is important, but must be done in a way that does not diminish the historicity or architectural integrity of the building. Keeping the panels off of the front façade – which this project does – is very important. It is also important for the panels that are installed to be as unobtrusive as possible.
Gwen Wright made a motion to forward comments to the HPRB that the ARC supports alternative energy elements for historic houses in the district and generally has no objection to this proposal. However, the ARC strongly recommends that the applicant explore regularizing the pattern of panels on the hipped roof that is a part of the original mass of the house. A simple rectangle of panels will be less noticeable than the current pattern, even if the panels are slightly farther forward on the roof slope. The ARC also notes that their support for this proposal is partially based on the fact that it is a completely reversible change. Chris Hobbs seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
May 18, 2012:
UPDATE 6/29/12: Plans for this property are back at square one and consideration has been postponed till fall. We will update you when we have more information.
A raze permit application has been received for 3211 Wisconsin Avenue, the green house opposite Café Deluxe. The developers propose to build a six-storey apartment building on the site, which would include approximately 1/3 affordable units. An article in the most recent Northwest Current (link downloads PDF) does a good job of summarizing the proposal and the issues involved. Disposition of the property was considered before in 2006 and 2009. We have posted the HPO Staff Report from 2009, which provides some historical background and context for the current proposal.
The Architectural Review Committee had a preliminary conversation with the developer and project architect at its May 14th meeting and will have further discussions at its June meeting, before the case goes to the Historic Preservation Review Board in late June. In its preliminary consideration of the case, the ARC weighed its mandate to defend Cleveland Park’s historic structures and other community interests that might be served by a different use of the site. The ARC will wait to issue a formal recommendation to HPRB until it has consulted with the ANC and CPCA about land use and other community issues and until details of the proposal have been clarified.
Much about the project is subject to further refinement and negotiation, so the plans as submitted should be understood to be tentative, but the rendering below gives a sense of what kind of building is proposed.
We will update this page with news of the case as it progresses. If you have comments on the case, please feel free to use our Facebook page for discussion, and see the contact information at the top of this page for CPHS and ANC contacts.
April 6, 2012:
The Mayor’s Agent has approved the widening of the Cleveland Park firehouse doors. Below is an image of the current and future front elevation of the building. The text of the Mayor’s Agent’s decision (PDF) gives a detailed history and analysis of the case.