Design Guidelines Project

By: Ana Evans, CPHS Board Member

The Cleveland Park Historical Society (CPHS) has launched an important initiative: the drafting of Preservation Guidelines for the Cleveland Park Historic District. The
CPHS has contracted with the nationally known firm of Nore Winter and Co, and will undertake this project in close association with the District’s Historic Preservation Office (HPO).

One of the most difficult challenges for homeowners in an historic district is to determine how changes will affect historic resources. Over time, each of the entities that participate in the permitting process (including the CPHS’s Architectural Review Committee, the Historic Preservation Office and Historic Preservation Review Board, and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission) has evolved a different approach, and sometimes their conclusions are odds with each other. This divergence of opinion and practice frustrates residents and weakens our efforts.

The Guidelines will set out in a clear format the architecture, open spaces, and streetscapes, that are distinctive and significant. We seek input from the community and design professionals to refine the aims of our preservation efforts and to seek consensus about preservation priorities.

Our goal is to improve transparency and predictability to a process that will always have an element of subjective judgment. We hope that any resident contemplating a change will be able to use the Guidelines to determine how his or her house contributes to the district and how an alteration will affect the original design and its immediate surroundings.

Work on the Guidelines project commenced in March. At the CPHS’s annual meeting we will give all our members the opportunity to contribute to this effort. Nore Winter and Co. will explain the process and conduct focus groups to obtain our residents’ opinions. The meeting will be held on May 20th at The Broadmoor, 3601 Connecticut Avenue, in The Commons.