On Friday, November 6th, the house at 3515 Woodley Road was razed after the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) in consultation with the DC Historic Preservation Office (HPO) ordered an emergency demolition.
CPHS board, staff, and Architectural Review Committee members were aware that there had been some structural damage to the house, but did not receive prior notice that a demolition had been planned. It is our understanding that the relevant ANC Commissioner also did not receive prior notice. In spite of the short timeframe, it is our view that DCRA and HPO should have notified the relevant neighborhood groups before razing the house.
The house at 3515 Woodley was built in 1912 and was a contributing resource in the Cleveland Park Historic District. Previously owned by the Cathedral, it was sold in 2014, and then resold to a developer earlier this year. In September 2014, our ARC and the DC Historic Preservation Review Board approved plans from the first purchaser for a renovation and an addition, including a new curb cut and driveway.
The destruction of a historic property is a serious matter. This situation raises many issues, including: how the damage to the property came about; whether it was severe enough to warrant demolition; whether the property was properly documented before demolition; reasons for the apparent lack of notice to neighborhood groups; the existence of possible penalties and remedies; and the future of the now empty lot.
Update 11/23: CPHS Board and ARC members have met with Historic Preservation Office staff to discuss the situation that led to the demolition, the procedures for reviewing the plans to rebuild, and how to prevent such losses in the future. We are still gathering information, with the help of ANC3C, and will post further updates as we learn more.
The Cleveland Park Citizens Association has adopted a resolution on the case, which you can read here.