HPA No. 1979-019 (In re. Admiral Benbow)
- Application Number: 1979-019
- Case Name: Application L.M. No. 79-019 of the American Psychiatric Association for a permit to raze a building located at 1636 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., lot 69, Square 93
- Location of Property: 1636 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., lot 69, Square 93
- Date of Order: December 12, 1978
- Type of Permit Sought: Demolition
- Disposition: Demolition delayed for 125 days from the date of the Order
Decided Pre-1978 Act:
This case was decided based upon D.C. Regulation 73-25, which preceded D.C. Law 2-144, the Historic Landmark and Historic District Protection Act (the "Act", which was passed on Nov. 28, 1978; D.C. Regulation 73-25 was passed in 1973). The D.C. Regulation provided that, prior to issuance of a permit to demolish or alter the exterior of a building listed on the District's inventory of historic sites, a determination must be made as to whether the proposed alteration/demolition was "contrary to the public interest." If a "contrary to the public interest" finding was made, the demolition/alteration would be delayed for 180 days to allow for negotiation between the applicant, community groups and the D.C. Historic Preservation Officer (among others) to find a means of preserving the structure. For further information, see Jeremy W. Dutra, "You Can't Tear it Down: the Origins of the D.C. Historic Preservation Act," (Spring 2002), available at: http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/hpps_papers/1/.
Summary of Decision:
The American Psychiatric Association (the "Applicant") sought a permit to demolish a building at 1636 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. located in the Dupont Circle Historic District. The Mayor's Agent concluded that the demolition of the building was contrary to the public interest, and should be delayed by 125 days to permit negotiation with the owners of the building and civic groups, public agencies, and interested citizens to find a means of preserving the building.
Necessary in the Public Interest:
The Mayor's Agent found that the demolition was contrary to the public interest, citing the following:
(1) the Neo-Classical building was harmonious with the surrounding three and four story commercial/residential structures representing a variety of architectural styles, details and textures. Such variety embodied the "visual richness" that characterized the historic district and the building's Neo-Classical revival façade contributed to the architectural variety and visual richness that characterized the Dupont Circle Historic District.
(2) the building maintained its relationship to the predominant architectural character of the area by "echoing the height, scale and massing" of the three and four story buildings that defined Connecticut Avenue.
(3) the affected Advisory Neighborhood Commission had voted unanimously to oppose the demolition of the building.
(4) the Mayor's Agent concluded that the building's demolition would be detrimental to the quality, character and continuity of the Connecticut Avenue streetscape north of Dupont Circle and to the Dupont Circle historic district as a whole.
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