Wednesday, December 9, 2009
The property bought by Darryl Carter is actually a collection of four individual buildings (including the yellow stable in the alley) reflecting progressive expansion since the original building was constructed. Section #2 was built in the mid 1800’s as was the stable. The dormers (shown at the arrow) define one original face of the building. The front section on 9th Street appears to have been built in the mid 20’s like its neighbor the EFN Lounge. Fortunately the property is protected from demolition under law by virtue of its status on the National Register of Landmark Historic Properties. It is also protected by HPO and HPRB. The neighborhood anticipates great new developments here!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
In his review Morgan writes … “Despite the fact that alleys are often seen merely as traffic shortcuts, places in which to dump trash, or as places where you wouldn’t want to meet people in the dark.” Clay points out that the alley is “an institution as American as apple pie.”
Morgan expressed the hope that Clay’s monograph “will not be forgotten or placed on a shelf as is so often the fate of such studies.” He then quotes Lewis Mumford whom he considered to be the dean of American planning historians – “I would prefer to walk in the rear alley … precisely for all those little hints of life, activity, transition which the placid visual arts of suburbia did their best to suppress or politely disguise.”
This book has indeed found new life in this author’s library shelf and on the shelf of this blog for many to appreciate - something that was unimaginable in 1978. In fact the book came into the author’s hands through the internet and the graces of William Morgan himself! It will be a valuable tool in the quest to nurture and protect the more picturesque and historic stable alleys in the city.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
Community anger is rising about how badly these alleys are being treated. Don't you think that it is beyond time to leave the past of horse manure and corruption and move into a more civilized era of people and places? Let's stop trashing this place.
Monday, October 5, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
* Data retrieved from the Kraft database of buildings in
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
Although horses have long left the city of
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The Claremont Riding Academy on
The building that houses the
Last year we wrote about how luxury condo developers got the jump on the Landmarks Preservation Commission by removing the facade of the Dakota Stable on 77th st. and
The familiar sight of horse and rider cruising through Manhattan’s Upper West Side in New York is only a memory now. The Claremont Riding Academy officially closed its doors Sunday after more than 100 years of service to equestrians throughout the city. The four-story stone stable located between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues originally opened as a livery stable in 1892 but became a riding school in the 1920s, offering lessons and hiring out horses for use on bridle paths within Central Park.
Owner Paul Novograd says dwindling business contributed to closure of Claremont, which was one of the oldest continuously operating stables in the United States. The building was declared a city landmark in 1990, so its exterior can't be changed without approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. However the building’s interior, which looks like it hasn’t been changed in decades, does not hold the same protection.
New homes are being sought for the 45 horses from the stable.
Few assigned protective agents could keep up with Jackie when she was riding so a good looking 27-year-old US Parks Department Private by the name of Denis Ayres was assigned to cover her. Ayres eventually became a Sergeant Major of the US Park Police with over 90 horses under his control – most likely housed in the building that is now the DC Archives at
Nobody who has ever seen footage of JFK’s funeral could ever forget the pathos evoked by the riderless horse with reversed boots. The horse – Black Jack - was a sixteen year old hybrid between a quarter horse and a Morgan. He served at the funerals of Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and General Douglas MacArthur. “Several years after the funeral, Jackie received a letter from the secretary of the Army, asking her if she might want to include him in her stable. She wrote back and politely declined saying it would be better to have him continue in military service.”(ref) After 24 years of distinguished service he was euthanized at the age of 29 on
Jackie moved to
Friday, July 24, 2009
This is the most difficult element of the process and generally needs to be under a single “umbrella organization.”
The streetscape project needs to promote itself by providing reasons for people to visit an exciting and revitalized area.
This is a highly visible element of the process, signaling to the community that something very different is happening.
Local banks, particularly when working collectively can provide financial support for it is now well recognized that revitalized properties are good for business.
In addition to the “four-point approach” for preservation of streetscapes through Main Street programs, the NTHP outlined a further eight principles that it felt were also important for successful implementation.
1. Comprehensiveness: - the project needs to involve more than isolated buildings that do not have any connection with each other. It needs to be an ongoing process.
2. Incrementation: - small early projects are important to encourage others and also to increase the ability of the organizations involved to tackle larger projects
3. Self-help: - local leadership is important to sustain the initiatives, even though much help can be obtained through the National Main Street Center in Washington D.C.
4. Public-private partnership: - this is pivotal
5. Identification and capitalization on existing assets: -clarification of the uniqueness of the locale to help guide revitalization
6. Quality: - high quality must be a major focus in design, promotion and execution.
7. Change: - influencing the prevailing community attitudes is important, as the Main Street program shifts public preconceptions
8. Action orientation: - recognition of the value of visible change to remind the community of the vitality of the program
Tyler  in Historic Preservation importantly identified several reasons why Main Street programs sometimes fail in communities.
· “The project manager was not working full time and could not follow through on initiatives.”
· “Some downtown groups were unhappy with the new show in town and sabotaged efforts of the Main Street project office.”
· “The Board of Directors tried to accommodate too many groups and became too large and unwieldy.”
Historic preservation is “good for business” and good for the vigor of communities. Awareness of the steps in the process, principles and reasons for failure as outlined above is valuable and vital for the success of initiatives. The work that is happening today along 9th Street NW and 7thStreet NW in Washington D.C.is destined to succeed, given adherence to the advice offered by the NTHP National Main Street Center - an organization that since its inception has garnered over $11 billion in private and public investment, rehabilitated over60,000 buildings and created over 174,000 new jobs.
 National Main Street Center of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1785 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20036 (http://www.mainst.org)
 In Historic Preservation - an introduction to its history principles and practice by Norman Tyler, W.W. Norton & Company, 2000
 Historic Preservation pages 174 - 176
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
A light blue Victorian home lives at 403 P Street NW with a small stable-like building behind it. There is currently a dumpster in front of the building on P Street and there are neighborhood rumors that the rear building is going to be torn down to make space for parking or expansion of the primary building. The home (built in 1890) was designed by George S. Cooper, an architect who designed about 850 buildings in Washington. The building in the rear was built in 1891, measures 15 feet by 27 feet and has many of the typical features of a stable or a small warehouse. The original permit describes it as being a “fuel house and storeroom.” No architect is listed for this building but the builder was Galloway and son.
Unlike Naylor Court NW, with a unique collection of small buildings that has been protected by law (every address) through the National Register of Landmark Historic Properties since 1990, this alley building has much less (if any) protection. The author is unaware of a unifying HPO policy that governs their decision making process about stables and other small alley buildings in the city. This little building (403 rear
In the author’s opinion, at the very least, the building should be documented architecturally, (dimensions, inner structure etc), bricks salvaged where possible for use in historic preservation projects in the city (these bricks are in high demand), the original “hayloft doors” salvaged and eye kept out for archeological artifacts that might be uncovered during the process of its destruction, should that eventually happen.
Stables and other small rear alley buildings are prime targets for destruction, because their disappearance makes it so much easier for developers to gain access to work on the rear of the primary building. These are charming little properties that can almost always be restored, rehabilitated and adaptively reused given the expertise and the will to do so. Stables and utilitarian alley buildings are very simple structures. These buildings are a unique and characteristic historic architectural feature of
Thursday, April 2, 2009
In many ways the lives of buildings, companies and communities function as ecology. One use gives way to another, as times and needs change. Everything is interconnected –so clearly witnessed today as we watch the downfall of practically everything. Vacant land in the late 1700’s gave way to stables and alleys which gave way to auto repair shops which gave way to either abandonment or adaptive reuse. Blagden Alley and Naylor Court like most alleys in Washington, housed people, horses and small community-based businesses. Needs were met, even if they were humble. For example, there was a bicycle repair shop in Blagden Alley in 1900 and artisan shops. Of course there were also illegal gin joints, and brothels filling somewhat less wholesome demands. It was a thriving macroeconomic culture that was easily understood and made sense. As alleys were destroyed by government intervention, focus turned to the street side of life allowing the inner core of blocks to quietly rot.
Little corner street side gas stations - once community fuel lines – eventually gave way to big oil corporations and were also gradually abandoned or destroyed. Yet all is not yet lost, for today Frank Asher has created a corner garden shop at the South West corner of 9th and N northwest called “Old City Green” on the site of a former gas station that had crumbled beyond recognition.
OLD CITY GREEN Mission:
To invite nature back into the city by supporting local landscapers with market value product and by providing the Shaw community and D.C. at large with plants, garden supplies, training and opportunities to increase awareness of and appreciation for “our urban garden”.
This “new green growth” is helping to draw together a community in a loving and healing way, much like the early small tendrils of growth in nature after a forest fire. This is a welcome and healthy metaphor of new hope in a community that struggles daily to look for signs of anything positive. Maybe it’s time for all of us to take our eyes off the “big picture” of world economic crisis, “talking heads”, blogs and “politicomedia” and focus once again on helping each other in ways that are close to home and understandable.
In Frank’s own words…
Green….Why now? Old City
“I started out as a small gardener/landscaper, picking up dog poop and pulling weeds out of the tree boxes in Dupont Circle.” frank Asher explains, “I had to buy product from local garden centers nearby and/or nurseries out in the burbs…That was time consuming and hurting my business. There were discounts up to 20% given to industry gardeners, but it wasn’t any more than discounts given to regular “membership” customers. In essence, I was unable to really make a profit in cost of goods and supplies…Any small retail business will tell you where there profit is… I have always thought: How can I help other gardeners/landscapers like myself stay afloat? Especially now when people are cutting back. We’re still working out the business and legal issues, and hope to have to co-op up and running in full swing by mid April 09. The Landscapers Co-op will not only support the professional gardeners and landscapers it will also help community gardens and garden associations. It will help create a new urban capacity to grow food, mitigate environmental threats and cultivate a unique sense of beauty and common unity.” Noted cosmologist Thomas Berry says all communities need a compelling story. Well, said Frank: Old City Green is about honoring the connections we have with each other…How the individual can be supported by his/her immediate community of friends and a the same time, give back to the local neighborhood and the community at large.
What is strange about this is that most business people have never heard of the “triple bottom line” …I am happy that
It was 9 years ago when I started cleaning out tree boxes in my neighborhood. They had been abandoned and were full of dog doodoo and weeds... A merchant in
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The Architecture of Transportation in the Capitol Region
The eighth biennial symposium on the historic development of
The Adaptive Lives of
Stables are architecturally simple yet elegant structures, melding form and function. Because of this simplicity and their “hidden” location in alleys, many DC stables have been blessed with multiple lives over the past 150 years. Originally built to house horses, carriages and hay, their classic features – bollards, square two story configuration, hayloft door and beam, horse head height windows, cupolas and massive doors and hinges – make them readily recognizable today. Some were private and small while others were commercial and large. The occasional stable was born into elegance as part of an estate (such as the Heurich mansion). With the civil war, came a massive demand for D.C. stables that continued throughout the city’s period of reconstruction. However, by 1900 few new stables were being built as the automobile eclipsed the horse and carriage, street car lines developed and demand declined.
Nonetheless, their simple architecture allowed easy conversion of many stables to alley auto repair shops. The transition from stables for horses to auto repair shops was not difficult, for the mechanics of coaches had similarities to the early automobile. The leaf springs for example on a model T Ford as well as the wooden spoke wheels were easy for a blacksmith to repair. For a while, some large stables catered to both automobiles and horses. Eventually however, people either adapted or went out of business. In the peak of the automobile era,
These were hard lived years for stables. Some were abused but most were neglected. Many were destroyed as alleys began to be abolished by government fiat through a series of alley abolition acts started in the Depression by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1934 with the creation of the Alley Dwelling Authority “to provide the discontinuance of the use as dwellings of the buildings situated in alleys in the
Unlike the labyrinths of
Today, stables have a hard earned right to be protected (two D.C. alleys and their stables were recognized as National Historic Landmarks in 1990) and nurtured so that they can continue to thrive. They uniquely remind us of their struggles and the roles that they have played in the special history of
The stables in
They are all two stories in height for the hayloft occupied the second floor. There is a second story central hayloft door with a beam and pulley. Remnants can still be seen in some stables. The lower level always had a large carriage door for the horses and vehicles with the edges protected by characteristic bollards and an adjacent smaller door for people. The huge stable doors were hinged to the wall, secured with massive plates that extended several brick spans into the wall and the row of bricks above the plate were laid “end on.” Many stables have “horse head height windows” that allowed sun and fresh air inside the stable. Older stables had been poorly ventilated and the toxicity of the ammonia levels and other equine respiratory threats resulted in a high sickness rate amongst the working horses. Occasionally one will glimpse a rein ring on the wall of the stable or the remnants of a cupola to vent the hayloft and control temperature.
It is not widely appreciated that some of the stables in Washington, especially the larger stables were built by well known architects, such as Nicholas T Haller, who also built the Warder Building and the Luzon Apartment building. The quality of his work and that of other architects is evident today, for a number of these stables are intact today.
Clearly, the lives of the stables in
The value of the contribution of the stables to the ebb and flow of city commerce and transportation is often lost in the quest to develop new businesses and residences. Even in circumstances where it is impossible to save a stable there is still the opportunity to at the very least archive its dimensions and structural features and even explore the site archeologically. This was done with the White House stables as reported in a 2004 Washington Post article “Below Ground,
There are many impediments to salvaging stables in addition to the government alley abolition acts. For example, it is still not legal to have a residence that faces a 15 foot wide alley. Stables cannot be easily separated from the rest of the property on which they reside so cannot be bought as individual entities. The wear and tear of many years of abuse and neglect have taken such a toll on many structures, that there is little incentive to properly repair and restore the building.
The art of brick and pointing repair was lost for many years and eclipsed by the ease of use of Portland cement which ultimately destroyed the very structure it was trying to save. Bricks became stress points through this rigid mortar and lost the limestone “give and take” that has allowed European buildings to stand for centuries. A welcome resurgence of interest in the value of limestone mortar is occurring today.
In one alley the Save Our Stables (S.O.S.) initiative was created this fall to spawn an awareness of the historic nature of the
- Alley Life in Washington – Family, Community, Religion and Folklife in the City, 1850 – 1970 by James Borchert, University of Illinois Press, 1980
– A History of Race Relations in the Nation’s Capital by Constance McLaughlin Green, Princeton University Press, 1967 Secret City
- The Mews of
– A guide to the hidden byways of London ’s past, by Barbara Rosen and Wolfgang Zuckerman, 1982 London
- The Timeless Way of Building, by Christopher Alexander,
Press, 1979 Oxford University
- Memories of the Buggy Days, by Henry W. Meyer, Brinker Printing Company, 1965
- American Stables – an architectural tour by Julius Trousdale Sadler Jr. and Jacquelin D.J. Sadler, New York Graphic Society Boston, 1981
- Saving America’s Treasures, National Geographic, National Trust for Historic Preservation 2001
- Preservation and Conservation – principles and practices, Proceedings of the North American International Regional Conference, Williamsburg, Virginia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Sept 10 – 16, 1972, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1976
- Neglected Neighbors by Weller, The John C Winston Company, 1909
- Coach Houses of
– by Margo Salnek, Toronto Mills Press, 2005 Boston
- Loft Living – recycling warehouse space for residential use by Kingsley C. Fairbridge and Harvey-Jane Kowal, Saturday Review Press/E.P. Dutton and Co. Inc, 1976
- Making the Case: Historic Preservation as Sustainable Development by Patrice Frey, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 2007 http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/sustainability/additional-resources/DiscussionDraft_10_15.pdf
- A Timeline of
History: http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/timeline1.html Washington DC