Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Blagden Alley and Naylor Court Nominated for DCPL Most Endangerd Site List

Dear Ms. McDonald,

I am nominating Naylor Court NW and Blagden Alley NW as an historic site that has become endangered because of demolition by neglect, threats of ill-advised alteration and demolition by intent. Despite being listed on the National Register of Landmark Historic Places – which confers protection status to every address in these two alleys – historic buildings continue to be destroyed. They are being replaced by modern structures, many of which appear to be far outside of the boundaries of reasonable architectural context.

These two alleys have a rich history that reflects the development of the inner core of the city of Washington D.C. as it grew. The earliest platt of the alley dates from the late 1700’s.

I have enclosed a letter of support from the President of the Blagden Alley/Naylor Court Association – Richard Neidich - which followed a unanimous vote of support at the most recent meeting. There is widespread support within the neighborhood to preserve, protect and restore the buildings within these two alleys. The Historic Preservation Office has been working with me to raise the level of awareness of the historic value of these buildings. Naylor Court has the largest intact collection of stables in the city (15) and is an unpolished gem in the architectural history of the city.

In the mid 1950’s a group of residents in Foggy Bottom and Georgetown organized an effort to thwart the threatened destruction of the stables and other historic buildings along the C & O canal. This area has become a thriving and emotionally exciting commercial environment and a destination site. Blues Alley is one example of the many success stories in this collection of buildings. Naylor Court and to a lesser degree, Bladgen Alley, have as great a potential for similar future enhancement if protected now.

Nomination by the DC Preservation League on the list of Most Endangered Places will heighten the profile of this historic site and help to increase the awareness of those empowered within the government so that wise decisions in the future can be made to protect this enclave.

There is interest by a local film producer (Todd Clark of Onandon Productions) to develop a film documenting these two alleys.

At the last meeting of the Blagden Alley and Naylor Court Association a motion was entertained to review a collection of 30 years of archived material about the alley.

There are opportunities to apply for grants to survey and inventory the building within these two alleys as well as to create a history document of their past.

The community has spoken with Councilman Jack Evans about the destruction in Naylor Court and he has voiced strong support to protect the alley structures. He also said that this would never have been tolerated in Georgetown. In fact, one small stable in Georgetown was partially torn down and the neighborhood clamor resulted in the building being rebuilt restored completely. The ANC Commissioner (Mike Bernardo) has been very supportive of preserving the historic nature of the alleys as have representatives of the Mayor’s office (Mark Bjorge and Joe Martin).

In July I created a blogspot to document the history of these alleys and their current plight. It can be visited at http://preservingdcstables.blogspot.com .

The original documentation in support of the nomination for recognition as a Historic Landmark property was written in 1990 and has been included with other material of relevance.

Finally, I have included a CD with written material as well as many photographs showing the changes that have been occurring in these two alleys. There is also a video from Channel 7 News that covered the issue of the destruction of one of the stables in Naylor Court last summer.

I hope that you will rule in favor of including Blagden Alley and Naylor Court on the list of the DC Preservation League’s Most Endangered Places 2009. It would be incredibly sad to lose the opportunity to protect these two alleys from further destruction. Historic replication is no match for historic preservation.

No comments: