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A decaying Anacostia home gleams (and sells) once more

While many residential and commercial properties in old Anacostia suffer from decades of abandonment, one historic home, at 1354 Maple View Place SE, has been transformed and rejoined the city's tax rolls. If the restoration can continue throughout the neighborhood it may forecast a new day in old Anacostia.

1354 Maple View Place SE in February 2014.

In mid-January 1907, George W. King, Jr. applied for a building permit to construct an 18x42 foot, 1-story home at a cost of $3,200 atop a hill that offers an unbroken sight line of the United States Capitol. The home was subsequently widened, and a second story was added in 1916. It was rebuilt and enclosed, partly with masonry.

By the late fall of 1918, rooms for rent were advertised in the Evening Star. One ad read, "1354 MAPLE VIEW PLACE S.E. (Anacostia)—large front room, four windows, southern and eastern exposure, hot water heat, bath and nicely furnished: rent, $30 per month."

According to a December 1944 Star profile of local "Bible Class Leaders," King had taught Sunday School since 1899 at the Anacostia Methodist Church (today St. Philip the Evangelist Episcopal Church) at the corner of 14th and U Street SE. A member of the Board of Trade and Masons, King lived with his wife and 3 daughters at 1354 Maple View Place SE. King passed away 10 years later while still living in the home.

Based on newspaper accounts, city records, and discussions with Anacostia residents, the property was last occupied in the late 1980s or early 1990s after which the home fell into a period of disrepair and neglect.

1354 Maple View Place SE in July 2010.

"The subject property has been vacant and a neighborhood eye sore for several years," wrote Tim Dennée of the Historic Preservation Office in a February 2011 staff report for proposed additions and alterations to 1354 Maple View Place SE:

Between fire damage and subsequent deterioration due to exposure, most of the house lacks a roof and most of the second-floor framing, and there are large gaps in the exterior walls, including the loss of the upper half of a two-story addition on the east side. ... This represents perhaps the final chance to save this historic house. And despite its present condition, there is a practical value to retaining the building in addition to the preservation interest.
Little work was done from the 2011 hearing until November 2012 when, according to city tax records, the property was purchased for $110,000. Last fall a fence was finally erected around the property and basic rehabilitation work began.

1354 Maple View Place SE in July 2013.

The 3-sided brick alcove has been removed. The house now has a flat front. In the process of removing the siding, the original gingerbread shingles were revealed on the attic level and have been incorporated into the finished rehabilitation. A room in the rear of the home that had collapsed has been repaired. A front porch has been added. A pile of mud in the front yard has been replaced by a green lawn.

According to city records the property's assessed value for 2015 is $160,840. That is less than half of what the home sold for in late April. Its sale point of nearly $350,000 reflects a healthy barometer for the neighborhood.

1354 Maple View Place SE in Historic Anacostia today.

Across the street at 1347 Maple View Place SE, a full renovation effort by The L'Enfant Trust and its many partners is nearing completion on a late 19th century home developed by local street car owner Henry A. Griswold. The trust expects to list 1347 Maple View Place SE, along with another home which the 35-year old organization has rehabbed at 2010 14th Street SE, likely around the low to mid $300,000s.

Canvassing old Anacostia over the past year, William Alston-El and I have met many earnest individuals and progressive investors painstakingly renovating properties throughout the city's first subdivision. Despite a spate of gun violence that has gripped the neighborhood in recent months, the new life of 1354 Maple View Place SE is undeniable evidence old Anacostia is slowly on the rise.

John Muller is an associate librarian, journalist and historian. He has written two books, Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC, Mark Twain in Washington, DC, and also writes at Death and Life of Old Anacostia


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Looks great!

by Neil Flanagan on May 7, 2014 11:33 am • linkreport

Nice house but...why should somebody that wants to put money into a decayed house in a struggling neighborhood have to deal with the fanatics at the Historic Preservation Office? The marginal cost of historical preservation is a major obstacle to income equality and improved housing stock for poor Washingtonians. Disgraceful.

by Hill Dude on May 7, 2014 12:52 pm • linkreport

Why wasn't this house classified as blighted, which would jack up the tax rate to 10%, which would either motivate the owner to rehab immediately or not get paid and result in the house getting sold at tax auction to someone who would rehab it immediately? There are lots of blighted properties like this in the city yet only a small fraction of them get classified as blighted. Not sure why.

by Falls Church on May 7, 2014 1:21 pm • linkreport

Thanks for sharing this! I fell in love with 1348 Maple View Place a few years ago when it was on sale, but didn't have the funds to do the work it needed. That is a great block. A lot of folks in Anacostia are hoping for more home ownership and housing opportunities for middle class people and this fits the bill.

by sbc on May 7, 2014 1:23 pm • linkreport

Falls Church, yes. Here's the detail:

Last year, the council doubled the vacant rate from $5 per $100 of assessed value to $10 per $100 of assessed value at the suggestion of Councilman Kwame Brown, D-at large. It was an attempt to nudge owners of vacant homes and nuisance properties into action. The $10 rate was more than 10 times the residential rate of 85 cents and more than five times the commercial rates of $1.65 to $1.85, prompting complaints from some homeowners and real estate investors.
In a preliminary July vote, the council agreed to return the rate to $5. But in passing final budget legislation Tuesday, councilmembers — again at Brown’s suggestion — did away with the vacant rate altogether, saying it had produced unintended consequences, and replaced it with a $10 rate that will apply only to blighted properties. A blighted property is “unsafe, insanitary, or which is otherwise determined to threaten the public health, safety, or general welfare of the community” because of broken walls, roofs, windows, balconies or other poorly kept features. Boarded up properties will also count as blighted.
Owners of well-maintained vacant properties, including vacant lots, will pay the regular commercial and residential rates.


by Hill Dude on May 7, 2014 1:59 pm • linkreport

Hill Dude

So it sounds like this property met the definition of blighted but that work started on the property before the blighted law passed. That said, there still seem to be plenty of properties that meet the blighted definition that aren't classified that way in the tax database. If the city got more aggressive on that, it would likely result in much faster rehab of neighborhoods. A lot of these properties are stuck in bank pre-foreclosure purgatory which can take a long time to resolve. A tax foreclosure and sale can happen much quicker.

by Falls Church on May 7, 2014 2:26 pm • linkreport

Correction: Looks like the blighted law passed in 2009 but the property wasn't purchased until late 2012. Should have been classified as blighted.

by Falls Church on May 7, 2014 2:29 pm • linkreport

Very interesting post, enjoyed all the history! Plus, it's a got a happy ending.

I've been watching the one on 14th st se and it's coming along nicely. L'Efant Trust does really nice work it seems. I took some photos of it about 2 weeks ago:

by h st ll on May 7, 2014 2:35 pm • linkreport

That blighted tax rate is a mixed bag. It will go so high no one wants to pay off the tax amount. After renovations it wont turn enough of a profit. Then it ends up with the city and DHCD is real sucky about facilitating rehabilitations. They arent paying interest on a construction loan or paying any mortgages to make them go faster, you know?

That house has an awesome view too! Maple View will be the best block in Anacostia once all the rehabs are done, there are several.

by anon7 on May 9, 2014 12:05 pm • linkreport

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