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Anacostia's historic homes are on the mend

On Monday, more than a hundred people gathered in front of 2010 14th Street SE to cut the ceremonial ribbon on a new day in old Anacostia. This isn't the only one; renovation is coming to a half-dozen historic yet decaying homes in the immediate blocks.

Ribbon cutting at 2010 14th Street SE. Photos by the author.

The L'Enfant Trust, a preservation organization, is rehabilitating 2010 14th Street, SE. The work from it and other property owners herald a larger regeneration reverberating throughout the neighborhood.

"There are 3 types of people," said local activist William Alston-El, who first introduced me to the back story of 2010 14th Street SE years ago. "Those who make things happen; those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened. Anyone with their eyes half-open can see things are happening in Anacostia. It's time for us to start working to make things happen. The time for wondering and watching has passed."

1347 Maple View Place SE.

While 2010 14th Street SE is expected to go on the market in August, The L'Enfant Trust is continuing its work on 1347 Maple View Place SE. As a crew worked on the exterior of 1347, across the street private investors had teams hard at work on 1344 and 1348 Maple View Place SE, which sold last month for $400,000, according to property records.

1344 Maple View Place SE.

1348 Maple View Place SE.

2126 15th Street SE

At 2126 15th Street SE, adjacent to the entrance of the parking lot of the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, a local development and contracting team was active inside and outside of the house.

Built in 1892 at the junction of Jefferson and Adams Street, the home's foundation rests on compact clay. The young owners of the home, who have formed an architecture firm, expect to move in later this fall.

View from the 2nd floor of 1352 U Street SE.

From the 2nd floor of the recently interior renovated 1352 U Street SE, formerly Jackson Street, one enjoys a panoramic view of the historic corner of 14th and U Streets SE. To the left is the old Masonic Lodge built in the early 1890s; in the middle is an open-air market space that predates the Civil War; and to the right is the old Anacostia Methodist Episcopal Church built in 1892.

A local construction crew has cleared out the over-grown back yard and transformed the home's interior. The home next door is vacant and the backyard is a "jungle," said the lead contractor on site.

1350 U Street SE sits vacant, awaiting renovation.

A presence in the neighborhood since 1967, Alston-EL said after watching the ribbon cutting at 2010 14th Street SE and visiting a number of homes with active construction crews, "It's been a 'new day' in Anacostia for as long as I've been here." After a pause and consideration, "But they might just be right this time."

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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gosh--I had considered buying 1348 Maple View Place about 5 years ago but dismissed the idea as insane given my status as a single person with no DIY or construction supervision experience. I'm thrilled that so much is happening on that block, and a bit wistful not to have been a part of it.

I don't know how the L'Enfant Trust gets its buildings or chooses its next projects, but one I'd suggest is the boarded up multifamily building near the corner of Shannon and Chicago (the ones around it are 2249 and 2243 Shannon Place SE, so I don't know if it's 2247 or 2245?. Nothing seems to have been done to it in years. Last April I was told by DCRA that "This property is currently being taxed at the blighted rate (class 4). The most recent inspection occurred on Jan. 30, 2013." I can't find it in OTR's real property database, though (so I don't know who owns it or if they're paid up) and it's not on the tax sale list.

It is a big building--3 floors above ground, and maybe a basement too. Whether it was condo or rental, it could bring a lot of people to the area and really make the block more welcoming. It's a 5-minute walk to the metro, too.

by sbc on Jul 25, 2014 1:45 pm • linkreport

Love it! Such a high quality renovation, also.

Is the Church of Agape (red building pictured and identified as Mason Lodge) still for sale? I remember they were asking a lot, 850k if i remember, though it's a big building.

by h st ll on Jul 25, 2014 2:27 pm • linkreport

it's all about critical mass and quality work. (Too often people don't do quality work.) This is exciting to hear about.

by Richard Layman on Jul 25, 2014 2:51 pm • linkreport

Well said RL. You need to write a piece on HA soon. I would add that there is something to the lefant trust model - non profit but getting shit done and then selling it for market rate and reinvesting the monies in more renos in the nhood. Some of the great attributes may be attributable to strong management though.

Awesome to see a positive article from the author - given his (understandable) skepticism it says a lot.

by h st ll on Jul 25, 2014 11:36 pm • linkreport

FWIW, there is an 'a' missing from Anacostia in the title.

by selxic on Jul 28, 2014 7:14 pm • linkreport

I've fixed it. Thanks.

by David Alpert on Jul 29, 2014 5:02 pm • linkreport

I second h st II's astute comment about the author's optimism. If John Muller thinks things are looking up in Anacostia, things must really be on the upswing.

Also, about the article itself, I was very pleased that, in addition to highlighting the great work being done by the L'Enfant Trust, the author described a primary driver of change in the neighborhood--individual homeowners taking personal interest in their property. For every house, the L'Enfant Trust is fixing in the neighborhood, there are dozens of houses getting renovated by homeowners, new and old alike. I feel like sometimes people describe that type of change as haphazard or unpromising, but that painstaking endeavor is at the heart of our neighborhood's revitalization. And what beautiful results. Thank you for posting such lovely pictures of the neighborhood!

by i heart newcomb on Aug 3, 2014 11:04 pm • linkreport

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