3019 P Street, NW, (Square 1269, Lot 866)
Dear Mr. Bertele:
In its meeting of 19 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed alterations to the masonry garden enclosure located at the rear of 3019 P Street, NW in the Old Georgetown historic district (case number OG 09-082, HPA 09-134). The Commission adopted the recommendation of the Old Georgetown Board to retain the open brickwork elements of the existing garden wall and not to approve the proposed design for a higher fence of brick piers and wood panels.
A copy of the report of the Old Georgetown Board is enclosed. The Commission recommended referring the project to the District of Columbia's Historic Preservation Review Board.
As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, AIA
3019 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
cc: Merle Thorpe, Merle Thorpe Architects
David Maloney, D.C. Historic Preservation Office
OG 09-082 (HPA 09-134)
3019 P Street, NW (Square 1269, Lot 866)
Removal of brick garden walls for brick piers and wood panels
Permit – Appeal by Owner
REPORT: The main structure at 3019 P Street was erected ca. 1826, with rear additions erected in 1934 and 1954. The second addition included a garden wall with a U-shaped footprint; the wall's alignment accommodates a heritage elm tree at the northwest corner of the property and a garage set back from the northeast corner. The rear of the property extends along Orchard Lane, the widest alley in Georgetown, which serves garages and alley dwellings. This type of garden wall is unique along Orchard Lane, but can be found elsewhere in the neighborhood. The wall's open-work brick pattern is typical of the mid-twentieth century, serving as a means of partial enclosure while allowing for greater movement of air, an important amenity in the Georgetown climate.
In September 2008, the original concept proposal included a two-story hyphen connecting the two additions, alterations for fenestration, mechanical equipment, and new fencing (OG 08-277). The Old Georgetown Board (OGB) requested minor revisions to the alterations but recommended against the removal of the existing garden walls. In October, the applicant sought approval to remove only the west portion of the garden wall. The project received concept approval at this time, including the removal of the west garden wall and alley steps and its replacement with a wooden fence due to its limited visibility from public space and for the benefit of the root system of the elm.
In January 2009, a new concept submission was presented by the applicant, again seeking approval to remove the remaining L-shaped portion of the garden walls (OG 09-060). The existing wall (7'-2" h.) is comprised of a brick retaining wall (2' h.) and brick piers and open-work panels (5'-2" h.). The applicant again requested to erect a new fence (8'-8" h.) comprised of the existing retaining wall supporting new brick piers (6'-8" h.) with wood panels (6' h.).
The OGB commented that the existing wall is the tallest along Orchard Lane and is visually prominent from 30th Street. The Board also commented that masonry, rather than wood with masonry piers, represents a higher material quality; the members also objected to the proposal because it introduced a trash enclosure visible from the side street. The OGB reaffirmed its recommendation against the removal of the brick walls and suggested vegetation, interior wood screening, and planters on top of the existing walls if a greater degree of privacy was desired.
RECOMMENDATION: Recommend against issuance of permit for proposed demolition of the masonry garden walls. Refer to the Historic Preservation Review Board.