Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Remembrance of Things Past

You could say that the downtown area of Washington is lacking in soul and for the most part, you'd be right.  Block after block of stone and glass coupled with a relatively low height restrictions combine to make an uninspired streetscape.  All those office buildings are functional for their tenants but not so interesting for someone out for a stroll. 

Every now and then, though, you might happen upon a scene like this, a relic of a time, perhaps at the end of the 19th century when this block was all stately town homes with interesting architectural details.  Some times it's the result of a stubborn home owner, refusing to give way to the developers, despite the completely changed character of the neighborhood.  It's a scene that can bring to mind the children's classic, The Little House, although happily this building is in much better shape than the main character in that book was at the height of urban development.

I'm pretty sure that no one lives here anymore.  Still, it's fun to imagine what life might have been like behind those doors.


  1. Great photo of the house! As one of those who would say that the downtown area of D.C. lacks soul, it's good to see something with a bit of charm. I've always wondered about the height restrictions in DC but haven't ever done any research as to the reason. Is it due to aesthetics, security or something else?

  2. Mary Kay: The original height restriction was to ensure that no building was taller than the U.S. Capitol. This 1899 law was amended in 1910 to limit height to to the width of the adjacent street plus 20 feet (e.g a building facing a 90-foot-wide street can only be 110 feet tall). That's what gives DC its low rise character, something I like as opposed to the caverns created by skyscrapers that you find in NY.

  3. Height restrictions: sort of like Paris, n'est-ce pas? ;-)