As Washington, DC’s citywide historic preservation nonprofit, DCPL has nominated a variety of historic landmarks and districts over the past five-decades in an effort to preserve, protect, and enhance the historic and built environment of the city. From restaurants and houses to office buildings and historic districts, DCPL has strived to ensure the preservation and promotion of DC’s history through its physical landmarks.
In 1971, the Old Post Office on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, a magnificent Richardsonian Romanesque-style building, was slated for demolition, with only its tower to be retained. Alison Owings, a news-writer and producer for WRC TV (an NBC affiliate), was distressed at the steady destruction of many of Washington’s historic buildings. Encouraged by Washington Post architecture critic Wolf Von Eckardt, Owings decided that a Washington advocacy group was needed, and she came up with a catchy name, “Don’t Tear It Down”. Early on, Owings joined forces with Terry B. Morton of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, whose work had led her to conclude that Washington needed a preservation-specific advocacy group. From here, “Don’t Tear It Down” expanded and continued to fight for the preservation of DC’s historic buildings and districts.
Over the last 50 years, DCPL has sponsored more than 160 historic landmark nominations, and engaged in hard-fought battles for numerous buildings, structures, and districts across Washington. In recent years, DCPL’s landmark nomination efforts have reflected a diverse assortment of building types and sites with cultural importance to a wide variety of groups. Some recent landmarks include the Nixon-Mounsey House, Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, Slowe-Burrill House, the Furies Collective, and Uptown Theater. Additionally, as the historic preservation movement has matured, it has become an accepted element of local, state, and federal public policy.
DCPL has worked tirelessly to preserve Washington’s sense of place and to save many of the unique features that define the capital city’s history, architecture, and culture. Washington’s historic character is one of its greatest assets and a vital component of local culture, and economic growth and prosperity. DCPL continues to make an inestimable contribution to the protection and understanding of the history of the District of Columbia.
The historic sites featured in this inventory follow a reverse chronological order, with the most recent designation listed first, and so on. If you’d like to begin with the first DCPL-sponsored landmarks, stretching back to the early 1970s, please scroll down to the bottom of the inventory and work upward.
Note: This introduction and the sites included in this tour have been adapted from our 50th Anniversary Celebration Program. This event took place on May 20, 2022 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library.