Tour participants listen to Beth Purcell (dark shirt, pointing) explain house features
along the 300 block of 14th Street, NE. Photo: Elizabeth Nelson
April 2008 CHRS News
Beyond the Boundaries on Tennessee Avenue, Warren Street, and Constitution Avenue
by Beth Purcell
On March 15, 2008, thirty neighbors joined Elizabeth Nelson, Donna Hanousek, and Beth Purcell for our second historic walking tour of North Lincoln Park.
200 block of Tennessee Avenue, NE. Photo: Elizabeth Nelson
On the 200 and 300 blocks of Tennessee Avenue and Corbin Place, we saw multiple Flemish bond rowhouses constructed in the 1910s by Harry A. Kite. Excellent examples of “daylighter” rowhouses include Kite’s 1916 porch-front houses at 221-235 Tennessee Avenue, NE (see photo of 259 Tennessee below). During this time, middle class buyers wanted bungalows. Although land on Capitol Hill was too expensive to build and sell detached houses like bungalows, these buyers could afford rowhouses. Architects successfully incorporated bungalowstyle elements (e.g. porches and dormers) into rowhouses. For example, these Tennessee Avenue rowhouses have a front porch over the full width of the house and a mansard roof with gable dormers (some of the most spectacular dormers on Capitol Hill — three sets of windows, each with nine lights).
259 Tennessee Avenue, NE.
The one-story brick rowhouses at 1337-1353 C Street, NE (see photo below), were designed and built by Charles Gessford in 1886. They are 11 feet wide and 25 feet deep, with a stepped design at the cornice. His other small houses at 257-261 Warren Street, NE, have been demolished. Gessford is one of the best known Capitol Hill architect/ builders. Other small, two-story narrow houses are nearby (e.g., 310-334 14th Street, NE (1912); 1348-1360 C Street, NE (1911); 1362-1378 C Street, NE (1912)). Early real property tax records suggest that these small houses were once rental properties.
One-story rowhouses at 1337-1353 C Street, NE.
The rowhouse development at 1400-1434 C Street, 311-319 14th Street (see photo below), NE, and 310-340 15th Street, NE, was designed by Albert H. Beers in 1910. These rowhouses have Flemish bond brick. The houses also have a two-bay front porch, with a projecting cornice in front of the parapet wall in two alternating designs: an eyebrow raking cornice on center and a stepped pediment with the step in the center. Beers is credited with Harry Wardman’s breakthrough designs for porchfront rowhouses. This design, for another builder, is an example of early porch-front houses.
300 block C Street, NE designed by Albert Beers in 1910. Note the projecting cornice in front of the parapet wall in two alternating designs: an eyebrow raking cornice on center and a stepped pediment with the step in the center. Photo: Roxanne Walker
The flat-front brick rowhouses at 241-247 Warren Street, NE (see photos below), were built for Herman R. Howenstein in 1907. This was early in his career, before he had his own construction company. In the 1910s-1920s, he built many daylighter porch-front rowhouses all over Capitol Hill. His rowhouses have a special look: beige brick, with a basketweave design over the windows and a straight mansard slate roof with a single gable dormer.
Flat-front brick rowhouses, built in 1907 by Herman Howerstein, 200 block of Warren Street, NE.
The final stop was 1345-1363 Constitution Avenue, NE, designed and built by the famous architect B. Stanley Simmons in 1892. These houses combine design elements from Richardsonian Romanesque (coursed ashlar stone and foliate carving) and Queen Anne (gable roofs, oriel windows, belt coursing). Although these houses are just inside the historic district boundaries, four of them would have been demolished in the 1990s. Vigilant neighbors used the historic district protections to successfully block the planned demolition and saved them for us to enjoy.
More tours are planned – watch the News for a schedule. Please let us know if you and your neighbors would like a walking tour of your Beyond the Boundaries area. Contact Elizabeth Nelson, Elizabeth_knits@yahoo.com.
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