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The Waggaman House - Lost

Updated: Mar 5

By Frank Leone, Nov. 4, 2021

Since its founding as the Foggy Bottom Restoration Association in 1955, the FBA has fought to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood. In keeping with its roots and original objectives, the FBA’s current mission statement indicates the FBA will “promote historic preservation in the area.”

On January 29, 2021, The George Washington University filed for a permit to demolish the 135-year old Waggaman Row House – you may have known it as the White Victorian Row located across the intersection from Whole Foods, at 22nd and I Streets NW.

The house at 837 22nd St. was originally part of a group of 11 rowhouses erected for developer Thomas E. Waggaman in 1886. Its residents included GWU students and a woman who worked as a linotype operator for 40 years at the Washington Post and refused to sell the property to GWU. After she died, GWU bought the property in 2000. GWU used it to house the Women’s Studies Department and finally the Nashman Center for Community Engagement.

GW indicated that it intended to use the site for “green space,” but the removal of the historic house will make the current park area less attractive (noisier and less private) by removing a buffer to I Street. In any case, GWU intends to develop the entire area, including the current small park and dog area. Thus any additional green space gained from the small footprint by demolition of the house is temporary.

The FBA asked the Ward 2A Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) to engage with the community and GWU in discussions about preserving the House. See FBA ANC letter 3.12.2021 below. But the ANC declined to address the issue. We also wrote to the GWU President and Board. See GWU Letter 5.21.2021 below. None were interested in preserving the house. GWU demolished it on October 7, 2021.

GWU also refused our request to document the house prior to demolition. We still hope that the university will adopt such a policy and document other properties it did not designate as worthy of historic preservation, but still rich in history.

Finally, here's a nice article from John Kelly in the Washington Post about the house:

FBA ANC Letter 3.12.2021
Download PDF • 2.04MB
FBA GWU Letter 5.21.2021
Download PDF • 1.29MB



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