A Georgia Avenue theater’s historic facade has been absent and in storage since 2007, but a signed agreement with a developer calls for rebuilding and returning it to the avenue in the future.

Left: Façade of the Georgia Theater from original blueprints. Right: Former Georgia Theater shortly before it was demolished. Images courtesy of Peter Sefton.

The Georgia Theater was built in 1912 and at the time it was dismantled was Washington’s oldest surviving theater after the Minnehaha, which today houses Ben’s Chili Bowl. It was designed by B. Frank Myers and was part of a one story brick strip that contained three stores and the theater valued at $7,000 to build.

In October 1917 it was renamed Park View, but soon afterward became a store and eventually an auto repair shop.

In 2005, the D.C. Preservation League (DCPL) Landmarks committee was advised that the theater building had been sold, but that its historic features would be incorporated into a condominium project. Yet, in 2007 a demolition permit application had been filed. At that point the Georgia had seen better days. A truck had rebounded from a collision earlier that spring damaging the corner of the building and causing the developer to opt for demolition rather that incorporating the theater into the project.

Georgia Avenue today.

DCPL negotiated an agreement in 2007 with the developer to “carefully dismantle the façade of the building and move it to a secure location for storage during construction. Before dismantling, it [was to] be documented through measured drawings and/or photographs sufficient to accurately reconstruct it. Elements of the façade to be restored for reinstallation include[d] the sign; the brick piers, front wall, and parapet; and the metal frieze, cornice, coping and all decorative elements. In addition, the missing finials, seen in the original permit drawings [were to] be reinstalled in cast stone or a similar material. All materials removed [were to] be repaired and reused, not replaced.”

As 2010 began the new structure appeared to be complete with the exception of the façade. Should the community fight to have this historically significant façade returned to Georgia Avenue? What do you think?

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest, primarily within the District. He’s worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He’s been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and is a candidate for the DC Council, Ward 1. He has a MS in Design from Arizona State University with strong interests in preservation, planning, and zoning. Kent is also the force behind the blog Park View, DC.