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Next meeting: Tuesday, February 20, 2018; 7:30 p.m. in the Council Room. All meetings are open to the public.

A NEW AND IMPROVED HISTORIC DISTRICT NOMINATION FOR WASHINGTON GROVE

By Wendy E. Harris
Historic Preservation Commission

For the past few months, the HPC (in consultation with the Maryland Historic Trust) has been developing a scope of work to prepare an updated and expanded National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Washington Grove Historic District. This January the Town awarded a contract to Robinson & Associates of Washington, D.C. who will now undertake this project. The contract will run for two years with a completion date of August 31, 2019.

The original nomination was finalized in the late 1970s, with the actual designation occurring in 1980. Although the National Register of Historic Places was created in 1966, it was quite slow to evolve. As a result, Washington Grove’s nomination document was very much a product of the “early days” in preparing historic district nominations. Since that time new concepts, standards, and criteria have been developed that were not considered in the original nomination, which for example, contained descriptions of only eight “representative” buildings, reflecting only a single period of significance (the Camp Meeting Era). The loosely defined boundaries of the original historic district were another problem. In fact, in one version of the nomination much of the West Woods was excluded from the historic district. Although designation as a historic district has proven valuable over the years, several of the original nomination’s omissions have hindered the Town in its efforts to protect its historic character. This became evident in 2013 when Preservation Maryland listed Washington Grove among the state’s most endangered historic places.

All of these issues, and others, will be addressed as Robinson & Associates revises the 1980 nomination. Over the years, the firm has completed historic preservation projects for the National Mall Historic District, Antietam National Battlefield, Appomattox Court House, Georgetown Historic District, and Shenandoah National Park. We are very excited about working with them. Washington Grove residents are encouraged to look for more descriptions of work on the historic district updating in upcoming issues of “The Town Bulletin.”

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