From the Neighbors of Tudor Place
By October 8, 2010 0 1030•
-We write in response to a press release and neighborhood mailing by Tudor Place Foundation announcing the public presentation of a Master Plan for Tudor Place, the historic house museum and garden in Georgetown. The Plan includes the construction of a two-story above ground Visitor Center on 31st Street, a large one story Education Center behind 1670 31st Street, a large Greenhouse visible from 32nd Street, and a large Collections Storage addition at the south end of the historic Garage that currently tops out at six stories above 32nd Street. All of these projects are to be located at the perimeter of the property and will transform the Tudor Place from a residential into an institutional property and will diminish its historic character.
We, the undersigned sixty-plus neighbors of Tudor Place, are adamantly opposed to several aspects of this plan. We believe that other community residents, if faced with the same circumstances, would react as we have—politely, proactively and persistently—to create a plan satisfactory to all parties.
We support the goals of this Master Plan, which are to ensure the long-term preservation of the historic house and the archives and collections, to better secure the property, and to continue the educational mission of the Foundation.
We live on the streets around Tudor Place, and we value the historic house, especially its landscape. We have been staunch supporters of Tudor Place over the years, volunteering time and donating funds. We have testified at past BZA hearings in support of Tudor Place.
When we first learned of the Master Plan earlier this year, we were stunned that the Plan had been in preparation for two years without any consultation with the surrounding community. We were shocked by the scope of the proposed plan: a near 50% increase (about 10,000 SF) to the existing physical plant at Tudor Place (about 21,000 SF including the 10,000 SF main house).
Since then, a “working group” of neighbors has generated alternatives that would accommodate the expressed needs of Tudor Place while reducing the impact of the proposed construction on neighboring properties. While Tudor Place has responded with minor adjustments, the most negative aspects of the original Plan remain.
When asked about digitizing the archives and storing them offsite so that the building space could be reduced, Tudor Place told us that digitizing was very expensive and that the collections should not leave the property. We accepted that.
We asked about Tudor Place purchasing one of the larger nearby houses and configuring it to accommodate their needs. We were told that was too expensive.
We asked if the historic value of the 1960s fallout shelter preempted its use as collections storage. After being initially told that Tudor Place would consider this option, we have since been told that the fallout shelter will not be considered for collections storage. We have accepted that.
We asked if the Greenhouse could be located on the south side of the historic garage building where a smaller greenhouse is now located. We were told that while this could be acceptable, it was however the only suitable location for the planned collections storage facility. We have NOT accepted this.
Tudor Place has done little to accommodate our concerns and has dismissed our proposed alternatives as inefficient or too expensive. The obscenely large collections storage addition to an already enormous building along 32nd Street has now been reduced to a very large addition, still larger and rising much higher than the houses that face it. We proposed placing this storage facility underground. The large one-story Education Center is still proposed a short distance from neighbors’ properties. We proposed locating it closer to the existing building where it would have little or no impact. The Greenhouse has been reduced slightly in size but will still be a dominant presence in the currently vegetated hillside.
We have presented Tudor Place with viable alternatives to their Plan that would satisfy their needs as well as the concerns of the neighbors. This $10-12 million plan will take Tudor Place into its next 50 years. Isn’t doing the right thing worth some minor sacrifices in efficiency or cost? We are looking for a Plan that will unite the neighborhood in support.
Neighbors of Tudor Place
Jennifer and Tim Altemus
Melissa and Doug Anderson
Carl Colby and Dorothy Browning
Kathy Bissell and Lee Congdon
Mary Ellen Connell
Ellen Clare and Scott Dreyer
Margaret and Stephen Goldsmith
Helen Darling and Bradford Gray
Edward and Vi Fightner
Laura Harper and Arnold Robert
Georgina Owen and Outerbridge Horsey
Corry and Jim Rooks
Carol and Leigh Seaver
Mindy and Dwight Smith
George and Elizabeth Stevens
Denise and Les Taylor
Danielle Tarraf and Philipp Steiner