Georgetown neighbors take on Tudor Place
National treasures once belonging to George Washington's family are in danger of rotting away in Georgetown.
The private Tudor Place Foundation has plans to preserve nearly two centuries of documents, household items and textiles belonging to the family which are currently housed in hot, humid and crammed conditions.
“Too much humidity can rot leather,” said Leslie Buhler, executive director of the Tudor Place Foundation. “Too much humidity can cause a breakdown in the fibers of fabrics, too little can make things brittle, so there's a fine line.”
In the property’s residence, in two upstairs rooms, the Foundation has stored Martha Washington’s needlepoint and chairs once belonging to George Washington.
The temperature in those rooms, Buhler says, recently was recorded at 84 degrees. In an upstairs attic where more of the collection is stored, the temperature can reach 115 degrees. Buhler says the 206 year old Tudor Place lacks the temperature controls to properly store and preserve these national treasures.
The Tudor Place Foundation is working on plans to build a new collections and archive storage facility on the property.
“The preservation plan, which this site plan informs, is very much needed and urgently needed because of the condition of the main house,” Buhler said.
The plan also includes a new gatehouse, an educational center and greenhouse, as envisioned in an easement by the property’s last owner, Armistead Peter III. However, a few Tudor Place neighbors oppose what's in the works.
“The issue comes down to a concern about the size and mass of those structures and the kind of impact they would have outside the perimeter,” said ANC 2E commissioner Tom Birch.
Tudor Place presented two, minor changes concerning orientation of the education building and gatehouse to the plans to the ANC Tuesday.
“While there had been some downsizing of what had been proposed initially, some concerns still exist,” said Birch.
Birch said neighbors want to see updated drawings of the plans and not just maps.
“I would hope that people would recognize that what is here is something this community should be proud of,” said Buhler.
The Tudor Place Foundation has made 15 changes to its preservation plan since January 2010. Buhler said the preservation is evolving and has yet to reach the design phase. Once the designs are drawn up, the National Park Service, Old Georgetown Board, Commission of Fine Arts, DC Board of Zoning Adjustment and DC Historic Preservation Office must give approval. Buhler estimates construction won’t begin for another five to ten years.
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