Sixty years ago, there was an effort to extend I-395 through the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood. “It would have destroyed the neighborhood just like it did Southwest,” Patrick Crowley says. “So a bunch of people got together and started to fight it.”
Nowadays, there are Advisory Neighborhood Commissions — you know them as ANCs — throughout D.C., which is also governed by a historical review board and much stricter zoning regulation. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society deserves much of the credit for that. “This group really paved the way for citizens to have an impact on city planning,” says Crowley.
Crowley, who serves as the treasurer of CHRS, is also in charge of the group’s 58th annual house and garden tour. The focus this year is on the area around Stanton Park, including long-established homes just behind the Supreme Court in a traditionally quiet part of town, as well as the refurbished homes bordering the bustling new H Street district.
“When you think of Capitol Hill, you think of townhouses. But the insides are actually quite a bit different from house to house,” he says. Along the way you’ll find expansive libraries (“It wouldn’t be Capitol Hill without them”), winding attic staircases and large but hidden gardens.
An energy consultant in pipeline regulation by day, Crowley has spent nearly two decades in restoration in and around his neighborhood. He helped restore the all-but abandoned Congressional Cemetery back to a national historic landmark destination over 15 years ago. Most recently, he’s converted a townhouse near Sixth and E Streets NE that
for nearly 20 years had served as a church. “The church had gutted my house and the townhouse next door and made it one big space,” he says. You can see the fruits of his restoration labor: Crowley has included the house on this year’s tour. — Doug Rule
The Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s 58th Annual Mother’s Day House & Garden Tour is Saturday, May 9, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 10, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $40 after Friday, May 8. Call 202-543-0425 or visit chrs.org.
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