Metro Weekly

Furies Collective gains ANC approval as it seeks historic status

Achieving D.C. landmark status a step toward becoming first lesbian site on National Register of Historic Places

Furies Collective House site, as photographed for its registration form seeking to be listed on the Register of Historic Places (Photo: Patsy Lynch).
Furies Collective House site, as photographed for its nomination to be listed on the Register of Historic Places (Photo: Patsy Lynch).

A lesbian feminist separatist collective has inched closer to its goal of being listed on the National Register of Historic Places, after ANC officials approved the property to become a DC Historic Landmark.

The Furies Collective house, a two-story rowhouse located at 219 11th St. SE, had its nomination approved Tuesday evening by ANC 6B to become a D.C. Historic Landmark. The nomination now heads to the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board, which will consider it on Thursday, Jan. 28.

If approved, the Furies Collective would become the second queer historic site, along with the house of former LGBT rights activist Frank Kameny, and the first lesbian historic site in the District.

The house is important to LGBT history in the District because it served as the operational center for the Furies, a 12-woman lesbian second-wave feminist collective that advocated the idea of separatism as a way to end sexism in a larger patriarchal society. The Furies advocated these views and shared stories from their personal experiences through the publication of the lesbian/feminist issue of motive magazine and The Furies newspaper between 1971 and 1973.

According to local LGBT historical expert Mark Meinke, who helped prepare the nomination, the site has received support in the form of 15 to 20 letters, including one from the National LGBTQ Task Force, encouraging the ANC and the Historic Preservation Review Board to approve it as an historic landmark in the District.

Once it is approved, the Historic Preservation Review Board will submit the Furies Collective’s nomination for consideration to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, alongside 90,000 other similar sites that have been deemed of architectural or historical significance.

Of the more than 90,000 places listed on the National Register of Historic Places, currently only four are LGBT-related: the Carrington House in Fire Island, N.Y.; the Cherry Grove Community House and Theater, also in Fire Island; the James Merrill House, in Stonington, Conn.; and the aforementioned Kameny House.

The addition of the Furies Collective and a pending nomination for the Bayard Rustin House in New York City would bring the total of LGBT historic sites listed on the Register to six, with the Furies Collective house being the only lesbian site to achieve that honor.

Two other sites — the Stonewall Inn in New York City, and the Henry Gerber House in Chicago — are the only two queer sites from among 2,500 National Historic Landmarks. Because the criteria for National Historic Landmarks is more stringent, Meinke expects that the Furies Collective will remain on the Register of Historic Places but will likely not be approved for national landmark status.

Prior to his death, Frank Kameny had agreed to submit his house for nomination as a National Historic Landmark, but that process has been halted indefinitely after the current owner of the property refused to allow the process to move forward.

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