Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1300 block of Girard: the crappiest block in the neighborhood?

The other day I was walking along Girard, and noticed that the northern side of the 1300 block is really in bad shape: out of 7 buildings, 1 is abandoned and being renovated (slowly), another is empty and being renovated, two are in pretty bad shape, and 1 is a massive renovation on an apartment building, so it's all screwed up too. It's the worst side of a block in the neighborhood.

Going from east to west, there's the Easter Seals child care, which is in ok shape. Then there's the detached house that used to be Asian American LEAD, which provides mentoring for Asian students and is now downtown. The place is a wreck -- see it at right. It looked like it had been empty for some time, and there's a massive hole in the front and all kinds of debris in the yard. It had a big porch before that looked like it could have been nice, had it been fixed up. I'm not sure if it's being renovated or torn down, and I'm not sure which I would prefer considering the way it looks now.

Next to that is what I call the Haunted Mansion, a big mansion owned by Dorothy Brizill and Gary Imhoff, two local political activists. It's been fixed up a bit, but for awhile there there were broken and missing windows, messed up columns, debris in the yard and other problems with the house -- it was actually condemned in 2008. The house was the inspiration for this blog's Abandoned House Watch series, if that tells you anything.

Then next to that is 1337 Girard, which is another representative in the Abandoned House Watch series, which I think used to house squatters. It's slowly getting fixed up as I see workers there all the time, and until yesterday there was a massive hole in the facade of the house on the second floor. Today that hole is repaired with a door, which is odd since it's on the second floor. We'll see what happens there, maybe making it multiple units, a walkup or something?

Continuing on and you see 1339 Girard, with the honor of being the nicest house on the block. That's not saying much, as this place has seen better days too. The box spring in the yard is gone though, which is good.

Next to that is an overgrown lot -- or I thought it was a lot until I looked at the city's property map on DC Atlas. It's actually an alley. Not sure how an alley got fenced off and filled with plants and some garbage.

Then as you continue the trip west, you come to a section of missing sidewalk. It's been like that so long that people have worn a path in the grass going around it. And yesterday there was a full trash can tipped over there. Nice.

And finally, you come to the NCBA Estates retirement home building, which was kind of grim looking. It's getting renovated with a nicer facade and balconies, but it's currently covered in scaffolding and there's construction stuff all over.

The north side of this block is rough sight, giving parts of Detroit and St. Louis a run for their money. And even stranger, the southern side of the block is perfectly nice looking with well kept up row houses. It's hands down the worst-looking stretch of road around.

Let's hope this stuff gets fixed, and soon.

UPDATE: A reader passed along the below photo of the back of Dorothy Brizill's house (the Haunted Mansion) which was hit by a tree during the hurricane. Crazy. It looks like only the facade is remaining. I wonder if it's just been the facade for awhile though, I'd be surprised that a tree could do this much damage.


  1. I live on 1300 Harvard St, across the alley from the crappy-looking side of Girard. I’m happy to have millions of dollars worth of improvements made to my block.

    BTW… You should see the back of Dorthy Brazill's house now. A large tree toppled into it Monday, two days after the hurricane. At least we think it fell Monday. Maybe the house will be re-condemned. The "fixed-up" front is a total fa├žade. The back looked like it was about to collapse before the tree fell into it. I’m surprised it is still standing.

  2. Whoa, I missed that! I went by the other day. I'll wander into the alley.

  3. Minor correction. The Asian American Lead program is now at 2100 New Hampshire Avenue, NW. That is the third floor of Augustana Lutheran Church at the intersection of V and New Hampshire, between 15th and 16th NW.

  4. I love when Andrew bares his Ass Cobra fangs! Hopefully, this side of the block will get some more development, but the Retirement home is a great start!

  5. Anon #2, right, but they had signs in front of this building for a long time.

    Anon #3, gracias!

  6. Not sure why you include NCBA Estates as part of this post, since it is in fact being renovated! Pardon the dust, as they say, but it's not in the same category as the rest of the properties.

  7. Yes, but there's still tons of construction equipment and debris behind the fence. There used to be stinky porta potties out back too, but those are gone, thankfully.

  8. You could step up the usefulness of your blog with just a tad more effort. For example the plans for the two places under construction are there for anyone to see who walks up to the house to read the permits. I don't mean to sound snarky but the writing feels lazy without that. On the other hand nice work discovering what is going on with the vacant lot (though again a bit more investigative instinct could answer your own questions about why an alley was fenced off and make for a really interesting story).

    Another interesting story would be what the renovation of NCBA estates accomplishes besides a not very attractive facelift.

  9. Point taken, but they're not all accessible: the LEAD building has the permit on a window in front of a big pit. You're right, but i'm not a full time blogger. I do my best.

  10. have you ever been able to get gary and dorothy to comment on their block. would be interesting to see how they defend all of this.


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