Saturday, December 31, 2011

Embassy Protest Yields Results

I am pleased to report that the Republic of the Congo has responded to orders from the District Government and requests by the ANC and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association to remove the concrete covering of the public space in front of the former Toutorsky Mansion. The Embassy felled trees, uprooted shrubs and paved over the building’s front yard.

The Congo recently purchased the Toutorsky Mansion, a local landmark and contributing structure of the 16th Street Historic District, for use as its Embassy. The building is a graceful brick structure built in the 1890s for Justice Henry Brown of the Supreme Court. Later it was a music school and then a Bed and Breakfast. Under DC law, front lawns are city property, but Embassy properties are considered foreign soil and exempt from District law. Knowing this, neighborhood officials, including the ANC, had specifically requested that no changes be made to the historic greensward. The sale was approved by the Board of Zoning Adjustment’s Foreign Missions Department only after the Congo agreed.

DDOT has asked the Embassy to restore the landscaping after removing the concrete surfacing. When you walk past the property you will notice the removal of the concrete, so it is now ready for restoration of the landscaping.

I want to thank my fellow Commissioners, the Dupont Circle Conservancy, and the Dupont Circle Citizens Association for preserving our public space along 16th Street, otherwise known as the Avenue of the Presidents.