Graduate students in the University of Maryland Fall 2005 Historic Preservation Studio documented historic resources and examined the potential for preservation within the residential neighborhood and industrial area bounded by M Street, SW, the Anacostia River, Canal Street/2nd Street, SW, and South Capitol Street, an area the students termed "Old Southwest." The area is experiencing increased development pressure from planned and proposed projects in and around the neighborhood. The DC Preservation League asked the students to produce this study in an effort to understand the historic resources located in the area.
The team identified and documented 21 potential resources within the community. Most are modest, two-story residential structures built between 1892 and 1958. It is, and has historically been, a low-income and working class neighborhood. While economically challenged, it is a vibrant and complex urban community with many qualities of a small town. In addition to documenting resources, the students provide a plan to protect these resources and sustain neighborhood character. The team's recommendations focus on empowering the community and include suggested programs to create awareness among residents of their neighborhood's history, planning and zoning tools to protect the neighborhood, and the designation of much of the residential portion of the neighborhood as a historic district. Each of these steps can moderate change and improve the power of community residents to preserve the elements of their neighborhood they choose as important to them.
Cory Herrala Hillori Schenker