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Is this the end of it? 

For several years, we’ve been hearing about the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, located at 16th and I Streets downtown. The congregation has wanted to raze its Brutalist building because it was too costly to maintain. Preservationists said no way.

Well, turns out, there was a way all along—-It was a just a long, torturous path, involving the city’s preservation board, federal judges, numerous bureaucrats, and the usual smattering of up-in-arms allegations. 

The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher has been following the story for an eternity. His latest report: “D.C. Lets Church Tear Down Brutalist Atrocity.”

Harriet Tregoning, the District’s planning director, has ruled that the District must grant the congregation a demolition permit.  

From the tone of his latest post, it seems that Fisher is pretty damn sick of this tale. He calls the church “faceless” and “spiritually deadening,”  and preservationists “arrogant elite who think they know better [for the city than its own residents].” Here’s his summary of the ruling:

Tregoning concludes that the Third Church’s building, designed in a burst of 1960s passion for the avant-garde, was an “experiment” that “failed badly.”

The building, she says, needs expensive repairs, is too often too hot or too cold, and wouldn’t lend itself to reuse with a different function. Meanwhile, Tregoning concludes, the church is losing money and “faces a dire financial situation likely to cause its demise within eight years or less”—even before taking on the massive costs of the much-needed repairs and improvements.

The solution, Tregoning finds, is the one the church itself has proposed: Tear down the church and let a developer put up an office building in its place. The church has made a tentative deal along those lines, under which the Christian Scientists would get a new church building elsewhere.



Photo by Rodeomilano