If you happened to watch the Georgetown Public Library go up in smoke back on April 30, 2007, you had to assume that the building and its contents were largely lost to the conflagration. There were fears that the library’s historic Peabody Collection—essentially, Georgetown’s civic archives—were a complete loss. (Earlier that day, Eastern Market was also the scene of a destructive fire.) But all was not lost. In fact, the bulk of the library’s historic collections were saved, thanks in large part to the library’s cupola falling to the west instead of to the east and post-fire restoration of damaged documents, books and artifacts.
Ironically, the library was built atop a former reservoir that was once part of the Washington Aqueduct. The wall and trident-ornamented fence that surround the library and Book Hill Park are remnants of the old reservoir. (Too bad firefighters weren’t able to rely on Poseidon to help put out the flames.)