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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Fall 2004 arrow District of Columbia: Redevelopment of the Armed Forces Retirement Home-Washington
District of Columbia: Redevelopment of the Armed Forces Retirement Home-Washington

Agency: Armed Forces Retirement Home
On the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, DC, stands the place where Abraham Lincoln wrote the final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War. The house, originally called the Soldiers’ Home and nicknamed “the summer White House,” is where Lincoln and several other U.S. Presidents escaped the humidity of downtown Washington, DC, while in office.

That house and many neighboring National Register-listed buildings comprise the U.S Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Historic Landmark District. It—and the peaceful surroundings provided for the veterans who live there—may be affected by a plan to redevelop a part of the site to generate revenue.

The Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH), an independent Federal agency, has initiated a master planning process for the redevelopment of part of its Washington, D.C., campus. Originally known as the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Retirement Home, the property was renamed by Congress in 2001 as the Armed Forces Retirement Home-Washington, and still serves as a retirement home for veterans.

Anderson Cottage, Washington, DC

 

 

Anderson Cottage, Washington, DC
(photo: American Forces Press Service)

 


The first property on the site was the 1843 home of George W. Riggs, the founder of a local bank company that still operates today. In 1851, the Federal Government bought Rigg’s home and surrounding farmland to establish the Old Soldiers’ Home. The structure is on the National Register and is a National Monument, and is where Abraham Lincoln wrote the final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

In addition, the Old Soldiers’ Home and another building served as “the summer White House” for Lincoln and other Presidents (Chester Arthur, Rutherford B. Hayes, and James Buchanan), and stand within the U.S Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Historic Landmark (NHL) District and D.C. Historic Landmark District.

While the redevelopment plan would afford AFRH an opportunity to supplement its services with revenue from its physical resources, the plan has the potential to affect National Register-listed resources like those above—either through property ground leasing or direct transfers.

In July 2004, AFRH conducted a site tour and meeting to present its redevelopment proposals and establish coordination for the Section 106 process. In attendance were representatives from the ACHP, National Park Service, National Capitol Planning Commission, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Washington, DC, State Historic Preservation Officer.

In September 2004, AFRH held a meeting for the public on its redevelopment plans. Later that month, it sent a draft Programmatic Agreement to the consulting parties on the treatment of historic properties under its redevelopment proposals.

As negotiations on the agreement get underway, the ACHP recognizes that the agreement must permit AFRH to seek ways to supplement its budget with much-needed revenue, while protecting those resources of national and local significance.

Any new-use options for the site hopefully will be compatible with its unique historic resources and provide the resident veterans with the respect and honor they deserve.

Staff contact: Hector Abreu Cintron

Posted December 17, 2004

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