Preservationists Move to Have Corcoran Declared Local Architectural Landmark

Admirers of the building that houses Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art filed a 68-page nomination with the D.C. Preservation League on Monday to have the structure declared a local architectural landmark, the Washington Post reports. The filing is the latest phase in a battle between architectural preservationists and the gallery’s board of trustees, who have been openly discussing relocating to another site since June in response to lagging fundraising and a budget deficit of $7 million.

The news comes a month after an activist group handed the Corcoran’s board a petition with 3,200-signatures arguing against a relocation. In their minds, having the Corcoran declared a local architectural landmark would scare off potential buyers, who wouldn’t be interested in picking up a piece of real estate that they would be forbidden to alter. This, in turn, would potentially affect the market value of the building, ultimately dissuading the board from selling it.

A surprisingly small number of building exteriors in Washington have been made into local architectural landmarks, and an even smaller number of building interiors have been set aside. (Those lucking interiors include Eastern Market, the Warner Theatre and the Chevy Chase Arcade.) According to the Post, having the Corcoran’s interior declared a distinct landmark would be based on gallery’s association with “events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history,” and the gallery’s skillful, function-oriented design.

— Reid Singer