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Nat’l Trust Honors Capitol Hill Restoration Society

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society last week was awarded the Trustees’ Award for Organizational Excellence by the National Trust for Historic Preservation at the 2004 National Preservation Conference in Louisville, Ky.

The award for organizational excellence is one of 22 awards given out annually. It recognizes a nonprofit organization that has made “sustained and superlative achievements in historic preservation,” according to the National Trust Web site.

“It establishes a seriousness of what we do,” said Rob Nevitt, president of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society. “I think the plaque says it best: ‘The preservation of a vibrant, historic neighborhood’. I think that speaks to it as well as anything.”

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will re-present the award at the Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s members meeting at 7:30 p.m. tonight at St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill.

“The Capitol Hill Restoration Society has been a tremendous leader in preserving Washington, D.C.’s historic resources,” Moe said. “Many of the places that are symbolic of the D.C. experience would not be here today were it not for this dedicated group.”

“I think they saw us as an example of a volunteer organization that really is able to stand tall in the company of developers and other interests and maintain the ideals of the historical character of which we live,” Nevitt said.

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society, which has 900 members, seeks to preserve the area in and around the Capitol Hill historic district. The historic district goes east from the Capitol to 14th Street and from the Southeast Freeway to F Street Northeast. The historic district status means that the Board of Historic Preservation must approve all renovations and construction on any property in the area.

In observance of its 50th anniversary, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society is working on getting a photograph of every house in the historic district.

The group also is finding ways to use the call boxes on the streets, which were once used to notify police and firefighters in the case of an emergency. Some Capitol Hill residents have adopted a call box and use it to acknowledge historical buildings or events in the area.

Nevitt is most proud of the group’s persistence in stopping Boys Town from building housing for troubled youths at Pennsylvania and Potomac avenues SE.

“Going up against Boys Town looked like David and Goliath,” Nevitt said. “It wasn’t just us, but it wouldn’t have happened without our pressure.”

Nevitt said the Capitol Hill Restoration Society is working to preserve a “lifestyle,” not objects.

“I’ve lived here 20 years and I’m always struck by the diversity and variety of the architecture and people,” Nevitt said. “It’s a neighborhood, not just a row of buildings.”

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