Preservation Review Board Designates Corcoran Building’s Interior as Historic

Landmark status applies to large portions of the 17th Street building’s first and second floors.

April 27, 2015
The D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board decided Thursday to designate most of the interior space of the Corcoran School’s 17th Street building as historic. The decision was in response to an application filed by Save the Corcoran and the D.C. Preservation League to make the gallery’s interior a local landmark
The board based the designation on a proposal drafted by the Historic Preservation Office staff. The proposal was less extensive than the original application filed by Save the Corcoran and the D.C. Preservation League. It excludes the 17th Street building’s basement, auditorium, some gallery spaces and some rooms and offices on the first floor. Most of the second floor was included in the designation.
The university said that although the board designated most of the interior, it will work with the Historic Preservation office as it plans its phased renovation of the building.
The D.C. Preservation League, members of the public and the George Washington University had the opportunity to offer public comments to the board at a meeting last month. The university said it supported maintaining the building’s history and preserving major interior spaces, including the building’s vestibule, atrium, grand stairs, rotunda, Salon Doré and the Clark addition stairs. 
GW asked that the board consider keeping private spaces from the designation to accommodate expanded classroom space and necessary updates to the building’s infrastructure. 
After hearing testimony last month, the board voted to extend its deliberation period and hold a final vote at Thursday’s meeting. 
The university received the 17th Street building as part of the agreements it signed with the Corcoran Gallery of Art last summer and is currently working on a phased renovation plan in the building. It is consolidating programs from the Corcoran’s former Fillmore building, which is being sold to the S&R Foundation, into the 17th Street building. The agreements stipulate that proceeds from the Fillmore property must be used for the Corcoran School’s operational costs or the 17th Street building’s renovations.
The 17th Street building became part of the National Historic Registry in 1992. It was designed by the noted Beaux-Arts architect Ernest Flagg.