Patrick Foley moved to Michigan Park in 2001, lured by the Northeast DC neighborhood’s safety, quiet and green space.
“It had such a nice feel to it – lots of large trees on the streets – you didn’t feel like you were in a city,” says Foley. “I’m from Brooklyn – this is like living in the country for me!”
That sentiment is rooted in the 19th century, when Catholic institutions settled in and around the new Catholic University of America. “Catholic orders and organizations came in and bought really big pieces of land with the idea of expanding,” says Hayden Wetzel, a Michigan Park resident who’s researched the area’s history.
One of those orders is St. Joseph’s Seminary, built in 1929 by the Catholic sect dedicated to serving freed African Americans. This historic seminary would become a role model for its architecture as well as its advocacy: Saint Joseph’s hired the renowned Boston architectural firm Maginnis & Walsh, which designed the nearby Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Trinity College chapel, to envision its new home. The architects settled on a simple Georgian Revival design with modest red brick and limestone detail, which would inform the neighborhood that grew up around it, Wetzel says.
These homes are set back from the street with wide, manicured lawns and welcoming front porches. It’s within this setting that EYA is building 80 three- and four-bedroom townhomes on four acres behind the seminary.
“Every neighborhood has a certain essence to it, and in Michigan Park, almost every home is red brick and white trim," Evan Goldman, EYA’s executive vice president for acquisitions and development said. "It was clear that if we were to build in Michigan Park, it had to reflect that character.”
The Townhomes at Michigan Park is reaching out to the neighborhood in other ways, primarily by applying to protect the seminary as a historic landmark and transforming its surrounding open space into public parkland and playgrounds.
The area enjoys an enviable reputation as a transportation crossroads, with ready access to major thoroughfares, Metro Rail and bus lines into the city. “You can pretty much get anywhere you need to be by living here,” Foley says. EYA is installing a bikeshare station and new bike lanes along 12th street so cyclists can better navigate the neighborhood. It’s making intersection improvements and installing speed displays to calm traffic as well, and The Townhomes at Michigan Park will include car-sharing spaces.
These days in Michigan Park, young families pushing strollers mingle with old timers who’ve been here since the ’60s. As a result, local Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Emily Lucio says, “there’s a very large concentration of high-quality charter schools.”
“The Catholic community are very good neighbors," Lucio also noted, "It's one of the things that adds to the peacefulness and serenity of the neighborhood is their properties and grounds.”
The renewed presence of St. Joseph’s Seminary no doubt will enhance that attraction. Continue reading the full article here.
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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dcs-michigan-park-an-urban-oasis-of-trees-parks-and-tradition/17428
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