The Corner Forum
Saturday, Nov. 30, 2002
Issue #8

Bulldozing the Library "Not Our Plan"

By Marc Borbely

536 13th St. NE

At the Nov. 21 meeting of the Old City Capitol Hill Neighborhood Association, Roslyn Christian, one of the three daughters of Robert Lee Christian, after whom the community library at 1300 H St. NE is named, passed out "Save the R.L. Christian Public Library!!!" flyers.

Ms. Christian said she had heard that there were plans — by the city or by the Atlas Performing Arts Center — to tear down the library, perhaps to create space for a parking garage.

"This community thought enough of our father to name a library in his honor," Ms. Christian said. "He sacrificed the last six years or so of his life for the Near Northeast community. He began something called Northeast Neighborhood House. It was a job-training program for young people. It was also a place where youngsters could come during the summer, classes for adults, etc."

Jane Lang and Paul Sprenger, officers of the board of the nonprofit Atlas Performing Arts Center, assured Ms. Christian they had no desire to destroy the library — in fact, they said, they hoped to see it become a bigger and better library.

"We agree wholeheartedly that it's a wonderful memorial," Mr. Sprenger said. "We would hope that we could work together to build it better. I don't know where the rumor got started that we were gonna bulldoze it, but we're not! That's not our plan."

Derrick Woody, revitalization planner with the D.C. Office of Planning, also said the city has every intention of preserving the library, as development on H Street progresses. He said one possibility would be to create a parking garage near 13th and H, with a new, improved library on the first floor of the garage. §