FMW Renovation


[ church bells ] As we traveled, we came near a very great
hill, called Pendle Hill, and I was moved by the Lord to go up to the top of it,
which I did with difficulty. It was so very steep and high. 362 years have passed since George Fox’s
famous ascent but a steep hill is still a source of difficulty
and opportunity for Friends. Which is by way of getting around to the subject
of Friends Meeting of Washington and our proposed renovation. The first thing to mention
is that we are built on a hill. On the side of a hill. How did we get up here,
and what should we do about it? Let’s start with a little history. As soon as Washington was founded,
Quakers began to meet here. Pierre L’Enfant drew up
the city plan in 1791. You’ll notice that he stopped drawing when
he got to the foot of the bluff in the northwest. No one would try to build up there
for more than a century. Congress arrived in 1800. Ten years later, the population had grown
to 9,000, and Friends built a brick Meeting House at the imaginary corner of future 18th and
I Streets, NW, four blocks from the White House. By mid-century, Washington had grown
to about 40,000 residents. Pennsylvania Avenue was still paved with mud,
and Constitution Avenue was paved with water. The Smithsonian Castle still had
that new castle smell. In 1858, Washingtonian’s were still using L’Enfant’s
map, and real buildings had filled it in a little The Potomac was still very wide. The new Mall stopped at the Washington Monument,
which still needed a little work. Constitution Avenue was still wet. The I Street Meeting was one of these buildings. The Meeting followed the Hicksites
in the Schism of 1827. Orthodox Friends did not have an organized
meeting in Washington until after the Civil War. A few blocks from the White House, Connecticut
Avenue was now real enough that somebody had built a little bridge over the creek. Dupont Circle was still imaginary. Back then, if you said you had a house on P Street . . . you really did have a house ON P Street. Florida Avenue was still
just the edge of town. Our future Meeting site belonged
to Professor Charles Jewitt, Librarian of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1869, Washingtonians were still
using L’Enfant’s map, and the real city — that’s the shaded areas —
now reached as far as DuPont Circle. Even in 1892, the Whitehouse
was still beachfront property and the railroad station
was right in the middle of the Mall. But at the end of the century, Rand McNally’s map
showed that Florida Avenue was a real street, and our neighborhood
had begun to fill in, though there were still gaps
in Decatur Place and S Streets, where our Meeting House
would someday stand. In 1903, the new Washington Heights
development was mostly vacant One big empty lot took up most of our block Three years later, noted architect Ogden Codman
filled in one corner with the Codman-Davis House, which is now the residence
of the Thai Ambassador. That same year, Orthodox Friends, who had
been meeting in various places, found a vacant lot at 13th and Irving Streets NW and built
themselves a Meeting House, a building which still stands there today. By 1919, our hillside was mostly settled but our block was still mostly empty. In 1923, Oliver Ricketson, an archeologist
with the Carnegie Institution, bought part of the block and built a large house In 1930, he bought the lot next door
and added a two-car garage. Meanwhile, the Eye Street Friends Meeting
and the Irving Street Meeting had been talking about trying to heal our century-old schism
by creating a new cooperative Meeting. Although neither Meeting could find unity
to support this idea, they both released their members to proceed independently After that, things moved rapidly. Time was saved by using the same architect,
the same stone quarry, and much the same plans as the Westtown School Meeting House,
built the previous year. Possible sites were surveyed by First Lady
Lou Henry Hoover and Mary Vaux Walcott, who raised $45,000 to purchase
the Florida Avenue property. Lucy M Wilbur Foster of Rhode Island
donated $75,000 to build the Meeting House. The decision to move forward was made in May.
The new Meeting was incorporated in June. Construction bids were solicited Ground was broken in July, and the first Meeting
for Worship in our new Meeting House was held on January 4th, 1931. In the early days, the Meeting Room
was filled to capacity The I Street Meeting House was sold 7 years
later, but the Irving Street Meeting continued on, selling its building in 1947 and finally
merging with the College Park Meeting to form the Adephi Meeting in 1956. Twenty years after the Meeting was built,
our neighborhood had filled in, and the first wave of baby boomers
was rolling into our First Day School By 1961, we would have 14 classes,
30 teachers, and 232 children. The Meeting’s first response, in 1950,
was to expand the Meeting House, adding Decatur Place Room,
Terrace Room, and the Library. Here’s what the Meeting looked like
without those rooms. And here’s what it looks like today. In 1970, we added more space by joining our
property to the property next door, with its big, old house and its two-car garage. We decided not to call it The Two-car Garage,
so now it’s Carriage House. With the purchase of Quaker House,
we had the FMW campus you see today. Quaker House was purchased partly for classroom
space and partly as a social services center, initially called Friends Center. Today, five non-profit organizations have
offices there. So . . . what were we talking about? Oh, yes The Renovation! And our hillside location. Being on a hillside can cause problems. Accessibility issues. Circulation and traffic issues. And various water issues. Accessibility That’s really the main point of the project. When it was built in 1930, the Meeting
House had no wheelchair accessibility. When we added the 1950 addition,
the new Terrace Room was accessible — — at least from theTerrace. Then, in 1956, we took a big step forward by ramping up
to the north door of the Meeting Room. That ramp, renovated in 1996, makes the Meeting
House upper level somewhat accessible. The ground floor of all the buildings and the
back garden were all inaccessible until last year, when we added a small ramp to
the west door of Quaker House, making the west ground floor offices accessible. Beyond that, we’ve been talking
about accessibility for many years Our discernment has involved many architects many reports and studies many committees many Friends many years and many, many plans. In 2008 the Property Committee suggested that
we narrow the focus of our renovation discussions, and just move forward to build
a new welcoming entrance and an elevator in the space between our two buildings. The Meeting said “Yes!” “Do that!” That turned out to be a little more
complicated than it sounds. It’s not enough just to get from the
ground level to the upper level. You have to be able to get
into the building in the first place. Then, once you get off the elevator,
you have to able to get around. That’s a problem, because our buildings
are built on many levels and are not connected together, and they have poor internal connections. Here’s question for you — How many sets of stairs does our Meeting have? You may not notice it, but many of our doors
have a single step up — — enough to block a wheelchair. Here’s one we fixed. Here’s another ramp, but this one is too
steep for a wheelchair. But we won’t count those as stairs We’ll start with the places
that have two steps or three or four or five or six or too many. That’s a total of thirty sets of stairs. You may have noticed that many
of those stairs are outdoors. And that’s a problem, because we often have
events that use our wonderful garden space, but it’s almost entirely inaccessible. From the near corner of the back garden to
the far corner is a 14-foot climb — — the equivalent of 25 steps. And our back garden isn’t really
connected to the Meeting House When the Meeting House was built,
we didn’t have a back garden. This concrete trench was our back yard. And we never made the connection. We still just climb a couple of stairs from
the Assembly Room to the trench, and then a couple more steps
to get to the yard next door. The Carriage House door is in another trench. The many levels continue inside the buildings. Quaker House and Carriage House
are especially difficult. Here are the upper and lower levels
of those buildings. The different colors you see here
represent different levels, which prevent wheelchairs from
moving from one area to another. But Quaker House has another problem. It was built as a private house with a two-car
garage It was never designed to be a public space
and so it has almost no internal connections To get from this room to that room, you often
have to go through somebody’s office, or a room where a meeting may be taking place,
or just out one door, up the street, and in another door. This is hard on our tenants,
but impossible for anyone in a wheelchair. This plan shows the ground
floor hallways of our buildings, highlighting the lack of connections. Even for those who can climb stairs,
accessibility is a huge problem Many Meeting Friends have never seen
many of the rooms in our buildings If you want to tour the buildings now,
you’ll need good shoes, a guide, and a full set of keys. In 2012 the Meeting decided to go forward
with a project to address these problems by building an elevator lobby,
connecting our indoor spaces together, and providing a level and accessible
back garden and related improvements, at a cost of nearly $2 million. We signed a design contract
with an architecture and engineering firm, and design and fundraising work
is now moving forward. Here’s our plan — We’ll build a nice stone tower
with an elevator in it. We’ll build an elevator lobby with a new,
welcoming and accessible front entrance that will be the main entrance
for all our buildings. We’ll connect that lobby to the Meeting
House hallways on both levels. The Meeting Office will have a door
into the Lobby for welcoming and security. And we’ll build new corridors along the
whole length of Carriage House and Quaker House, connecting all the spaces together,
with ramps in the corridors to accommodate the different levels. Once you are in the new connecting lobby,
there are 19 different doors or hallways that you can use to exit from this space. That’s a lot of connecting. Finally, we’ll dig the back garden down
4 or 5 feet to create a level terrace and patios, wheelchair accessible from the lobby,
or from Carriage House, or from the Assembly Room. A small ramp and landing will make the existing
front door, and the Decatur Place room wheelchair accessible. Three doors will fully connect the Assembly Room
space to the new Assembly Room Terrace. Our Meeting Room can host meetings, weddings,
and other events for over 350 people, but our Assembly Room can handle less than a
third of that for wedding dinners and similar events. The new Assembly Room Terrace
space can accommodate an event tent that can more than
double that available space. The Quaker House Living Room will
have its own accessible terrace, and a large, new storage room
will be constructed under that terrace, so we will no longer have to store tables
and chairs in our First Day School spaces. Here’s a plan that shows the upper level
of our buildings and grounds. On this level, the hallways are
even more disconnected. The new lobby and corridors will make
this whole level into one accessible space. The Quaker House garden,
which is now a valley, will be filled in, creating another level
and accessible terrace space. A new stairway will lead down from the
Quaker House Terrace to the lower level. There is also room for an accessible
pathway along the north wall, connecting the Meeting Room north door
and the east garden space. This reconfiguration of the
back garden will eliminate ten existing sets of stairs and make almost
the entire garden wheelchair accessible. Our architects have provided us with a model
of the new addition, to help us visualize it. Architects used to build models by hand
out of cardboard, balsa wood, glue, and other stuff from the craft store. But now they work with virtual models built
in computer space out of electronic parts. And that’s what we’re
going to look at now. We can turn the model this way and that
and look at it from all sides We can even walk in through the imaginary
front door and look around inside. Remember, this is just a rough model,
so don’t take the details too seriously The Meeting House isn’t really,
made out of purple bricks and we’re not planning to replace
Decatur Place with Astroturf. This is the new front entrance
in the space between our buildings. Just for comparison, here’s what
that space looks like now. In front of the new elevator tower
on the left is an accessible ramp and space for plants or a tree. Straight ahead is the new entrance lobby,
with the garden in the background. The dutch door on the right opens into the
Meeting Office for welcoming and security. The second door is a hallway
that leads to the Assembly Room and other ground floor
Meeting House spaces. The glass doors open out to
the new Assembly Room Terrace, with the Assembly Room doors
and the kitchen door on the right. The bluestone floor of the Lobby
matches the bluestone terrace outside That gives a sort of feeling that the garden
and the Lobby are all one connected space. These stairs, and the elevator on the left
lead up to the Meeting Room, the Parlor, the Quaker House Living Room, the Quaker
House Terrace, and other upper-level spaces. Down this hallway are all the ground floor
Carriage House and Quaker House spaces. The first door on the left opens into the
Carriage House, with matching doors on the right,
leading out onto the patio. The second door leads to an accessible
bathroom, while the hallway on the left leads to the Quaker House main stairs
and street door and the central office spaces. These doors on the right open
into the large new storage room under the new Quaker House patio,
while the hallway on the left will take you to the ground floor offices
on the west end of Quaker House. Backtracking, we’ll return to the Carriage
House door leading out onto the Terrace. Next to the kitchen door on the right,
is a gate leading to a trash storage alcove. The retaining wall in the back will actually
be a foot or two shorter than you see it here and you’ll see a lot more greenery
and a lot less wall. The trees above the wall will be the existing
hollies and the oak tree on the left. The stairway on the left leads up onto the
new Quaker House patio. The doorway, which will be a little
more attractive than you see here. opens into the new storage space for
access to gardening and play equipment. Here’s the back view of the new lobby. Three new doors lead into the Assembly Room. We’ll duck inside for a moment to see the view
of the Terrace from the Assembly Room doors. Back out on the Terrace,
we can return to the lobby. Going up the stairs to
the Meeting Room level, you will see a panoramic
view of the garden spaces. This hallway will have a double door
into the Parlor on the right, the Meeting Room on the left,
and the east garden, straight ahead. The interior window belongs to the Parlor. In order to connect the new entrance
lobby to the Meeting Room, we will have to create a hallway
at the north end of the Parlor. The sliding pocket doors that now
separate the Parlor from the Library, will be moved to connect
the Parlor to the new Hall. The remaining Parlor space will
be combined with the Library to provide a new and larger Parlor. The view of the hall through the Parlor
door will look something like this. Turning right from the stairs, you will see
a lovely view of the new Potomac Bay, if we don’t build this
before global warming sets in. Down this corridor, you see the top of the
elevator on the left, and beyond that, the Carriage House roof and dormers. The middle dormer will be a door
into the Carriage House office spaces. Doors connect the Carriage House Terrace on the left
to the new Quaker House Terrace on the right. As we arrive at Quaker House, the corridor
opens out into a taller and wider gathering space. The French doors on the left open into
the top of the main Quaker House stairs. The second set of French doors opens into
the Quaker House Living Room. Directly opposite those doors,
on the right, are glass doors leading out onto the new
Quaker House Terrace. The door at the end of this space opens into the
Quaker House west offices, kitchenette, and bathroom. The trees you see here represent the existing
trees on the north side of this space. This terrace will be mostly level, but rises
a few feet as it approaches the northwest corner. There is room for an accessible
path along the back leading to the Meeting Room
north door and the East Garden. From above, you can see that one of the
Meeting House dormers on the left will be converted into a door, providing
maintenance access to the new green roof. This green roof, along with the regraded
and leveled back garden spaces, will allow us to meet the District’s
new storm water management rules. That will reduce our contribution
to the runoff that causes the combined sewer system overflow into the
Potomac River during major storm events. The re-grading and other measures should also
eliminate the water infiltration that now bubbles up along the west wall of the Meeting
House kitchen during extended rains. Trench drains and a new 15-inch drainage line
will handle the remaining runoff from the back garden
and from the Costa Rican Embassy. Here, again, you can see how the second
set of patio doors connects the existing Carriage House deck
with the new Terrace and stairs. Our walkthrough ends with a trip down
the new stairs to the lower Terrace. What about the environmental impact
of the renovation? In addition to the storm water
management improvements, the renovation will bring
another important change. We will be using efficient, zoned heat pumps
throughout Quaker House and Carriage House, and in the new addition. These replace the old boiler and 30 radiators,
that have required us to heat, and sometimes overheat, the entire building
space, 24-7, whether it was occupied or not. A few years ago, we burned more than $8,000
worth of gas in just one winter to heat mostly empty spaces
in Quaker House and Carriage House. With the new system, 18 local thermostats
will let us heat and cool occupied spaces as needed. In addition, the new corridor and lobby will cut
heat loss through the uninsulated walls of Quaker House and Carriage House,
reducing energy use in those spaces. We see an important environmental
gain in the way in which the changes will make it possible for our buildings and grounds
to be used by more people, more often. We hope that the renovation will help
us continue in the direction of making our spaces available for use by non-profit organizations
and other members of our community, That outreach will help generate the revenue we need
to renovate and properly maintain these spaces. We hope that you join us in looking forward
to these changes and we also hope that you will consider a contribution to the
Capital Campaign to make this all possible.

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