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Neighborhood organizes against home ‘tear-down’

The owner\'s plans for the house at 3823 Morrison St. NW are causing neighbors to protest. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON — Your home is your castle, but what happens when your neighbors hate the plans you have for it?

Robert Holman has done a number of so-called “tear-downs” in D.C. — projects in which a house is bought, the structure razed and a newer, larger property built in its place. Holman plans to do that with his property at 3823 Morrison St. NW, in the Chevy Chase section of D.C. But neighbors are working hard to get him to change his mind.

Over the weekend, a group of several protesters held signs reading “Restore, Don’t Demolish” and collected signatures from passersby. Mary Rowse, an area resident and preservationist, organized the effort.

She flagged down cars as they drove past the home off Connecticut Avenue, asking drivers to sign the petition.

“It’s got ceilings falling in, the plaster’s falling down, but you know that can be fixed,” Rowse says.

Rowse concedes Holman’s plans are legal.

“He has the power to take it down, but is it the right thing to do when 125 people in the area are asking him not to do so?”

A neighbor who didn’t want to be named told WTOP that the neighborhood had roundly voted down a plan to be designated an historic neighborhood in the past and said, “People do not want to be told what they can renovate, how they can renovate, etcetera.”

The neighbor says she is asking Holman to do the renovation and demolition tastefully, but ultimately, the decision is his.

“I’m a firm believer that people’s property is theirs,” she says, adding they can renovate as they wish.

Neighbors Mark and Kim Parr side with preservationists, and stopped to sign Rowse’s petition.

“We’re not looking for guys to come in here and demolish all our houses. That’s not why we’re here,” says Kim Parr.

Despite the crumbling gutters, the rotted porch ceiling and a large crack on the face of the home, Mark Parr said it seemed to him the “bones” of the home appeared to be in pretty good shape.

“It’s a beautiful place! We need this here,” Mark Parr says, adding that the home next door to 3823 Morrison St. is a well-maintained twin.

Robert Holman was contacted for this story, but was not available to speak. Holcomb says he was out of town attending a family funeral when contacted by WTOP this weekend.

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter and WTOP on Facebook.


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