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Mayor, wife eye LeDroit landmark

(Published October 7, 2002)

LeDroit Park neighbors say Mayor Anthony A. Williams and his wife have set their sights on making the historic house formerly belonging to educator Anna J. Cooper their home.

The house, which has fallen steadily into disrepair since Cooper’s death in 1964, is assessed at $219,920 in city tax records. Despite the vacant structure’s deteriorated condition, the property’s assessed value recently increased by about 9 percent – perhaps reflecting the onset of neighborhood gentrification.

City tax records say the house, located in the LeDroit Park Historic District at 201 T St. NW, is currently owned by the H. Stanley Opportunity School. The school lists a post office box as its mailing address and has no telephone listed in the District.

The mayor has faced criticism since taking office for failing to follow through on his 1998 campaign pledge to purchase a home in the District if voters elected him. Initially, the mayor responded to critics by saying he lacked the time to go house-hunting. The mayor and his wife, Diane, currently rent an apartment in Foggy Bottom.

In a recently published report, Mayor Williams referred to "a very special historic house" in LeDroit Park that he and his wife are trying to purchase "with traditional market-rate financing." But he declined to specify the home site. Neighborhood residents say the mayor revealed his desire to buy the Cooper house during a summer walk through the historic area.

The Cooper house was part of the original LeDroit Park subdivision designed by James McGill and constructed between 1873 and 1877, according to information on the National Park Service’s Web site. McGill houses were designed in the tradition of country houses with stylistic variations of Italian villas or Gothic cottages. The 4,634-square-foot Cooper house features front and side porches and a sunroom. –Kathryn Sinzinger

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator