Foundation for the Preservation of Historic Georgetown
By 1965 it was clear that the Old Georgetown Act of 1950 lacked the teeth necessary to save the Historic District. Historic houses were being demolished, open spaces crowded with new buildings and residential areas invaded by commercial and institutional activities. Further action was needed.
To meet the need, the Foundation was founded in 1965 by J. Noel Macy, and was established as a not-for-profit, Section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, dedicated to preserving and protecting the Historic District of Georgetown which had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The first working committee consisted of Mrs. W. Randolph Burgess (who became the Foundation’s first president), Mrs. Helen I. Coolidge, Mrs. Carolyn Agger Fortas and Neill Phillips, Admiral, US Navy, Retired. Trustees included Dean Acheson, Secretary of State (1949-1953); David E. Finley, Director, National Gallery of Art (1938-1956) and Robert Hale, Member of Congress (1943-1959). The Foundation began working in three general areas: protection of historic structures through purchase, easement acquisition and funding of restoration; protection of residential areas from institutional incursion through vigorous legal action; and preservation of open space through grants and easements.
Map of Georgetown, with dashed lines added to indicate the boundaries of the Old Georgetown historic district as established by Congress in 1950.
(Image credit: Map provided courtesy of the Georgetown Map Project, © 1993 – Outerbridge Horsey, Florence Stone, Merle Thorpe. All rights reserved. Old Georgetown boundary line added with permission.)
- The Foundation has encouraged improvement in the care of two historic cemeteries.
- University expansion into the Georgetown residential areas has been impeded.
- A joint program has been undertaken with the Historic American Building Survey to document the properties on which the Foundation holds easements through large format, rectified photographs and measured drawings to be housed in the Library of Congress in the permanent collection of the Historic American Building Survey.
- The Foundation facilitated the recognition of conservation easements in the District of Columbia. Easements, generously given, now protect 111 properties. The Foundation welcomes inquiries about easement donations.
- The Foundation received The Citizens Association of Georgetown’s Peter Belin Award for 1987, given in recognition for significant contributions to Georgetown.