Dent Place's Derelict House Razed

The bulldozer arrives at 3324 Dent Place Nov. 12.
Sonya Bernhardt
The bulldozer arrives at 3324 Dent Place Nov. 12.

This morning, the long, slow death of the ruined house at 3324 Dent Place, NW, was brought to an end.

A bulldozer moved onto the property, owned by Deyi Awadallah of Falls Church, Va., to finish off the 19th-century wooden frame house.

In Georgetown, where such a move is extremely rare, the neighbors on Dent Place are no doubt pleased, as the structure was seen as a site for vermin and an eyesore. Even, the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission approved a raze permit in October 2012.

Last year, the ANC chair Ron Lewis said that such an approval to raze a structure was no something to be taken lightly. Today, when Lewis learned of the razing, he said, the owner and others had tried to save it but “we could not even save the material.”

A spokesperson for the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs – which has oversight of such a demolition – told the Georgetowner Nov. 12 that due process had been followed and that the razing had been on the schedule.

After being declared vacant, the dilapidated house was struck by a falling tree in August 2011 during Hurricane Irene, crushing its second floor. According to many, including the ANC’s Lewis, that was its “deathblow.”

One of the property’s highlights is that it was owned by Yarrow Mamout, a freed slave in Georgetown. Mamout died in 1823 before the current house was built. A beloved portrait of Mamout hangs in the Peabody Room of the Georgetown Public Library, not far from Dent Place.

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Nov 13, 2013 at 7:42 PM Jim Johnston

Yarrow wasn't just a freed slave. He was a man who came from Africa on one of those terrible slave ships. And he didn't merely get out of slavery, he prospered. (Saying he was "freed" sounds like it was something that Africans needed to earn). He saved enough money to buy this lot in Georgetown. That was highly unusual. He learned the rules in America, buying bank stock and loaning money to white merchants in Georgetown. He was a black Ben Hur in going from slavery to status. He was so prominent that no less an artist than the great Charles Willson Peale painted his portrait -- for free. And four generations later, one of his family went to Harvard. There was no reason to save this building, which was put on the property after he died. There was reason to let archaeologists onto the property before this happened to see how he lived, but that wasn't done. Joni Mitchell warned about such things in her song, Big Yellow Taxi. "Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got till it's gone."

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