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Tue Sep 14, 2021, 04:19 PM

How the English Basements of Washington, D.C., Came Into Their Own [View all]

Walk through many residential areas of inner Washington, D.C., today, and the architecture gives an impression of enduring grandeur. The city’s elegant Victorian era row houses — some elaborately decorated in historic styles, and others more staid — have a look of deep-rooted solidity. But there’s more beneath the row houses than meets the eye.

Many of these grand-looking houses contain within them a separate unit not always immediately apparent from the sidewalk, one that reveals a different side of the city’s character. It’s a unit that, accessed down steps, has long been the home to the less wealthy or established, to the people who once served the stately houses, or those who are now looking for an affordable foothold in an expensive city: the English Basement.

Row house basements were born first out of structural necessity, according to Christina Wilson, the chief executive officer and founder of Renaissance Development, and a professor of Architectural History and Theory at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

To support the densely-packed, mostly-brick houses, builders had to dig down into the earth and erect subterranean retaining walls. Those foundations were surrounded by a squat space that became its own floor. Typically, no one lived down in that room — then called a cellar, and now known as a basement — at least not comfortably. Instead, the caverns were used as storage space or outfitted with kitchens.

Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-09-14/the-architectural-history-of-d-c-s-english-basements

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Reply How the English Basements of Washington, D.C., Came Into Their Own [View all]
TexasTowelie Sep 14 OP
msongs Sep 14 #1
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