DC's Hidden Gem: National Park Seminary's Renovation

DC's Hidden Gem: National Park Seminary's Renovation

Leah Moss
May 20, 2010

DC is bursting with historic buildings, but National Park Seminary is unique. While most historic properties have been preserved over time, this former girls school comprised of a series of highly stylized structures—Japanese Pagoda, Dutch Windmill, Swiss Chalet to name a few— fell into disrepair years ago, and has only recently been nursed back to life, this time as real estate. Jennifer Sergent gives us the inside scoop.

The original structure, the Ye Forest Inn, was built as a resort in 1892, became a girls finishing school in 1894, and was annexed by the army during World War II to serve as a medical facility. By the end of Vietnam, the sprawling property situated in Silver Spring, Maryland on the edge of Rock Creek Park had largely been abandoned and neglected, and quickly fell into disrepair.

Growing up nearby, I often heard stories of the eerily forgotten property being secretly used for poetry readings, literature classes, and exploration by locals. But the ivy covered structures and statue-filled gardens also experienced vast amounts of vandalism and theft over the years. Art and architectural details were dismantled, auctioned off and/or stolen, elaborate bridges were left to crumble, floors gave out, and graffiti began masking various facades.

Sergent explains that the neglected property was saved when the Alexander Company and the EYA, spurred on by locals, stepped in around 2003 to revive the property and to give it new life as real estate. The project includes a mix of converted condos, apartments, and single family homes, as well as new town homes that are in keeping with the historic feel of the original structures.

Check out the full story at DC By Design.

To learn more about National Park Seminary visit their website.

(Images: 1, 6-10: National Park Seminary: The Alexander Company via DC by Design, 3-5: Jennifer Sergent: DC By Design)

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