Housing Complex

Buell in, Boasberg out at Historic Preservation Review Board

Long live the chair. (photo courtesy of Patton Boggs)

Long live the chair. (photo courtesy of Patton Boggs)

Jonathan O'Connell is reporting that Historic Preservation Review Board chair Tersh Boasberg, who for the last ten years served as the guardian of D.C.'s architectural heritage, has stepped down pending the expiration of his term on July 21st. Before taking over HPRB, Boasberg chaired the Zoning Commission, and oversaw the rezoning of a huge swath of downtown. Last year, he retold the story with a distinct air of satisfaction. Housing Complex hopes Mr. Boasberg will be around to expound on matters of historical significance for many more years to come.

The new chair, Catherine Buell, is an attorney with Patton Boggs, where she counsels investors in real estate and private equity funds in the U.S., South America, and Europe. She also lives–or at least owns–a nice little house on Pleasant Street in Anacostia, which she purchased for $300,000 in 2007. Having graduated from Spelman College in 2001, she can't be older than her mid-30s, and according to Facebook, is a fan of Mariah Carey.

UPDATE, Thursday 11:00 a.m. - An overlooked fact in the original post: Buell is in fact the HPRB's first female chair! Housing Complex thinks that's pretty awesome.

CORRECTION, June 14: Buell once owned the house at 1220 Pleasant Street, but sold it in May, which hadn't been registered in property records as of the time of this posting. She actually lives at 1226 Pleasant Street, which she bought in 2005.

  • Just sayin’

    Ok I'm trying to say this delicately but no way around it. Old white guy steps down and he's a wise old sage and knowledgable steward of DC's historic property. Young black woman steps up and she's a carpet bagging whipper snapper who just tweets on Facebook. This must be like McCain saying Barack Obama was a Washington insider. DC's a majority black city --lets give praise to the fact that what appears to be a talented young African American woman is taking the reins - instead of lamenting the past.

  • Congrats!

    As an older preservationist i'm not really sure that Buell's age is really an issue. I've met her at several events and have always been impressed with her knowledge and passion for preservation and the city. It takes the zeal of the young people to keep the grand legacies of our history alive. Catherine is an excellent choice and one of the best appointees that Fenty has made to the board. I would hate to see a person of such potential be dragged through the mud before she has even had a fair chance to assume the resposibilities which she has very wisely been given.

  • Lydia DePillis

    Hi guys,

    I do understand how the post could be read that way, but please rest assured that I meant no slight to Ms. Buell by rounding up some of the available public data. If Mr. Boasberg had a Facebook profile, I'd quote from that too.



  • J. Marcus

    This is great news! The first female chair of HPRB. Good for her!

  • Sustainable Preservationist

    The tone of this article seems to miss the point about what’s really going on here. It’s about time HPRB got some new blood. Many people feel that the Board’s decision in the Third Church of Science case raised some serious questions about the city’s power over historic properties. As I understand it, Ms. Buell is a proponent of adaptive reuse of buildings. The Board is going to have to determine which of the thousands of modern style buildings constructed in the 1950s and 1960s are worth saving. To complicate matters more, any modern day urban planners also recognize the importance of promoting sustainable development, which generally does not encourage the demolition of an existing building for a new building. It will be very interesting to see how the Board tackles its new challenges – and I am very encouraged that at least the Chair is friendly to the sustainable growth community.

  • Lydia DePillis

    Sustainable Preservationist,

    Thanks for sharing that context. I'll be sitting down with Ms. Buell next week, so hopefully we will get a better sense of her philosophy then.


  • robynicolwalker

    I am so excited to see The District allowing new blood with fresh ideas to shake things up and give a new outlook. Not only is Buell dedicated to her "nice little house on Pleasant Street in Anacostia" she is passionate about the community and the restoration of this beautiful and historic neighborhood. I am eager to sit back and watch her take this position by storm!

  • VORobertson

    I am happy to know that you don't have to be "historic" to be involved is historic preservation!

  • Donna M

    I just wanted to take moment to share some of the accomplishments about this young lady whom I have known since she was in high school with my daughter. Besides are affinity for Mariah Carey I have watched her grow by leaps and bounds since graduating and her matriculation at the prestigious Spellman College, in Atlanta, GA.

    Catherine started in preservation world with her involvement in the Historic Anacostia Block Association’s (HABA) efforts to lobby the District to release funding for the Historic Homeowner Grants Program. The funds were initially allocated as grants to low-to-moderate income homeowners for exterior repairs, rehabilitation, and structural work on historic properties. The program was created in 2006, however the funds we're released until 2008. As a Board member, Buell was key to the initial success of the program. She helped the staff worked through some of the tax issues that threatened to destroy the program and remedy serious contractor dispute issues that arose early on. As a result of HABA’s activism, the District allocated over $1.2 million in grant funding to homeowners in Historic Anacostia – giving the neglected historic district a much needed facelift.

    Knowing she will continue to display this level of activism and commitment look out Anacosita, Buell is on the block!

  • Aeva Doomes

    Hooray for Anacostia! Finally a cheerleader for a beautiful yet blighted neighborhood!

    Congrats and cheers for a job that assuredly will be well done.

    Ms. Buell does not have to be an avid fan of "historic" music to get the job done, and as for referencing her exact address and providing a google link... that was poor taste. She is a "homeowner in historic Anacostia" and that description would have been sufficient