January 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Lesbian ‘Furies’ house approved as D.C. historic landmark
Furies, gay news, Washington Blade

This house at 219 11th St., S.E., served as the operational center of the lesbian feminist separatist collective, The Furies. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously on Thursday to designate a row house on Capitol Hill used in the early 1970s as headquarters for a lesbian feminist group called the Furies Collective as a historic landmark on the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites.

The seven-member board approved the historic designation for the Furies house in a resolution that also calls for forwarding the nomination of the house to the National Park Service for consideration of listing it on the National Register of Historic Places.

“The National Register is actually eager to have LGBTQ sites, and this is one they’re waiting for,” said LGBT history advocate Mark Meinke, who gave a presentation on behalf of the Furies house before the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board on Thursday before the vote.

“So we don’t expect any problems in its approval,” said Meinke, in referring to the National Park Service’s consideration of the Furies house for the National Register of Historic Places.

Meinke and former Furies member Joan Biren, who attended Thursday’s preservation board meeting, called the board’s action an important development in preserving the history of all aspects of the LGBT community.

Meinke noted that the Furies house becomes the first lesbian-related location designated as a D.C. historic landmark and would become the first national lesbian-related historic landmark if approved for the National Register of Historic Places.

“The house at 219 11th Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. became the operational center of the lesbian feminist separatist collective, The Furies, between late 1971 and the autumn of 1973 which created and led the debate over lesbians’ place in society,” Meinke wrote in a 63-page nominating application for the house.

He submitted the nomination last fall on behalf of the Rainbow Heritage Network, a national organization he co-founded one year ago to help secure recognition and preservation of LGBT historic sites nationwide.

Also speaking before the D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board in support of the Furies house nomination was Robert Pohl, the current owner of the house, who said he was delighted when he discovered his house had historic ties to the Furies Collective.

Tisha Allen, an official with the D.C. Preservation League, told the board at Thursday’s meeting that her organization enthusiastically supports the Furies house nomination for the D.C. historic designation.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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