Franck & Lohsen Architects

DC Public Library at Petworth

Washington, DC

Built in the 1930s and inspired by the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg, Virginia, this DC public library underwent a major interior and exterior renovation. This restoration succeeded in retaining historic features while incorporating classical details that maximized the space available without having to expand upon the original footprint.

Previously unused details from the original design were incorporated in the restoration of the library. Designed to have a cupola as a crowning touch, this important element was added as part of the comprehensive restoration effort. In addition to the window & door restoration, masonry tuck-pointing, cornice repair & portico restoration, as well as general site and landscaping improvements, this Georgian-Revival building received discretely designed new building systems and current library technologies that blend seamlessly into the historic configuration. 

New interior features complimenting the historic fabric include the reconfigured and restored entry lobby, which boasts original millwork stripped of decades of paint and restored to mint condition. A new terrazzo floor was installed that captures part of L’Enfant’s plan in the vicinity of this neighborhood library. Custom-designed furniture, based in part on the original furniture, was produced for the library. Historic colors by Farrow & Ball added warmth and patina, and the colors also compliment the refinished bookcases and custom furniture. Checkerboard cork flooring was added for sound retention and for a more youthful appearance, in what otherwise is a very serious building.

Gordon Beall