Debate continues over D.C. church demolition

(WJLA) - Being torn down piece by piece is this historic church and well-known landmark on the corner of 16th and I Streets in Northwest Washington, which sits just one block from the White House.

For the last decade, members and leaders of the Third Church of Christ Scientist have fought to tear down their church and make room for a newer, more affordable sanctuary that will sit on top of commercial office and retail space.

But preservationists objected, and for years, this demolition has been blocked in court. However, in late February, developers finally got the go-ahead to move forward with it.

And it isn’t just the preservationists who object, but nearby building owners who say that they had been promised this site would never be torn down and replaced by a taller building.

Developers have reportedly now agreed to keep the height closer in line with that of the original building. Built in the 1960’s, the church’s geometrically-placed, three-foot-wide concrete walls have elicited opinions on all sides.

The on-site construction manager appeared weary of all the controversy, and firmly closed the gate when we asked him for his thoughts.

But as a Bible verse from Jeremiah continues to hang until more concrete pours down, this building seems destined for even more debate about the future – and the past – of buildings in downtown D.C.