A house near Barracks Row was unanimously voted into the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites by the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board yesterday for its role as the headquarters of a lesbian feminist group in the early 1970s.
The house at 219 11th St. SE, which was home to the Furies Collective from 1971-73 is the first lesbian-related historic landmark in D.C.
The Furies Collective were a group of radical lesbian feminists who printed a monthly magazine and other publications that helped shape lesbian feminist ideology nationally and globally. The house near Barracks Row served as the home and headquarters for the collective.
The HPRB also recommended the house for national historic recognition in the National Register of Historic Places. Mark Meinke, a local LGBT history advocate who prepared the application said he is confident that the house will make it onto the national register.
“The National Park Service in 2014 launched an LGBTQ heritage initiative and they’re hoping to recognize a lot of queer sites,” he said. “This is one of the sites they’re waiting for because they don’t have any lesbian sites on the national register, so this will add a bit of diversity.”
Meinke, who co-founded the Rainbow Heritage Network last year to advocate for and secure historic recognition for LGBT sites around the country, spent nearly 10 months preparing the 63-page application. In it, Meinke noted that though the collective was short-lived, its contributions to lesbian and feminist thought were lasting.
“In the space of 18 months, the efforts of the collective’s twelve women had invigorated the debate over what lesbians needed to do and what they needed to oppose,” he wrote in the application. “Their arguments for independent self-reliant women had become a norm for many lesbian feminists and even within the wider women’s movement.”
The application also shed light on the Barracks Row area’s role as one of the first gay and lesbian neighborhoods in the District. In the application, Meinke explains how Barracks Row in the late 60s and early 70s was home to some of the city’s only gathering places for gays and lesbians.
Meinke said he isn’t currently working on other historical applications in the area but there are several sites in the area that played a significant role in the the District’s LGBT history.
“The Barracks Row area was an early gay and lesbian neighborhood, so there are a lot of sites around there that would be interesting to nominate,” he said.
Meinke was joined at the preservation board meeting by former Furies member Joan Biren and the home’s current owner Robert Pohl.
Photo via Historic Preservation Review Board/ Mark Meinke