November 19, 2019
Old Dominion Bank Building or the Athenaeum

Historic Landmark Drawing Recognized by Library of Congress and National Park Service

A project documenting the Old Dominion Bank Building (now known as the Athenaeum) in Alexandria, Va., received the Leicester B. Holland Prize from the Library of Congress and the National Park Service (NPS). C.J. Howard, assistant professor in the School of Architecture and Planning, and his research assistant Ryan Gebhart documented the building: sketching, measuring, taking pictures, and producing digital drawings of the building’s existing conditions. 

Historic photo of AthenaeumAs it states on their drawing, the Athenaeum “was always intended to be of civic significance as indicated in the Alexandria Gazette at the time of its inception ‘...will be an ornament to the town, and convenient to our citizens.’ … The building is that of a Tetrastyle Greek temple in form. It is largely intact and has had restorations that have regained the original fluting of the columns and the ‘salmon’ color of the stucco exterior walls. Perhaps due to its continual use in this Alexandria Community, it remains cared for and available as a valuable participant of architectural heritage.”

Howard chose to study the Athenaeum because of its uniqueness “as one of only two prominent Greek Revival Civic buildings in Old Town Alexandria, and also because of its qualities of endurance and versatility in wearing many hats over many years.”

The Athenaeum was built in 1851 and is a unique civic structure and among the finest examples of Greek Revival design in the heart of Old Town Alexandria. The historic site has been a bank, a hospital, an apothecary storehouse, a church, a performance hall, and a museum. The building has only had minor restorations to its structure since it was built 168 years ago. 

“I am very grateful to receive this award, as a validation of work done out of sincere interest and care for this particular piece of architecture, but also because it helps bring further recognition to the value of our country's architectural inheritance,” Howard said.

Howard teaches in the classical architecture and urbanism track of the School of Architecture and Planning. 

He will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a certificate of recognition. Preservation Architect, the online newsletter of the American Institute of Architects’ Historic Resources Committee, will publish the winning drawing. 

The Leicester B. Holland Prize recognizes the best single-sheet, measured drawing of a historic building, site, or structure prepared to the standards of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), or the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). It is an annual competition administered by the Heritage Documentation Programs of the National Park Service. 

All the drawings accepted for the competition will be added to the permanent HABS, HAER, and HALS Collection in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.

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