Restoration Planned For National Mall's Oldest Remaining Structure

By Cyprien Roy

- Architect Magazine
The neglected Lockkeeper's House on Washington, D.C.'s National Mall will be restored thanks to a $1 million grant from American Express to the Trust for the National Mall. The oldest remaining structure on the Mall will be lifted and moved back 32 feet, further from heavy street traffic. The restoration will include upgrades to energy-efficient electrical, mechanical, plumbing, and HVAC systems and will allow the house to function as an educational space for the 29 million annual visitors to the National Mall.
 
The 178-year-old Lockkeeper's House, located on the corner of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW, was originally occupied by a lockkeeper who kept trade records, collected tolls, and operated the lock gates between 1835 and 1873. The locks were the capital's trading gateway connecting interior states to the city, allowing heavy goods to be transported efficiently in a timely manner. The house served many purposes following the rise of the railways, including stints as a public bathroom and a storage facility. Officially closed to the public in the 1970's, it has since been left battered from years of neglect.
 
"Historic places, like the Lockkeeper's House, help us unlock our rich cultural and commercial past," said American Express Foundation president Timothy J. McClimon in a press release. The American Express Foundation has gifted more than $50 million to preserve historic places around the world.
 
The grant is the latest donation to the two-phased restoration of Constitution Gardens, a site situated between the World War II Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The redesign, developed by New York–based Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers and Berkeley, Calif.–based PWP Landscape Architecture, will also feature a lakeside glass pavilion and a retaining wall.
 
Plaque on outside of Lockkeeper's House, National Mall