A long while back, GM occasionally highlighted some examples of people misapplying the name Georgetown to a variety places and things far beyond the actual boundaries of Georgetown. He called it Greater Georgetown. However, after a few posts, GM gave it a rest. Pointing out that people lie about where an apartment is on Craigslist is just not that interesting.
However, GM decided to dust off the feature after seeing an article in the Post this weekend. Under the headline “Georgetown’s Unapologetically Modern House” Nancy McKeon writes about a stunning modern home. You may recognize it, that is, if you go to Burleith much:
McKeon tries to come clean in the first paragraph of her article, but can’t quite admit that this home isn’t really in Georgetown:
A vacant lot is hard to come by in Georgetown, but Fred Bahrami found one, right on Georgetown’s border with Burleith. An unapologetically modern house is also hard to find in Georgetown, so Bahrami built one.
This house is at 36th and R. It is squarely in the heart of Burleith, not “right on Georgetown’s border.” It’s one thing to be a little sloppy about where one neighborhood starts and another ends, but the whole “hook” of this article is based on the idea that this house’s existence is newsworthy specifically because it’s in Georgetown. Which it isn’t. (For a quick primer on Georgetown’s borders, read this).
Burleith is a great neighborhood, but it was never within the boundaries of the city of Georgetown. Moreover, its development history is quite different than Georgetown. It was mostly empty lots until the 1920s when the developer Shannon & Luchs started to build homes there.
In fact, at the time that these first homes were being built, the new Burleithians would probably be horrified to have their neighborhood mistaken for Georgetown. At the time, Georgetown was a pretty ramshackle place with pockets of deep poverty.
The reason GM even bothers to highlight this article is that too often journalists throw in inaccurate Georgetown references simply because it helps drive some narrative they’ve concocted. In this case, it’s that Georgetown doesn’t have many modern homes or empty lots. Other times journalists try to say something about the juxtaposition of the student body of the Duke Ellington School with the surrounding neighborhood by saying the school is in Georgetown. It’s not.
In this case, rather than framing this as a “oh-my-god-can-you-believe-they-built-this-in-Georgetown,” the article would be a lot more interesting if they explored the fact that the home is totally and completely out of proportion with the rest of Burleith. No need make up a false Georgetown connection to make that an interesting discussion.