This is a Shame

GM noticed this last month, but forgot about it until he walked by it again last weekend: But an unfortunate things has occurred to an historic M St. building. It’s been painted yellow.

It’s the building in the center of the photo. It is occupied by L’Occitane. Until last month the facade was completely unpainted brick, as it has been presumably since it was built in the 19th century. But now, perhaps to match the French soap maker’s brand, it has been painted a bright goldenrod color.

Despite all the incredibly pervasive historical protection rules that govern Georgetown, there are no rules about paint color, per se. If you are proposing some larger change, the review board might weigh in on your paint choice. But if all you want to do is paint a building, you need no approval.

(There is one large exception to this rule. If there is an historic easement on your building, you may need the easement holder’s permission to paint. L’Enfant Trust, for example, requires such approval.)

And GM doesn’t think there should be mandatory review for mere paint jobs. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a shame when a historic unpainted brick facade gets painted. Particularly when it’s just to make it, essentially, a large billboard.


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