How a Local Preservationist is Protecting Anacostia’s Heritage

May 1, 2023

This year’s Preservation Month theme of “People Saving Places” is a national high-five to everyone doing the great work of saving places—in ways big and small—and inspiring others to do the same. Read our interview below with Greta Fuller, Co-President of the Historic Anacostia Preservation Society and Board member of DC Preservation League, on how she is protecting her beloved Historic Anacostia in the face of new developmental pressures.  

How long have you lived in Historic Anacostia and why did you choose to live there?

I moved to Historic Anacostia, May 2001, it’s been 22 years. I chose to live in Historic Anacostia because it felt like a close-knit community where you could rely on your neighbors with amazing unobstructed views of the city, green space, an airy feeling, the Anacostia park and river. The neighborhood had a small town feel with low scale buildings and small store fronts that felt welcoming. The historic Italianate and Queen Anne style houses with front and rear yards are appealing and offer a feel of a neighborhood. And let’s not forget it’s one of the best locations in the city with easy access to major highways leading to both Virginia and Maryland, as well as points of interest like the National Mall, Navy Yard, Capitol Hill, and St. Elizabeth’s which are all within biking and walking distance or a short ride using public or private transportation.

Historic Anacostia photo
Greta in front of one of her favorite historic buildings in Historic Anacostia.

Why is protecting Anacostia’s architectural and cultural heritage important to you?

I’m struggling to answer this question because new development has changed the landscape along Historic Anacostia’s business corridor. While I have had many preservation wins, I have had equal losses saving and restoring the original structures in the neighborhood. A walk along the business corridor reveals the losses and the struggle to hold on to the architectural and cultural heritage. I find businesses have closed and buildings have been razed and replaced with taller structures creating the feel of a canyon rather than an airy outdoor experience. The airy open space that was once Historic Anacostia is fading. The new structures have a closed in feeling and the residents lose city views every day, the homes are nestled close together and were built to receive light from the open space but taller structures throughout the community are also taking away the natural light and airy feeling of the neighborhood.

How are you building community and inspiring support for preservation in Anacostia?

I encourage community members to participate in workshops and neighborhood tours to learn more about where they live. I also host events that allow residents to understand where to find information about their houses, how to navigate the Historic Preservation review process, help residents understand what to expect from contractors or when it is a DIY project that can be accomplished on their own, and help community members meet the historic standards of the historic district. I am a founding member of the local historic group that addresses all new construction and rehabilitation of existing historic structures. Historic Anacostia Preservation Society (HAPS) was established in 2005. HAPS aims to preserve, restore, and revive Historic Anacostia by championing historic preservation, and encouraging adherence to laws and guidelines to ensure the care and conservation of our community’s distinctive history. I also work to create conversations with owners, renters, developers and government agencies to address the character and guidelines of the historic district, by helping them understand the traffic flow and rhythm along the business corridor and neighborhood streets, the importance of harmonious street scape and signage as new development is created.

What is your favorite building or place in Anacostia?

It’s hard to identify a favorite building or place in Anacostia. However, if I had to identify a building at this moment I would identify 1409 V Street, SE. Advocacy between St. Theresa of Avila, the Historic Anacostia community, and HAPS brought an unused structure back on line to once again promote education for children in the community. It also shows how collaboration with the building’s development team in the earlier stages of renovation can bring a successful project to an existing historic structure. It’s a perfect example of historic rehabilitation and a sympathetic building addition. Click here for additional information about 1409 V Street, SE and to see more photos of the completed project.

1409 V Street SE for Greta Feature
1409 V Street, SE following rehabilitation.

You can learn more about Greta’s work with HAPS at You can also follow HAPS on social media at @HAPS_DC.  

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.