The Georgetown branch of the D.C. Public Library is on fire, authorities said.
The D.C. Fire Department is battling a two-alarm blaze at the building in the 3600 block of R Street in northwest D.C. News4's Darcy Spencer reported that firefighters are trying to save paintings and historic items from the building.
UPDATE: More from DCist: Georgetown Public Library Ablaze
Beginning at 12:45 this afternoon, we could see the smoke from the western edge of Dupont. The library was built in 1935 and has a number of historical documents and paintings which fire fighters are trying to save. NBC4 reports that it's currently a two-alarm blaze. Judging from the dozens of emergency response vehicles heading that way, and today's vicious winds, we fear that may be upgraded. Wikipedia (which should hardly be taken for gospel) also has rumors that it's in danger of collapse.
MORE: Fire Races Through Georgetown Library (Washington Post)
As he watched the smoke pouring out of the roof and second story of the building at 3260 R Street, N.W., Jerry McCoy, the archivist who also is librarian of the branch's Peabody Room, said photos, maps and oil paintings of the neighborhood were stored in the west end of the building, which he said was built in 1935. "This has always been my worst nightmare. I've always feared this would happen," he said. "I've always thought if there was a fire, what would I grab first."
WTOP Radio: Major Blaze Ignites at G'Town Public Library
With everyone safe, firefighters worked to save as much of the building as possible, and the dozens of historical documents inside the library, including the Peabody collection -- historical documents on the history of the city and Georgetown.
Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper says they hope to freeze dry what can be salvaged and save what they can, with the help of the Library of Congress.
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty says the city will work hard to restore the documents and rebuild the facility.
About the Peabody Collection:
Housing the Peabody Collection of Georgetowniana:
- An up-to-date file on individual historic Georgetown addresses
- Information on chain of title, assessment records, and alterations of local houses and buildings
- Plats and maps of Georgetown
- Published books and journal articles either about Georgetown life or written by Georgetown residents
- Historic newspapers from the Georgetown area
George Peabody (b.1795 - d. 1869), famed financier and philanthropist, left his mark and some money here in Georgetown DC. As young volunteer in the War of 1812, he served on the banks of the Potomac, and decided, after the War, to settle in Georgetown. In 1819, he went into what proved to be a successful mercantile business with Elisha Riggs. At the time of Riggs’ retirement, branches were in existence throughout the eastern United State. In 1837, Peabody moved to London and established himself there as a merchant and exchange broker. This venture later became J.P. Morgan and Company. Peabody amassed a fortune on both sides of the Atlantic . When he made his charitable bequests, he remembered all the places where he had lived.
The Georgetown branch of the D.C. Public Library at 3260 R Street, N.W. was opened in October 1935. The library was located on the former site of the Georgetown Reservoir that dated back to 1853 when the reservoir was constructed to supply water to residents of Georgetown. Demolition of the reservoir began in 1932, with the infilling of the site and construction of the library building taking several years. When the library opened in 1935, the press heralded it as "the pride of the community." The library, designed by D.C. Municipal Architect Nathan C. Wyeth, was funded by a $150,000 appropriation included in the District's appropriation act of 1935. Georgetown was the only Neighborhood Library to contain a separate collection on local history, housed in the second floor Peabody Room. The Georgetown Regional Neighborhood Library is located within the Georgetown National Register Historic District designated in 1967.