Historic Shaw Homes: Bring Your Flashlight

Do you want to breathe life into an historic Shaw/Old City home? Do you want to live just half a block from the historic O Street Market building (below)? Do you have faith in the continuing rejuvenation of this area of town, with help from the new Convention Center and the new hotel planned nearby? 


Well then, you’ll want to know about the 2 bed/1 bath Victorian row house fixer-upper on the edge of Shaw at 1512 8th St. NW ! You won’t need a flashlight to see the MLS photos, but the agent warns you to bring one along for the visit. The house is boarded up but it still has original wood doors, frames, mantles and a clawfoot tub. Built in 1900 and selling for $332,000, it looks like a perfect candidate for ‘This Old House.”

Other self-declared fixer-uppers in the neighborhood:

1530 6th St. NW - $645,000 – 5 bed/3 bath Victorian row house with 10′ ceilings, bay windows, English basement, 2 parking spots and more. Built in 1900.

605 P St. NW - $799,000 – Victorian row house also built in 1900 (seems to be a magic year for those streets.) The listing calls this a 14-bedroom house but says it is essentially a shell with 3 full baths and an English basement. My guess is that it was a rooming house of some sort. Again, bring your flashlight and wear good shoes if you go for a visit!

There are more homes in the area that are listed in the MLS as fixer-uppers. You can find them using the Redfin search/map with the fixer-upper filter.

Learn more about historic Shaw and living in Shaw from the very active locals at:


My two cents on renovations: for those who have the vision and fortitude to take on a major fixer-upper, the results can be outstanding both in terms of getting the home you love and eventual financial return. Personally, I would love to do this if I ever get the chance. But it is hard to know in advance whether the financial return will really happen, or how long it will take. Read this local blog post for a dose of reality. Make sure you do your research. And if you are part of a couple taking on such a project, be sure that a) you both are people who value potential over current status and b) your relationship can handle the inevitable stresses of doing a major renovation! Finally, have fun and enjoy the transformation!


Photo: M.V. Jantzen, Creative Commons license

  • doug

    Hi. When you recommend these houses and resources to learn about the area, why not recommend finding the Washington DC Metro Police Department Yahoo listserv? Not everyone would want to deal with some of the crime and violence issues that occur with some measure of frequency in the area.

    Pointing this out because I almost learned this the hard way – and very few people, especially in the real estate industry – like to mention anything problematic.

  • allison

    Hi Doug – thanks for the reference. Yes, crime is an issue in many DC neighborhoods, like all urban centers. This is why I suggest that all buyers do their homework, including through very local blogs that cover crime and other issues (and often link to DC Police info.) Some of these blogs can give block by block insite on the real crime situation and local atmosphere, as opposed to general stats.

    PLEASE NOTE THAT I AM NOT RECOMMENDING any properties to anyone. My blog simply highlights interesting things that I see on the market within the framework of my theme of the day. On this day, the theme was fix-me-ups in a gentrifying neighborhood, with all of the general implications therein.

  • http://www.inshaw.com/blog Mari

    Wow, that was a while ago, since then I’ve spiffied the place up, evened the floors, gone in debt :-)
    As far as crime goes see (http://www.crimereports.com/map/index/?search=+Washington+DC )and see there is crime all over the city. Even on the other side of 16th St NW. Like evaluating stocks or mutual funds you have to determine your individual tolerance for risk vs gains.