The DC Historic Preservation Review Board unanimously approved an application by a Scientology church to designate 1812 19th Street, Northwest, as a historic landmark last Thursday. The building will now be entered on the District’s Inventory of Historic Sites—a key step toward attaining a listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
The building, commonly known the L. Ron Hubbard House, is one of two neighboring buildings in Dupont Circle owned by a subsidiary of the Church of Spiritual Technology, which preserves Scientology history, including Hubbard’s writings. 1812 19th Street is also the place where Hubbard developed the church’s organizational structure, as well as the site of the first Scientology wedding, which was between Hubbard’s secretary, Mildred Deen, and John Galusha, on December 20, 1958.
The Rev. Susan Taylor, the national public affairs director of the Church of Scientology’s national affairs office in Washington, says the church aims to landmark properties with connections to Hubbard: “I think just like any other religion it’s important for our members to identify historic places where our founder has either lived or worked.”
Hubbard moved to DC in 1955, where the church was founded on July 4 of that year. He had published his book Dianetics five years before and developed Scientology as a religion in the intervening years. The church moved its offices from 1826 R Street, Northwest, to 1810 and 1812 19th Street the following year. 1812 hosts a re-creation of Hubbard’s office at the time, with a mix of original items and replicas of Hubbard’s effects.
The Beaux-Arts building holds more history: Its primary architect was Waddy Butler Wood, who designed a number of significant houses and buildings around Washington, including the former Masonic temple that now houses the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
The church calls 1812 19th Street the Original Founding Church of Scientology; it currently functions as a by-appointment museum and includes a reading room for visiting Scientologists. If the church’s application prevails with the National Register of Historic Places, as is likely now that it’s a historic landmark in DC, the house will be the third Hubbard-related property to be so recognized: A house in Bay Head, New Jersey, where he wrote Dianetics and a house in Phoenix where he wrote the first books about the religion are already listed.