The National Park Seminary in Kensington, near the Washington D.C. Temple

This is the Grand Ballroom in its glory days. Now the building is sadly falling apart. Note the three photos I took, above. Actually, I am not sure the ballroom was inside the building I saw, but it was the largest building I found. My photos may be of the old gymnasium. I did not have the time to see everything, like the English castle, etc. Maybe that is where the old ballroom was located? You can see more pics if you follow the link below, to the new condos, then click around on that website, but I only get piecemeal photos on different websites. Google images also has some amazing photos, but only part of the whole property. Does anyone know the scoop?
(This last photo is not mine. It is for sale at the Library of Congress)

Discovering the National Park Seminary (College) in Kensington
This is the first of several posts about my trip to Washington D.C. last week. I arrived on Friday afternoon and promptly rented a car from Budget for 24 hours ($20.15 including tax!). My daughter, Rachel, and her husband Scott, met me, and we drove to the L.D.S. Washington D. C. temple, which is right near this cool old girls school with amazing buildings that date back to 1887, when it was a high-end vacation resort. It is called the National Park Seminary, or National Park College. In 1936 it became a prestigious womens school. The architecture is an intriguing, eclectic mix. In 1942, the army paid $890,000 for the entire property and used the buildings for an army hospital for disabled soldiers. The army abandoned it in the 1970s and the buildings started to deteriorate, for lack of needed repairs. I think they may have designed many buildings after the Chicago world’s fair, which had architecture from around the world.

My friend, Hillary, used to sneak under the fence and wander around to take photos. After hearing that, I knew I had to go. Luckily, you no longer have to climb under a fence to check it out, because I was in a skirt and heels (on the way to the temple), so I am not sure how I would have pulled that off, though I am sure I would have found a way. They have restored several of the buildings and transformed the dorms and chalets into modern condos. I am so happy I discovered this before all the buildings are renovated, because I love old places! There are cool old statues, fountains, a Chinese pagoda, a Belgian walkway, a Swiss chalet, a Dutch windmill, and an English castle. They even have a ballroom that looks Harry Potter’s grand dining hall. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and some buildings are off limits until they restore them. Here are some links with photos so you can see what it was like, along with some history, directions and prices on the new high-end condos:

NPS History and photos, if you scroll down
NPS condos for sale, with photos
Directions and photos if you scroll down

The dutch windmill is for sale, so if you need a cozy little second home in D.C. you should consider it. Of course, you would have to be in the mood for a major fixer-upper, and I am pretty sure it is haunted. Notice the eerie light in the photo. 🙂

I ran many of these images through Dynamic Photo for High Dynamic Range, to bring out the colors and light. It had just rained in a big way, so the color saturation was beautiful, along with the great clouds. We had some marble-sized hail in the downpour, but luckily we were in our trusty $20 rental car (economy size, of course). One piece of hail sounded like a golf ball when it hit the hood, and I was worried I would have another dented roof to deal with. (Not again, after the bear-on-the-roof incident! … see my last blog post for that story)

Anyway, you should check out this location the next time you are in D.C., but I hope, by then, you still get to see some of the old buildings. You can see how the new dorms look now, in the last photo by the D.C. temple shots. They are using a white stucco with red trim, which is nice, but just not the same as the old plaster and red brick, falling apart everywhere. I love old junk, especially if I find it in old buildings. Old structures speak to me, if you know what I mean. It is so intriguing to see remnants of an earlier life. Not to get sappy, but I just like to feel the history of a place and capture it all in a photo. My next post will be more shots of the D.C area. We went to the Eastern Market and it was a blast…Another must-do if you are there on a Saturday.