"The history of this building really tells a tale of Washington, especially over a 50-year period," Miller says.
That history also includes the 1968 riots, which left swaths of the city charred after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. "After 1968, after the riots, there were no more live concerts here," Miller says. "The city was declining and population...there just wasn't the necessity for this kind of venue."
The building, like much of downtown Washington, fell into disrepair. It was sold and became a trash transfer station. Today it's a parking garage. It was considered one of D.C.'s most endangered buildings at one point and was slated to be razed.
That didn't stop Beatles fans from coming. "There are groups of Beatles fans that come here every year on the anniversary, and they'll drive their car in and play their boombox and dance around the arena," Miller notes. One couple -- known only as Dan and Holly -- have come back again and again, adding fresh graffiti to the area outside the box office's front door almost every year.
The fans' dedication didn't necessarily save the Uline, but it certainly helped. In 2004, the property was scooped up by Washington, D.C., developer Douglas Development and saved from the wrecking ball. A decade later, construction is supposed to start this spring to transform the arena into a four-story office and retail building, which will be aptly named "The Coliseum."
"So there will be several floors that will be put inside that will take away from the space," Miller says. "That's the hard part because a lot of people are disappointed from that perspective, but they really did try for a very long time." Douglas Development tried to find a way to preserve the building in its natural state, Miller says, but the space was simply too big. Still, she says: "We do look at it as a save."
February 11, 2014
Before the Coliseum gets a polish and several new floors, the Beatles concert will be recreated to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary. Sure, it won't be the actual Beatles -- instead, a cover band called Beatlemania Now will perform -- but Roe, who performed that night with the Beatles, will be there. (McCartney and Starr have been invited.) The event is a fundraiser for the D.C. Preservation League and will be a last chance to see the Uline in its original, though deteriorated, form.
"This is just one of those moments where historic preservation meets pop culture," Miller says. "It's good for people to understand that historic preservation isn't just about the architecture of the buildings, it's about the people as well, and the story behind the buildings."
Visit the D.C. Preservation League's official 50th anniversary website for more information.