Archive for the Art Deco Category

Architectural Details on Mitchell Gold Building

Posted in Art Deco, Commercial, Shaw with tags , on July 22, 2009 by Kent

Architectural details on 1520 14th StreetI’ve commented on the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams building before, located at 1520 14th Street. But I wanted to point out some details that I really like.

The first is the Egyptian inspired decoration on the exterior, which I find interesting for a former automobile dealership. This would definitely date the building to sometime after 1922 when the discovery by Howard Carter of Tutankhamun’s tomb received worldwide press coverage and sparked a renewed public interest in ancient Egypt.
Architectural details on 1520 14th Street

The other detail I really like is the poured concrete ceiling on the interior.
Architectural details on 1520 14th Street

There is a lot of nice detail there … so next time you’re in the area or happen to go in you might want to enjoy the building as well as the furniture.l

Lost Washington: the Trans-Lux Theater

Posted in Art Deco, Downtown, Lost Washington, Theaters with tags , , , on July 9, 2009 by Kent

Trans-Lux theaterThe Trans-Lux was once located on the west side of 14th Street, NW, between New York Avenue and H Street. The Trans-Lux was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb in 1936.  The theater opened on March 13, 1937.

One of Washington’s most elegant art deco buildings, the streamlined theater was designed to show exclusively the latest newsreels from all corners of the globe together with an assortment of shorts, comedies, and travelogs.

The theater had many features unique for its day in Washington — well-spaced seats, indirect lighting, rear screen projection, wall-to-wall carpeting, sound-absorbent walls, and one of the first air-conditioning systems in a public building in the city.

Efforts were made to save the Trans-Lux but they proved futile. In the end, Washington preservationists lost as the parking-lot firm PMI razed it in 1975.Trans-Lux demolition 1Trans-Lux demolition 2

Acacia Griffins

Posted in Art Deco, Sculpture with tags , , on May 29, 2009 by Kent

The Griffins in front of the old Acacia Life Insurance building, now home to Jones Day, includes two griffins created by Edmond R. Amateis in 1936. The two mythological creatures consisting of the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. These two sculptures flank the steps that lead up to the entrance of the building. The griffin on the left is a female and the griffin on the right is a male. Each holds a nest of eggs between its paws which symbolizes the defense of their home. The image below is of the male griffin.Acacia Griffin

Police Memorial

Posted in Art Deco, Monuments and Memorials with tags on May 28, 2009 by Kent

Police MemorialThe Police Memorial outside of the Municipal Center on Indiana Ave. appears to date to the time of the building. The plan for a much larger complex of buildings was approved in 1934, but construction on a single building, called the Municipal Center, did not begin until 1939.

While incorporated into and eclipsed by the larger Washington Area Law Enforcement Memorial, the older Police Memorial has some very nice, yet subtle, details.
Police memorial detail
Police memorial detail

Agriculture by Concetta Scaravaglione

Posted in Art Deco, Sculpture with tags , , on May 20, 2009 by Kent

This is the last of the four bas reliefs on the Federal Trade Commission Building to be posted. This one honors agriculture. You can find the other four here>>Agriculture by Concetta Scaravaglione

In Search of Good Lighting

Posted in Art Deco, Judiciary Square on May 19, 2009 by Kent

I have a real thing for good lighting, whether it be an attractive light fixture or a nice warm glow that it emits. I really liked this Art Deco fixture outside of the Municipal Center at Judiciary Square.Art Deco Torchiere

Federal Trade Commission Reliefs Continued

Posted in Art Deco, Federal Triangle, Government Buildings, Sculpture on May 15, 2009 by Kent

Here is a bas relief by Robert Laurent titled Shipping.  This is one of several reliefs that adorn the Federal Trade Commission building. Shipping by Robert Laurent

Another Federal Trade Commission Relief

Posted in Art Deco, Federal Triangle, Sculpture on May 14, 2009 by Kent

What I really like about this relief above the door at the southwest corner of the Federal Trade Commission is that it is so completely inappropriate. The reliefs around the building depict scenes of trade, and this one portrays a scene of the ivory trade.Federal Trade Commission

The Manhattan Laundry

Posted in Art Deco, Columbia Heights, Commercial, Shaw on April 28, 2009 by Kent

Manhattan LaundryAn exception for Washington, the Manhattan Laundry is a rare example of art moderne architecture in the city. Located at 1326 Florida Avenue, NW, the Manhattan Laundry was designed by architect Bedford Brown, IV, in 1935.

manhattan-windowIts facade displays certain motifs characteristic of contemporary commercial buildings, including elegant bandings of enameled metal that mimic traditional architectural devices as a layered architrave at the roof level, pilasters, and rustication. The facade was further enriched by the use of colored green and yellow enameled metal panels of water lilies above the second floor windows and a Greek Key design around the main entrance.

Clothes were laundered and dry cleaned on the first and second floors, the third floor was used by the clerical staff, who worked in rooms divided by walls of small, translucent glass blocks.

The building was abandoned by the company in 1973 and was badly vandalized soon afterward. It was further damaged by fire in 1978 and scheduled for demolition in 1979.meridian-doorway  Fortunately, it was saved and restored in 1987 and is now the Meridian Public Charter School.manhattan-laundry-interior1

1520 14th Street, NW

Posted in Art Deco, Automobile Dealerships, Random Observations, Shaw on April 23, 2009 by Kent

1520 14th StreetI’ve had a thing for this building when I first saw it several years ago. Located in the middle of what used to be Washington’s automobile row, this building has a subtle Egyptian theme to it that most people probably don’t notice.

While its been a furniture store since it was refurbished and opened — first as a Storehouse, and now as a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams — it was originally an automobile dealership. This was very clear when Storehouse was in this building, less so with some of the changes that occurred with the current tenant.

mott-motors-incI’m not sure when the building was built, or who the first dealer was, but I did find the accompanying add from August 17, 1930, showing that Mott Motors sold Hupmobiles there.

Later, Graham Motor Sales was reported as moving into the space on August 1, 1933, and using it for sales and their service headquarters.


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