Lost Washington: Northern Liberty Market

The Northern Liberty Market, later known as the Convention Hall, was begun in 1874 and completed in a record 6 months. It replaced the former structure at Mount Vernon Square that Gov. Alexander R. Shepherd had ordered closed in August 1872.convention-hall

Located on the east side of 5th Street, NW, between K and L Streets, Northern Liberty Market was the chief competitor to Central Market, located where the National Archives now sits.

convention-hall-marketThe market was designed by James H. McGill. When it opened in January 1875, the market provided 284 vending stalls, which were auctioned when the building opened for an average price of $2,500 each. It never achieved the success that was expected of it, as it was too far from the main commercial artery of the city — 7th street.

In 1891, a second floor was added, forming a great auditorium seating 5,000 persons. That is when the name was changed to Convention Hall, where some of the largest gatherings in the city were held.

There was a horrible fire in 1946 in which the roof and upper walls collapsed and the interior was gutted. It was then rebuilt as a single storied, flat roofed market. It was lastly used as a wax museum from 1966 to 1974. Finally, what remained of the original market was razed in 1985.convention-hall-bowling-alleyconvention-hall-bowling-alley-lobbyconvention-hall-ladies-room-ca-19251convention-hall-auto-show 1924


2 Responses to “Lost Washington: Northern Liberty Market”

  1. Here’s a colorized picture of the Convention Hall in the DC Public Library on Flickr:

    Convention Hall

    Aaron Schmidt
    Digital Initiatives Librarian, DCPL

  2. Hi – great article!!
    I work for the current DC Convention Center and I came acrossed your blog. Who owns these photos and would it be possible to get them myself?

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