The Arcade Laundry & Sunshine Dry Cleaning & Dyeing Co., Inc.

Arcade-Sunshine building ca. 1920The old Arcade-Sunshine Laundry, located in Park View, was founded by Harry Viner, who was born in Russian Poland and moved to Washington in 1907, where he subsequently built a one-man tailor shop into the largest dry cleaning and laundry establishment in the area and one of the largest in the nation.

Harry was considered a  pioneer in dry cleaning, and was co-developer of the Stoddard solvent, which became the standard in the business.

Based on what is known at this time, it appears that the main facility located at 713-731 Lamont Street, NW, was completed either in 1920 or early in 1921. As part of the new plant’s festivities, Arcade-Sunshine invited every Washington housewife “to inspect the cleanest, largest, and sunniest and most scientific establishment for laundrying, cleaning and dyeing clothes in America.” The full ad, published in Nov. 20, 1921, is below.

Arcade-Sunshine Laundry 1920

The ad continues by encouraging visitors to inspect the plant, see the mammoth tanks where 55,000 gallons of water are softened each day, to visit the Mending Department, the Collar Ironers, and even the Clothes Extractors which had replaced the dangerous wringers.

The ad above was actually part of a two page spread. The lead page is below.

Arcade-SunshineArcade-Sunshine Laundry addition

As extensive as the plant was in the early twenties, it still needed to expand several years later, adding a four-story structure to the west of the original industry complex.

By the time Harry Viner died on January 22, 1953, his estate was valued at $800,000. Business continued with Harry’s son, Leonard Viner, as president of the Arcade-Sunshine Co.

Sunshine Laundry smokestack

Sunshine Laundry smokestack

In March of 1961, Leonard announced the sale of Arcade-Sunshine’s retail routes to four other Washington firms, including the Manhattan laundry. The block-long plant on Lamont was not affected and remained the center of the wholesale laundry and dry cleaning operations.

Today, Linens of the Week is operating out of the plant continuing the laundry tradition on Lamont Street.

Additional photos, both old and new, are below.

Arcade Sunshine Co.  above entrance

Arcade Sunshine Co. above entrance

Arcade-Sunshine, original plant

Arcade-Sunshine, original plant

Arcade Sunshine original entrance

Arcade Sunshine Co

Arcade Sunshine presses ca. 1921

Arcade Sunshine presses ca. 1921

Arcade Sunshine collar section ca. 1921

Arcade Sunshine collar section ca. 1921


11 Responses to “The Arcade Laundry & Sunshine Dry Cleaning & Dyeing Co., Inc.”

  1. Nice images form DC’s industrial past, minor as it was, Arcade Sunshine laundry is still there, now as Linens of The Week serves as reminder of areas not so gentrified.

  2. Wow, good job on this one! Very cool.

  3. That article comes from a time when steam laundries were the largest service industry in the country. Working in a steam laundry was one of the few employment opportunities for blue collar women at that time.

  4. Very interesting. Leonard Viner used to be a friend of mine. I lost touch with him thirty years ago. I had heard him mention Arcade-Sunshine on occasion, but I never knew very much about it. This is the first time that I’ve been able to find anything in detail at all about the company. Leonard used to tell me that J. Edgar Hoover would come in regularly. I suppose many of D.C.’s luminaries of an earlier time came in to get their dry cleaning done.

    There was apparently a dry cleaner in D.C. that used to disassemble linen and cotton suits worn by men in D.C.–this was before air conditioning–then would wash them, dry the pieces in the sun, then reassemble the suits. I suspect it might have been Arcade-Sunshine.

    I remember reading a story about how Michael Viner, who was married to actress Deborah Raffin at the time and the nephew of Leonard, decided to try recording books for an elderly uncle who had trouble reading. That was apparently the start of Dove Books.

  5. sir i am mukesh kumar form india i am laundry dry cleaner & deying worker last 16years in india my qualifaction 10+2
    in arts sir any work in youer factory plz you contact me my pnone no +919463244617,+919814411228 my adress house no 644 dakoha jalandher cantt punjab india

  6. always choose dry cleaners that uses organic based cleaning agents and detergent to help the environment”:`

  7. […] There are many ways to get some sense of what life was like in Washington’s past. Two obvious ways are in looking at old photographs and reading old newspapers. Additional insight can be gleaned from historic ephemera, such as old matchbooks. I’ve chosen a few here from the Arcade Sunshine Laundry that was located at 713-731 Lamont Street, NW. I’ve previously posted a brief history of this laundry which people can read here>> […]

  8. […] haven’t posted any matchbook covers from the Arcade Sunshine Laundry that was located at 713-731 Lamont Street, NW since March 2011, but I continue to find a wide […]

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  11. I recently found a photo of the 1939 Sunshine Arcade company dinner showing my father and uncle-who both drove route trucks. My dad died in 1994. He told me he made more money than college educated guys between his commission and tips. After he died i figured out he quit High School after the 11th grade to work full time.He entered the Navy in 1941-came back and opened his own laundry and Dry cleaning business in Vienna Va. in 1946 which he expanded at one time into 12 “route”
    stores served by the plant in Vienna. I never knew he was a high school drop out till after he died. He had beautiful handwriting and was great at math in his head without paper or pencil. He fixed every machine in that plant and took me down there Sunday afternoons to hold the flashlight when he was under a piece of equipment. He would scold me “if you can see it then I can see it” Man -that generation that lived thru the Depression will never be duplicated. it was great seeing the buildings he worked in!

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