Archive for the Penn Quarter Category
The Raleigh Hotel got its start in 1893 when the Shepherd Centennial Building on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street, NW, was converted from commercial use into the hotel by Washington architect Leon E. Dessez.
The hotel expanded quickly. In 1897 three additional floors were added. In 1898 New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh designed a major addition in the center of 12th Street to the north of the original building. The building was enlarged by Hardenbergh again in 1905. By 1911, the original building was considered too dated and razed for Hardenbergh’s new, Beaux Arts, thirteen-story main hotel building facing Pennsylvania Avenue.
The builder’s demand for height caused Congress to change the height limit for Pennsylvania Avenue froom 130 feet to 160 feet in 1910.
The Raleigh was well know for good food, drink, and entertainment. It was equally regarded for the beauty of its architectural details, such as the decoration of the gold-and-white ballroom on the top floor.
It was a prosperous hotel, though it lost some of its business to the Mayflower Hotel when it opened. One of the factors that made the Raleigh such a success was its manager, Curt C. Schiffeler, who managed to create a warm and informal atmosphere that pleased the guests. Schiffeler remained at the Raleigh until he retired in 1954. By then newer hotels were drawing patronage away. The Raleigh was razed ten years later in 1964.
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This is a great image of what Pennsylvania Ave. looked like around 1908. The most obvious difference is that the street went through the current Navy Memorial. Other items of interest are Kann’s department store, the Central Union Mission in the back ground, and the spire of the Metropolitan Memorial Methodist Church in the distance which was razed in 1956.
The Website Cinema Treatures povides the following history of the Metropolitan Theater, which was located on the south side of the 900 block of F Street.
The Metropolitan was built in 1917. It was designed by architect Reginald Geare, who also designed the Lincoln and Knickerbocker Theatres.
The 1400-seat Metropolitan had a three story Georgian Revival facade, with four sets of Doric pilasters below an ornately sculpted pediment. Between four sets of decorative friezes just below the pediment, the theater’s name was incised into the stone in bold lettering.
Around the late 20s, a large marquee replaced the more simple original, somewhat obscuring the arched window over the main entrance. Also, a 60-foot tall vertical sign was also added at this time, with its top support punched right into the sculpture on the pediment. Up until the early 40s, the Metropolitan included live stage entertainment, including a house orchestra, in addition to movies. The theater was also the site of the Washington premiere of “The Jazz Singer” in 1927, the first theater in the capital to show a “talking picture”. A year later, the Metropolitan was acquired by the Warner Brothers chain, which it remained into the 50s.
The theater received two massive remodels in 1954 and 1961 in an attempt to entice more movie goers with its attendance falling. Unfortunately, the Metropolitan closed a few years later, and was razed in 1968.
According to Shorpy where this image has previously posted, the Joy opened in 1913 and was generally simply referred to as Crandall’s, after owner Harry M. Crandall. This image is ca. 1920.
The Joy, located on the southeast corner of 9th and E Streets, NW, was Crandall’s springboard to the top of the Washington movie ladder. He spent $25,000 to build the Joy in what had been a four-story building that housed a haberdashery. The floor was red concrete and sloped to the front so that it could be flooded every night after the theater closed. It was believed that a complete flooding would keep the theater absolutely sanitary.
Seating was about 450, the Joy was in operation only until 1924, when it was converted back into retail space.
The Joy was part of a string of theaters located on the 400 and 500 blocks of 9th Street which included Moore’s Garden Theatre, shown in the above photograph to the right of the Joy. You can read more about Moore’s in this earlier post.
The entire block has been razed and replaced by new structures over the years.
In the grand scheme of things, 44 years isn’t that long ago. That’s when this model of Pennsylvania Ave and its surrounding areas was constructed (Courtesy Smithsonian Institution). Much of the Federal Triangle had already been built, but as you can see, there were still plans to raze the Old Post Office.
Pennsylvania Ave., on the otherhand, was to be completely razed and replaced by sterile modern buildings, as referred to in the September 16, 1965 Congressional Record (within the discussion on selecting a site for the Kennedy Center).
In 1926, Charles J. Haje — a native of Lebanon — started the Haje’s Restaurant chain in Washington. His son, Jack, pioneered the first motorcycle deliveries of cooked chicken by the five restaurants in the area.