Archive for Penn Quarter

Lost Washington: The Raleigh Hotel

Posted in Hotels, Lost Washington, Penn Quarter with tags , , , , on July 17, 2009 by Kent

Raleigh Hotel ca. 1915The 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.
Raleigh Hotel at Night

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.
Raleigh Hotel

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.

More images after the jump Continue reading

Pennsylvania Ave. ca. 1908

Posted in Culture and History, Federal Triangle, Judiciary Square, Penn Quarter with tags , , , on June 15, 2009 by Kent

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.Pennsylvania Ave from 9th Street

Lost Washington: The Metropolitan

Posted in Lost Washington, Penn Quarter, Theaters with tags , , , on June 4, 2009 by Kent

Metropolitan Theater ca. 1922The 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.

Metropolitan Theater ca. 1921The 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.

Metropolitan Theater 1950sThe 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.

Lost Washington: Crandall’s Joy Theater

Posted in Lost Washington, Penn Quarter, Theaters with tags , , on May 12, 2009 by Kent

Crandall's Joy TheaterAccording 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.

Lost Washington: Loew’s Palace Theater

Posted in Entertainment, Lost Washington, Penn Quarter, Theaters with tags , , on April 30, 2009 by Kent

loews-palace-ca-1920Opened on November 4, 1918, the Loew’s Palace Theater was Washington’s first movie palace and the site of numerous early premieres. Loew’s was designed by architect Thomas W. Lamb as a 2423 seat single screen theater and was located at 1306 F Street, NW.

In addition to motion pictures, stage shows began in 1926 and continued until 1932. loews-palace-lobby-ca-1920The Loew’s Palace Theater was also reportedly the first DC movie house with air conditioning which was installed in 1926.

As the theater began to decline, Loew’s spent $225,000 to renovate the theater in 1964 which changed the paint, walls, and carpeting at which time orchestra and balcony wall boxes were also removed.

loews-palace-interiorIn 1968, a robbery occurred in which two people were shot and wounded and a year later Loew’s put the old movie palace up for sale.

The Loew’s Palace was finally closed for good in 1978, and was torn down in late-1979. (Source of history, Cinema Treasures)loews-palace-theater

Then and Now: 11th & F, NW

Posted in Commercial, Penn Quarter, Then and Now with tags , on April 29, 2009 by Kent

w b moses-sonsThen: ca. 1910, the W.B. Moses & Sons building. W.B. Moses moved to Washington from Philadelphia during the Civil War, and within 50 years established the largest exclusively retail furniture, carpet, and drapery business in America. W.B. Moses settled on the corner of 11th and F in 1884, and the building was added on to in  1887, 1889, 1898, and 1906.

0084Now: Yet another, largely nondescript office building.

Lost Washington: The Empress Theater

Posted in Lost Washington, Penn Quarter, Theaters with tags , , on April 16, 2009 by Kent

empress-theatreThe Empress was located at 416 9th Street, NW, and opened in 1910 for motion pictures. It was a 400 seat house designed by architect  B. Frank Meyers. It was completely renovated in 1915 after only 5 years of service.

In November of 1920, the Empress Theater was sold to Marcus Notes, and on February 1, 1936, two film operators were burned and a panic narrowly averted when a fire broke out in the projection room.

The theater lasted until 1945, and was later demolished.empress-theater-detail