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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • THE NEW ZEALAND FOREST, c. 1950

Streetscape: 1924

Streetscape: 1924

Washington circa 1924. "Wilkins Building, 1514 H Street." With a ghost strolling past the hydrant. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

 

Hekimian

That's a rug store owned by an Armenian (Nejib Hekimian). His last name suggests that he's from a family that that originated from a doctor (hekim) (hekimian=son of doctor)

Electric car

It think that's a Baker Electric.

Dignified Structure to the left...

...is the headquarters of the American Bar Association, which recently had its exterior renovated. It's a magnificent Classical granite structure, and is at the end of the block behind the bank building that is visible in the oblique rendering of the Treasury building that was on the back of the older $10 bill (that bank building is still there, looking great).

Ghosts

Why are there ghosts in some older photos like this? Is it to do with the cameras, the light, people walking too fast?

[It's a time exposure. If you keep the shutter of your camera open for five seconds or so and take a picture of people walking along the street, you'll get the same effect. - Dave]

Attention automakers

There appears to be a nifty electric car parked in front of the Wilkins Building. The Big Three automakers should have brought something like it to modern-day Washington as a begging -- er, bargaining -- tool with Congress!

1516 H street

While the Wilkins building is lost, the row house to the right, #1516, is still there, albeit with an altered (reverted?) facade.

I don't know the all the history here, but apparently the government developed plans to raze most of the historical buildings around Lafayette Square in order to replace them with "modern" office buildings. Jacqueline Kennedy led the effort to save the old buildings, one of the first examples of preservation focused on a historic district, not just a single building.


Spring Realty Active

The building at 1516 H street northwest, adjoining the home of the Cosmos Club, is being remodeled for business purposes, and will be occupied, after May 1, by the real estate office of E.C. Brainerd, who is now at 1410 G street northwest.

Washington Post, Apr 17, 1910


View Larger Map

Rugs to riches

Nejib Hekimian -- ground floor on the left -- had, not surprisingly giving his telltale name, a business for "Oriental Rugs." These were better days for Persian-American relations, I guess.

Feeling Rather Ill ...

So this is "progress"? A beautiful, old building replaced by THAT? And those other, smaller ones, too? Where is the shame?

Ugh...Not an improvement.

Such a beautiful building renovated to oblivion. At least the structure to the left of it still retains some of its dignity and charm.

1514 H Today

Strolling Ghost

Maybe the strolling ghost first met his fate when he took a nasty fall over the carelessly parked bicycle by the entrance to the Wilkins Building.

Wilkins Building

Wilkins Skyscraper Ready

Newest Office Structure to be Thrown Open Within Two Weeks

Washington's newest skyscraper, the Wilkins building, in H street, west of Fifteenth street northwest, is practically completed, and will be open for tenancy within the next two weeks. The building is a notable addition to the city's growing financial district, and its completion marks an important advance in that neighborhood.

The Wilkins building represents an investment of $200,000. It is a nine-story structure, constructed of brick and limestone, and combines all the features of a modern fireproof office building.The front is of ornamental limestone, with a cornice roof. Extending from the ground to the third floor are two massive limestone columns.

The building has 96 rooms, which can be arranged single or en suite. On the ground floor are two storerooms, separated by a wide corridor. Each room has a vault, washstand, and wardrobe. The interior is finished in mahogany. Two fast electric elevators have been installed, and in addition there is a freight lift.

John. F. and Robert C. Wilkins are the owners. The construction work was done by the Wells Bros., of New York, after plans prepared by J.H. de Sibour, architect of the Hibbs building. Many reservations for office space have been made, and it is expected that the first tenants will move in about March 1.

Washington Post, Feb 18, 1912


Government Buys Wilkins Building

$500,000 paid for Property;
Will be Occupied by Veterans Bureau

Acquisition of the Wilkins Building, nine-story stone office structure at 1512-1514 H street northwest, by the Government, at a reported consideration of $500,000, was announced yesterday by the Treasury Department. The purchase is believed to be a step in the eventual occupation of the site of this building, the Belasco Theater and Cosmos Club for expansion of the Treasury Annex at Pennsylvania avenue and Madison Place northwest. Temporarily, the newly acquired building will house certain United States Veterans Administration activities, it is expected. ...

Washington Post, Feb 7, 1932

Reflecting...

The reflections in the windows of the Wilkins Bvilding are really interesting.

 
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