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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Capital Awning: 1926

Capital Awning: 1926

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Capital Awning Company -- Ford Motor Co." National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Tin Pan Alley

Nice to see EvRuss' personal connection posted here, thanks!

I have to wonder, based on Hoperu's observation, whether the space between the Awning company building and the residences was called "Tin Pan Alley."

This was my grandfather's business

And he was also my namesake, having died just one day less than a year before I was born in 1947. At the time this picture was supposedly taken (1926) my father would have been 6 years old. I too go by "Wm. E. Russell," which is seen on the driver's door of the truck/van. My first "real paying" job was working at the Capital Awning Co., for 3 summers, directly out of high school, and while in college. Following my grandfather's death in 1946, my uncle became manager and ran the company while my grandmother was president. My father had little interest in "the family business". Identified as the "Window Shade Department," it's more likely venetian blinds, or possibly shades that the workers are handling.

In addition to awnings (residential and commercial) the company also provided massive party tents with flooring and heat (in winter) and did so for Washington's elite, including the Kennedys (JFK) in the backyard of their Georgetown house.

Sadly, with the advent of air conditioning and the increasing cost of awnings, the company went out of business in the early-to mid-80s. Prior to the expansive use of air conditioning, all of the grand apartment buildings' windows had awnings.

I certainly didn't wear a suit when I worked there.

My older sister and I are the only remaining descendants, along with her daughter, my niece. This is the first time I have ever done a Google search on "The Capital Awning Company, Washington, DC," and is how I found this picture. What a delight!

Just sayin'

Are both of the houses really 2 stories?
The house on the right (83?) has a ~10' "antenna" on the front left. Any idea its purpose?

[The house on the right is farther from the street. - tterrace]

Not the cheapest

While the central office of the Capital Awning Company was at 1503 N. Capitol St., the Window Shade Dept. was located elsewhere. (Buildings of this vintage survive in the 1500 block of N. Capitol street but none match the one shown here.) I love the line, "Our customers talk loudly for us."

Classified Ad, Washington Post, Jan 13, 1915

Window Shades

Our awnings are made to last longer and guaranteed. Not the cheapest, but the best; a few cents more. Head rods strongly made; fast colors; prompt service; courteous treatment. Order now; no money required until delivery. Our customers talk loudly for us. Capitol Awning Company, 1503 North Capitol st. Phone North 2959.

Awnings Complete the Home


Was the driver ...

a blind man??

Yuk yuk.

Colorful flivver

I couldn't help making a drawing of that old Model T and give it some color. I liked the results so much I thought I'd share it here. Hope you like it.

P.S.: No original photograph was injured in the making of this drawing.

Nice van

A Flivver with disc wheels is rare enough, but check out the decoration on the sides! Looks like a very colorful jalopy to me, complete with painted trees under the "windows"!

Also notice the useless but very decorative bows over the oval windows on the sides and the rear doors, and the way the curved reinforcing members add to the effect of the painted sides; it doesn't take much effort to imagine those are a fence in front of those brightly painted windows and trees.

If there's an old car I'd like to see in full color, it would definitely be this one!

Faux Windows

Funny how the windows painted on the side of the truck are almost the right location and proportion for the front of the building.


The well-dressed gent on the right appears to be the thrifty type judging by the rubbers over his shoes. The practice is not unknown to me.

Shady is right

It looks like they're loading bodies instead of awnings. With a few more under the blankets in the vacant lot.

Off Kilter

The little house on the right appears to have some serious foundation issues, or maybe the builder had one leg shorter than the other.

Dig the mural on the truck. And so began the whole '70s van craze.

Wash tubs

It is interesting to see that each of the apartments to the left have their own galvanized wash tubs hanging on the porches. Guess I never thought about where people would have done their laundry in those days!

And look at how dressed up the delivery men are! Thanks for all these great images that really give us a real sense of history.

Awning department

could probably be found on Shady Lane.

My childhood home had a big front porch and my parents bought awnings for all three sides of it. It was great to sit out there during a summer thunderstorm.

Division of Labor

I wonder where the other departments are located, and what they were. Was there an awning department? Seems like there should be.

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