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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Coming Soon: 1920

Coming Soon: 1920

Washington, D.C., circa 1920. "Wamsley billboard." While pondering the postworthiness of this moldy old glass negative, I noticed the small sign appended to the big one: "On this site will be the new home of the Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals." And therein lies a tale, having to do with the Chesterfield ad at the far end of the billboard. Which seems to have caused some embarrassment for the temperance board, who owned this property and was profiting from the advertisement for the "weed," despite tobacco being one of the vices it aimed to stamp out. After all that research I still don't know who Wamsley was. National Photo Company glass negative. View full size.

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Behind this billboard

is a motorcycle cop. None of that fancy radar for those guys.

The Quality Goes In Before the Fender Goes On

Those crafty folks from Elgin left a sample fender with their advertisement, so you can examine the quality construction firsthand. Across town at the future site of the American Distillers Association, you'll find a similar billboard with accessory steering wheel and headlamp.

Seen it before

While I was growing up, we had a lot of Mormon farmers in our area who had strict rules about no smoking. Funny thing was they also grew tobacco.

Friends of the "Weed"

This corner, First and Maryland N.E., is still occupied by the Methodist Church. It's a funny little triangular block on Capitol Hill which survives as private property despite the expansion/encroachment of Federal buildings (Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Congressional office buildings.)

Washington Post, Feb 22, 1920

Cigarette Poster on Methodest Sign

But Board of Temperance and Morals Will Not Break Contract.

The board of temperance, morals, and prohibition of the Methodist Episcopal Church has not placed its stamp of approval on tobacco in any form, and yet a sign board bearing the advertisement of a popular brand of cigarette graces the lot owned by the board at First street and Maryland avenue northeast. The company having this posting privilege, it is said, pays the board an annual rental for it. And all of this leads friends of the "weed" to charge that in a roundabout way these enemies of cigarettes are receiving and income from an advertisement of them.

In explaining what must be an embarrassing position for the board, the Rev. Clarence True Wilson, general secretary, said that when the board purchased the property, which is just opposite the Capitol grounds, it also took over a contract for the former property owner which already was in force with the billboard people. This was necessary, he said, in order to obtain the property, which is to be the site of the board's headquarters. However the contract expires soon and Dr. Wilson declared that the cigarette advertisement would then come down.

Despite the fact that the board has disclaimed any intention of asking for a constitutional amendment prohibiting tobacco, before-mentioned friends of the "weed" are positive that the board is carrying on a campaign of nation-wide propaganda against the "nicotine evil."

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Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals

I bet they threw quite a housewarming party when the building went up. Ice water, sheet cake and who knows what else.

The Methodist Building

The Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Avenue NE

This prominent Capitol Hill location, across the street from the Supreme Court, was built by the Methodist Board of Temperance, Prohibition and Public Morals in 1923. The message was clear: the Methodists wanted to remind Congress and the courts that Prohibition was the law of the land. The board disbanded in the 1950s, and the building is now home to the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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