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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Moses and Sons: 1923

Moses and Sons: 1923

Washington, D.C., 1923. "W.B. Moses & Sons, F and 11th Sts." Note the unusual circular windows at the top of the building. National Photo Co. View full size.

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"Ask The Man Who Owns One" (or Two)

The two trucks on the far right are Packards.

The truck with license plate "36 205" is a circa 1913 model and the truck with license plate "36 204" is a circa 1911 model.

The primary identifying feature is the radiator grille which is a widened version of what was used on Packard passenger cars starting in 1905.

Packard trucks were made from 1905 - 1923. In 1912 a Packard truck carrying 3 tons was driven from New York to San Francisco in 46 days (July 8th to August 24th).

Many of Packard's large automobile chassis were also used for commercial purposes such as hearses and ambulances. These commercial auto chassis were available well into the 1950s. Packard's automobiles were made from 1899 - 1958.


Below is the view of 11th Street looking south from F Street taken in April of 2010. The Hotel Harrington can still be seen in the distance on the corner of E Street.

Moses Material

I have found a beautiful piece of cloth in my aunt's belongings, with a store tag pinned to the cloth -- "W.B. Moses & Sons, Washington D.C." It is the most exquisite, and very dense piece of red velvet, with a price tag of seventy-five cents. I believe the cloth belonged to her mother who took this cloth to China and back to the U.S. somewhere around 1920. I can’t imagine the price it would bring today. It would have been nicer that it was a piece of furniture but I am happy to have the cloth. The store must have been grand.

Moses Closes

W.B. Moses & Son closed up in 1935. Press accounts in May 1935 indicate the store is still open. However, on September 29, 1935, an article in the Washington Post reports the former site of W.B. Moses & Son at Eleventh and F has been leased as office space. A few ads in early 1936 announce the auction of oriental rugs: "Balance of the former stock of W.B. Moses & Son"


I actually just inherited a piece of furniture with a label on the back saying W.B. Moses and Sons Washington D.C. Causing me to google the name. I am trying to find out approximately how old the piece is. Any Ideas when this store closed its doors?

W.B. Moses & Sons

Washington Post, Jan 4, 1914

W.B. Moses & Sons

The History of a Great Washington
Business Establishment

Although Washington makes no boasts of surpassing the great commercial centers, it should be a matter of no little satisfaction and pride to Washingtonians to know that here in the Capital is located the largest exclusively retail furniture, carpet, and drapery house in America - the widely known establishment of W.B. Moses & Sons.

During the civil war, over fifty years ago, Mr. W.B. Moses, who had for a number of years been engaged in the furniture business in Philadelphia, came to Washington upon the dissolution of the partnership in which he was interested in the Quaker City, and rented a small store on D street, between Sixth and Seventh streets. He had received, as his share of the stock upon dissolution of the Philadelphia firm, about three carloads of furniture, and with this he opened business here. He met with such demand for goods that most of the stock was sold on the pavement before he had time to move it into the store room.

Within a few months he rented the three upper floors of the building at No. 508 Seventh street, and, several months later, he rented the large building at the corner of Seventh and D streets, which he occupied in addition to the other establishment. Meeting with continued success, and his business constantly increasing in great strides, in 1869 he secured the old hotel at the corner of Seventh street and Market space (on the site of the present Saks building) know as the "Avenue House." Here Mr. Moses executed a business innovation which attracted attention over the United States. He fitted up the parlors, libraries, dining rooms, and bed rooms completely, decorating and furnishing them in every detail and particular, and in many different colors and combination of colors, in order that almost any one's taste could be satisfied. As a result of this venture, it was no unusual occasion when a patron would say, "Duplicate this apartment" or "that apartment" - meaning the furnishing of an entire house like the sample shown.

His business continued to improve until, in 1884, he purchased the property at the corner of F and Eleventh streets, and began the construction of the present building, now occupied by W.B. Moses & Sons. This building was started in June, and was open for business in the following October. The architect was Mr. A.B. Mullett, who designed the State, War and Navy building, and Mr. John Howlett was the builder. They built well, and it was said they completed the building in less time than any building of like size had been constructed up to that time. Mr. Moses conceived the practical idea of going two stories underground; and as this was a radical departure for Washington, the citizens, when the observed the great excavation being made, predicted bankruptcy and complete failure for the enterprise, particularly as there was no business to speak of in that day on F street. W.B. Moses & Sons were the pioneers.

Shortly after, through the efforts of Mr. Moses, Woodward & Lothrop removed from Pennsylvania avenue to the present location at the corner of Eleventh and F streets, and property on this short business street has been greatly in demand. In 1884, $2.50 per square foot was the prevailing price; a short time ago a lot 30 by 75 feet, near the Moses building, could not be bought at $90 per square foot.

The original Moses building was seven stories high, with two stories underground making nine stories, and covered a space 50x100 feet. In 1887 an additional piece of property on F street, size 25x100, was secured, and built up seven stories to match the main building. Still another addition was put up on the Eleventh street side 50x100, in 1889, matching the original building. Again and 1898, still another building was put up on the Eleventh street side, 45 feet front; this addition was built up ten stories, and is absolutely fireproof. This later addition to the Moses establishment was designed to accommodate the shops and manufacturing departments of the store.

The present establishment of W.B. Moses & Sons is one of the handsomest and most complete stores of its kind in the United States, and the largest house devoted to the sale of retail furniture, carpets and draperies.

In their factory, which is by far the largest in Washington, there is employed a great force of artisans and skilled workers, cabinet makers, upholsterers, &c. The firm furnishes estimates on furnishings, draperies and decoration, and where desired decorative effects in the color will be designed for the approval of patrons. This branch of the work is in charge of a skilled artist.

One of the store events looked forward to by many thousands of Washington families is the "Annual January Sale," an occasion when prices are quoted which are a genuine surprise, and are away below the real values of the merchandise. This sale is scheduled to begin tomorrow, Monday, January 5th, full details of which will be found in today's papers - Advt.

Top heavy

Those trucks look so top heavy. I bet a lot of them ended up on their sides during this era.

"Fire Escapes"

Those are probably for getting into the building, not out. The ladders are fire-control access to the various floors. There are standpipes on either side with a connection point at each floor and two supply connections at the bottom.


Who did you have to be to get awnings on your windows?

[A shady character? - Dave]

Harrington Hotel

Washington's oldest continuously operating hotel. 436 11th Street N.W. (corner of 11th & E) Opening day: March 1, 1914

Drivers, Take Your Marks

Looks like an old gran prix style race start. Those round windows were the first things I noticed. I believe there was a similar round swiveling window in the attic of the Griswald home in Christmas Vacation. Just a fact taking up space in my brain.

Also notice that long straight-up fire escape. Seems like the stairs type would be safer in a panic situation. There are also flag holders outside many of the windows.

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