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12th Precinct: 1923

"G.G. Loehler Co., August 1923." The 12th Precinct police station under construction in Washington at 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue N.E. Cost: $55,376. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

"G.G. Loehler Co., August 1923." The 12th Precinct police station under construction in Washington at 17th Street and Rhode Island Avenue N.E. Cost: $55,376. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Hollow Tile

That's Hollow Tile, kind of a precursor to cinder blocks. Fired out of clay and hollow, they were used in combination with brick to build a load-bearing masonry structure. Grooved so it could accept a plaster finish on the interior face. Fireproofing wasn't the point, although they were certainly fireproof just like brick. Eventually Hollow Tile was supplanted by cinder block construction and brick veneer on a wood stud frame.


They look like fire blocks; at least that's what we call them. In older commercial buildings, the interior walls were laid up with these block, rather than with wood framimg. A fire-spread preventive device which then got a plaster veneer. Simply hell for rewiring/replumbing projects.

Clay Conduit

Looks like terra cotta conduit, used to run wires underground.

What is that

Tapping you guys' knowledge here. The guy on the far right pushing a wheel barrow away from the camera is in front of something stacked up that appears to be sectional square fluted pieces. I cannot figure out what those are. Can any of you I.D. those? Thanks.

[Those are stacked shingles nearest the camera. Behind him it looks like clay conduit, as noted above. - Dave]


Appears that the bars on the ground floor windows were removed at some point in the past...apparently it's a safer neighborhood now than it once was.

[The jail bars were to keep the bad guys in, not out. - Dave]


I have been told that the radiators were usually assembled in place so that only components were moved and not the whole thing. Looks like I've been told wrong.

Additionally, I automatically keep trying to move the original picture around like you do in the Google street view. It doesn't work.

First Booking

Curious to me that back in the day, a speeding offense resulted in a person being arrested and hauled into the police station.

Teacher First Prisoner At New Police Station

The first man booked at the new Twelfth precinct police station was Marion Richard Vickers, 26 years old, a teacher, living at 1625 K street northwest, who was arrested on Rhode Island avenue yesterday afternoon by Motorcycle Policeman K.L. Potts, charged with speeding.

As Potts came through the door of the new station with his prisoner, Policeman John Donovan, at the desk, assumed a business-like air, and then proceeded to write Vickers' name and address on the first line of the first page of the arrest book.

The new station was opened formally in the morning by Maj. Daniel Sullivan, superintendent of police. In the course of the day many men and women, including several members of the Rhode Island Avenue Citizens association, inspected the station.

Washington Post, Jan 2, 1924

The Neighbors

I am really surprised to see that the white house to the right in both pictures is still there. It must have been noisy although they must have felt pretty secure.

Thanks for the modern view.

Thanks for the modern view. Helps explain why the brickwork was left 'unfinished' under the fascia line. They still had some what we today call 'elevation' applications to put on that area. And it looks like they added on to the back later, with a separate entry. I enjoyed roaming over this building site comparing it to how we do things in construction these days.

My First Thought Was

... only the government would spend that kind of money in 1923 on something like that. But it's still there and looking good. Must be one solid structure. I stand corrected.

Free Stuff

The most striking difference to me in this photo from any image of a construction site today is that the contractor was able to stack his building materials along the street side of the lot without protecting them with a chain link fence, razor wire, night lighting and guard dogs from nocturnal "salvage" thieves. Radiators, boiler parts, bricks, roof shingles and more are all just sitting there waiting to be hauled off.

Heavy Metal

The cast iron boiler sections are on the other side of the building.


No prefab walls here.

Stacked Up

Looks like they delivered the radiators early!


On the left a wood barrel is sitting in a pile of cast iron radiators that would presumably be used in this building for heat. If this building is still standing there is a chance the radiators are still in service. We have similar system still in operation on the campus where I work.

And here it is today!

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