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Genevieve Hendricks, Decorator

Genevieve Hendricks, Decorator

Washington, D.C., circa 1920s. "Hendricks Studio, exterior." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Aunt Gen

Say, does anyone know who owns this building today? Assuming it is still in existence. I would love to see it. I loved this blog. Thank you! I learned a lot of things I did not know about my great-aunt, Genevieve Hendricks.

[As noted below, the address was 1747 K St N.W. - Dave]

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People are Building for Today

Washington Post, Nov 13, 1953

Designer Says:

U.S. Leads in Interior Decoration

While the trend in private home decorating is away from the museum house designed with eyes fixed firmly on posterity, the fashion in embassy interiors is still determinedly traditional, says Washington decorator Genevieve Hendricks.

Miss Hendricks, who has decorated a number of United States embassies, foreign embassies in Washington, and even the lounge of a warship, addressed fellow members of the Arts Club of Washington recently.

She finds, she said, that just as the official languages of the diplomatic world are still French and English, their furnishings are still predominantly Louis Quatorze or Seize, or eighteenth century English.

"By contrast, a great deal of contemporary home building and decoration shows evidence that people are building for today," she said, "and they reflect the movement in home entertaining. Homes have become places for the whole family and picnic is giving way to the barbecue in the back yard."

Trends in home decorating show a new spirit of adventure and independence, a willingness to experiment with the best of the materials and designing ideas, and the best of the natural materials, she added.

Miss Hendricks, who has studied architecture and design at American art institutions, the School of Fine Arts in Paris and the Max Reinhardt School of State Designs in Munich, travels continually to Europe in search of ideas and antiques. But said she: "There is no question that America leads the world in interior design."

Remodeled Federal House

Whoops! In my previous post I stated that the double front entrance appeared to be original. A closer examination of the brickwork on the right shows clearly that the narrow staircase and the ground floor and porch entrances on the far right were later additions. The three-light transom windows over the original main entrance door and the added third-floor entrance to its right don't quite match, and the lintel above the doors has been faced with a painted board to help disguise the change. That leaves us without an original front entrance to the ground floor, but that could have been around the corner in the narrow passage between the house and the lot next door. So much for the house having held a ground floor shop, but many did.

Federal Period House

The very plain style and layout of this modest little house suggests that it was built during the Federal period, 1790-1830. The six-over-six double-hung sash windows with plain, flat lintels, and the slightly sloped flat roof behind a low and minimal cornice are commonly seen features on lesser examples of the style. The double entrance with a very narrow stair to the upstairs unit is probably original. Typically, the below-grade ground floor would have held a commercial shop, with another shop and/or two residential flats above it. Renewed popular interest in the Federal style was high in the 1920s, and a restored Federal row house would have been a stylish choice for interior designers. The settee under the porch, probably part of Mrs. Smith's stock, is itself Federal, and was a bit more than a hundred years old when the photo was taken.

Fire Insurance Mark

As other commentators have pointed out, the plaque above the door is for the Fire Insurance Company and, being long out-of-date, was probably applied as a decoration. More info on these types of "Fire Marks" is here, here and here.

I would guess the house itself dates from circa 1870: it was listed for resale in 1884. Based on the style of brickwork, the houses on either side are newer.

Women's Business District

A building full of business run by individual female proprietors. Interesting for time when it was shocking for a woman to wear pants.

Questions, questions

Stanton-square, you are a veritable research genius. Would you happen to recognize the plaque which is mounted above the far right door. It seems to read FIO 9, and has what appears to be an early version of a fire truck embossed upon it. I seem to recall from Shorpy photos of NYC an explanation that early fire protection was provided on an individual basis which was paid by a property owner directly. Might this plaque be a way to designate a covered property in a similar arrangement in DC?

This house itself is quite question provoking. It looks as if it was built in between two existing structures as kind of a latter day fill in project. Much like that miniature town house that we saw a while back that was built in something like a 6 foot gap between two older buildings.

I do enjoy all the background information you bring to these marvelous archival photos.

Door #2

The door on the right and all the brick above aren't original to the house.

A Looker

Is that Mrs. Smith in the window?

1747 K St N.W.

I'm pretty sure the pictured building is 1747 K St N.W., established as a studio by Miss Hendricks in 1926 (the 1926 date based on the following article: according to her 1976 obituary Miss Hendricks established offices here in 1930). Her obituary additionally states she was born in Seattle, graduated from University of Wisconsin, and arrived in D.C. in 1918. Her clients included Lyndon B. Johnson, Eleanor (Cissy) Patterson, Polly Guggenhiem Logan and Dean Acheson. She was a founder of the American Institute of Decorators and served as president of its D.C. chapter.

Washington Post, Jun 27, 1924

Dead Horse is Removed;
Lo -- a Charming Garden

Butchers Took Away a Tremendous Tree Stump, Then After Hard Work and Applied Intelligence Miss Hendricks Had Beauty in Back Yard.

By Helen Fetter Cook

If you have stubborn tree-stump or a dead horse in your back yard, ask Genevieve Hendricks what to do about it. She knows. This young Washington interior decorator, whose professional work has attracted National attention, found both these things in the back yard of 1747 K street northwest when she bought that quaint little red brick house for her studio eight years ago.

She had anticipated piles of tin-cans and other trash which she found in a 5-foot deep layer of this particular back yard. But she was surprised and somewhat disconcerted to find a dead horse. She was relieved, too, for the horse had been dead some time and finding him solved a problem which had puzzled her nose. Her first speedy step was to call the dead animal wagon.

Once the horse was out of the way, the next problem was the tree stump. It was huge, said to the the stump of the largest oak that ever dropped acorns on Washington soil. Its sprawling roots dug tenacious fingers deep into the earth.

Miss Hendricks admits this gave her considerable thought. After bothering her fluffy blonde head over if for some time she telephoned several blasting concerns for estimates. They all ran into considerable money. She was spending a lot as it was rejuvenating the house and had little to put into fixing the garden. Suddenly a real idea flashed. Butchers like tree stumps -- especially grand big oak ones! She's advertise. The ad read something like this:

"Anyone who can use big oak tree stump may have it if he will dig it up and cart it away."

Eight butchers answered the next day. Two who got there first, simultaneously, split the stump between them and, as far as Miss Hendricks was concerned, that was that.

Interior Decorator?

Good thing shes an interior decorator, the exterior sure is sparse. And hello to Mrs Frank Smith in the window.

Joe from LI, NY


I see you Mrs Smith.


I guess Genevieve is only an interior decorator as she would have probably noticed her crooked outdoor light before the photo was taken.


Does anybody know what that plaque marked "F I Co." above the second-story door means? I've seen many similar plaques in other old towns, but I never found out what they were for.

Tsk, tsk

From a 1968 Time magazine article about interior decoration:
"What if the client insists on selecting something in atrocious taste? Some decorators refuse to buy the offending object, though few go as far as Lady Bird Johnson's favorite designer, Washington's Genevieve Hendricks. When she is overruled, she likes to preserve her integrity by pinning a note to the underside of the disputed chair or sofa stating, 'I, Genevieve Hendricks, do not approve this piece of furniture.'"

Age of Building...

I wonder how old that building really is? Not sure what the logo is on the upper right. Looks like a vehicle of some sort.


Whenever I see pics like this - back in the day of real (functional) shutters - I'm always curious why the builders of some buildings decide that shutters are necessary, and others seem say to themselves, "eh, who needs 'em."

Oh, and does anyone know what those circular squiggly metal things are at the foot of those stairs are? I've seen similar things near old buildings before. Are they functional or just decorative?

And heh, that lady for some reason scared the crap out of me when I finally noticed her.

Fire insigna/plaque

I see what appears to be a fire company sign attached to the front of the building. Surely those were no longer in use by the 1920s, so our interior decorator may have attached it as a bit of outdoor decor.

There she is

There she is in the lower left hand window, smiling with approval.

Fire Insurance Sign

Note the 'F.I.Co' (Fire Insurance Company?) sign above the top righthand door with what looks like a fire engine.

Boot scraper

I like the detail in this photo. One thing that jumped out at me was the way the brick joints are failing above each window.

Then I noted the boot scraper near the bottom step. When I was a kid, living out in the country, my grandparents had one by their front door -- not so fancy.

Muddy boots -- not in my house! I heard that more than once as a child. For the adults, it was just part of being polite.

Working Shutters

You don't see these anymore, even in the areas that need them the most.

Hitchcock, anyone?

It calls to mind that courtyard in "Rear Window."

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