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Harrison Street Apartments Washington, D. C.

  • Year Built: 1936
  • Architect: Appleton P. Clark
  • Built By: Clarence W. Gosnell

Designed by noted architect Appleton Clark, the Harrison Street Apartments originally comprised two blocks of five buildings, each of which contained four apartments, two up and two down.

The buildings had small front lawns and were built in the Spanish Revival style using red brick and stucco cladding with features like arched openings and decorative brick work.

Porches originally were screened. Many of the original ‘back yards’ have been converted to parking space. 

Although they were built by a private owner, the Harrison Street apartments shared the goals of the sanitary housing movement, which was spearheaded by two philanthropic organizations, the Washington Sanitary Improvement Company (WSIC) and Washington Sanitary Housing Company (WSHC), to improve living situations to working class families in neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia. 

The Harrison Street apartments were strategically situated next to the Western Avenue Bus Garage and the no longer extant Tolman Laundry on Wisconsin Avenue, both of which businesses employed workers lower on the pay scale.

At the time they were built, Friendship Heights was growing quickly as farmland underwent suburban subdevelopment.

According to architectural historians Emily Hotaling Eig and Laura Harris Hughes, because they resembled single-family housing this type of apartment was easily integrated into existing residential neighborhoods and “provided hesitant potential occupants with familiar aesthetic standards, making the new form a more satisfactory, and even comfortable choice” in comparison to large apartment buildings.

THS and the DC Preservation League nominated the buildings for inclusion on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites in 2017.  At the time, one of the original buildings had been replaced by condominiums.  The nomination was not successful.  Today, several more of the buildings have been replaced with contemporary condominiums.  Four of the original buildings remain.

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