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Old Posted May 8, 2010, 4:58 AM
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manfire manfire is offline
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Arrow WASHINGTON DC rehab in the 2000s: 900s F St NW, old 9:30 Club (21 pix, 1921-present)

The south side of the 900 block of F Street NW in DC is one of many in old downtown DC to have been gut-rehabbed with old façades repurposed as the fronts of newfangled office buildings. In the 1980s and 1990s it was a much grittier affair, but it boasted two notable Richardsonian Romanesque historic properties -- the Atlantic Building (928-923 F Street, James Hill Green, 1887-1888) and the National Union Building (918 F Street NW, Glenn Brown, 1890) -- among others on the block. Meanwhile, right around the corner on 10th Street is Ford's Theatre, the very same place where President Abraham Lincoln was fatally shot in the 1860s.

the Library of Congress on the Atlantic Building:

Significance: When the Atlantic Building was completed in 1888, it was the largest commercial structure in the city and one of the first with a passenger elevator. The speculative office building was designed by James Hill Green, who had served as supervising architect of the U.S. Treasury and was the designer, as well, of numerous fine private buildings in Washington. The eight-story Atlantic is noted as one of the last "skyscraper" buildings to be constructed with load-bearing masonry walls. The eight story features two large assembly rooms, the location of numerous important public meetings, including one at which the National Zoo was founded. In 1890, this top floor served as headquarters for President Benjamin Harrison's inaugural committee.
the Library of Congress on the National Union Building:

Significance: The National Union building is a red brick and stone office building in continuous use since its construction in 1890 Its architecture reflects aspects of the Richardsonian Romanesque and Queen Anne styles. It was designed by Glenn Brown, a prominent Washington D.C. architect. The building is structurally sound and the exterior is in generally good condition.
Of course, us old DC hands remember 930 F Street (the main entrance of the Atlantic Building) as the original location of the 9:30 Club, which opened 30 years ago -- May 31, 1980 -- and nurtured the original DC punk scene that produced bands like Minor Threat, Fugazi, and Jawbox in the 1980s-1990s and later became a hotbed of what was called "alternative music" prior to moving north to the former V Street location of WUST Radio Music Hall, another classic DC music venue. Today the 9:30 perennially tops the list of biggest-drawing music clubs in the country.


(That's Ian MacKaye, later of Fugazi, in the foreground. Promotional cover from Southern Records)

~~~~~ flash back to 1921 ~~~~~~

Busy shopping entertainment district, including the Atlantic Building, where the 9:30 club later went in; it and the two buildings left of it have had their façades preserved, while the Metropolitan Theater bit the dust a few decades after this photo was taken:

Closeup of the Atlantic Building entrance in 1921. There's a shoe store on the left, a harbinger of things to come in the 1980s and 1990s...

(see gigantic version of the above at the shorpy.com archive)

~~~~~ the years go by and 1988 arrives ~~~~~

With downtown DC on the downturn like so many American urban cores, 930 F Street nonetheless attracts a contingent of punk rockers each evening to its rock club with artist spaces above. Prior to the opening of the 9:30 Club at the beginning of the 1980s, the ground floor of the Atlantic Building contained a more glam-rock-oriented club called Atlantis, and one of the 9:30's founders' friends lived on an upper floor. (photo taken March 17, 1988, by Charles K. Crockett, and featured in the Washington Post multimedia show above)

Much of the rest of the block was in the 1990s the place to go to buy shoes! See this Library of Congress photo of the western half of the block, showing the same buildings as in the 1921 photo above, 1990; Cobb's on the left is on the ground floor of the National Union Building, while a "Food" sign graces the Atlantic Building on the right

entire south frontage of the 900 block, 1990

most of these façades are still there after various sorts of rehab:

(three above photos plus six more can be found at this page at the Library of Congress Historic American Buildings Survey)

These five black & white Atlantic Building photos taken January 1990 are also from Historic American Buildings Survey:

main entrance to building, with 9:30 Club glass sign over main door

9:30 Club performance space, with the building's cast-iron columns visible

full front elevation of building

interior stairs

artists' space at the rear of the 8th floor

go here to see eight more Atlantic Building photos from the above Library of Congress survey

In 1995 things were still looking seedy and gritty -- the National Union Building is the tall building in the middle, while the side of the Atlantic Building is looming in the background on the right. The two-story building with the luggage shop has since been replaced by part of a glitzy new office building. (Photo by flickr user kinorama)

shortly before the gut rehab started in 2005 (photo by IntangibleArts on flickr)

façades of the Atlantic Building and its three neighbors from behind, during the gut rehab (posted by "Anonymous Tipster" on the above shorpy.com page)

2005: both sides of the block under reconstruction (photo by flickr user sarakass)

same four buildings (original Atlantic Building on the right) after the gut rehab, now united into one building with four old façades; the entire building has been named the "Atlantic Building" in honor of the original (promotional illustration from Bernstein Cos. commercial realty)

the newly united Atlantic Building from the street (photo by flickr user army_arch)

that doorway again (photo by flickr user Uncle from MAN)

National Union Building after its own rehab, and replacement of the little building that was next door in 1995; on the right is part of the new Atlantic Building (photo by flickr user army_arch)

Finally, here's an overview of the entire block today, illustrated by me using an aerial from Bing Maps:

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Old Posted Aug 17, 2010, 6:01 PM
Cirrus's Avatar
Cirrus Cirrus is offline
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Cool. Thanks for the photos.
BeyondDC: blog | twitter | flickr | instagram | Exploring urbanism and transportation in the Washington, DC area.
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