Item Details

Washington's Apartment Building Tradition: Capitol Hill 1900-1914

Wallace, Katherine
Thesis/Dissertation; Online
Wallace, Katherine
Wilson, Richard Guy
WASHINGTON’S APARTMENT BUILDING TRADITION: CAPITOL HILL 1900-1914 Katherine Wallace Department of Architectural History, School of Architecture, University of Virginia April 2016 Washington D.C. is a capital city filled with monuments, museums, and government buildings. Depictions of Washington typically only feature the downtown Mall, stopping short of the residential urban fabric sprawling away from the city’s ceremonial center. A more comprehensive view of Washington can be found in the vibrant communities where local residents have lived since the city’s founding over two centuries ago. Neighborhoods tucked away from the heavily visited and trafficked core of the city claim a high degree of architectural integrity and also serve as evidence of D.C.’s distinct housing history. In existing architectural literature on residential Washington, the row house is emphasized as the city’s most iconic domestic structure. Yet it is little known that Washington boasts a rich history of multi-unit apartment style living. Washington’s apartment buildings are uncommon but worthwhile subjects of study. Due to the lack of scholarly focus on apartment living in D.C., particularly beyond the city’s historically affluent and homogenous Northwest quadrant, this thesis expands the geographic area of study to include Capitol Hill. As one of the city’s most historic residential neighborhoods, this traditionally diverse and working class community straddles Washington’s Northeast and Southeast quadrants. In the shadow of the Capitol Building and Library of Congress, East of the Senate Houses and Supreme Court, the neighborhood includes thousands of historic buildings; Several of these structures are early twentieth century apartments that had never before been surveyed, photographed or published. This thesis considers the historical influences and rich tradition of apartment living in Washington while specifically featuring Capitol Hill’s overlooked early twentieth century Beaux Arts apartments. Drawing on luxurious design elements seen in Northwest Washington, but scaling them appropriately for the comparatively modest and traditional streetscape of Capitol Hill, architects employed a typological architectural language: symmetrical facades with rusticated ground levels, stacked bay windows, tripartite definition, and heavily corniced rooflines. Distinctly ornamented and larger in scale than the neighboring Victorian row houses, early twentieth century apartments permanently impacted the residential fabric of Capitol Hill.
Date Received
University of Virginia, Department of Architectural History, MARH (Master of Architectural History), 2016
Published Date
MARH (Master of Architectural History)
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