The Fifteenth Street Financial Historic District is a linear district of monumental Beaux Arts Classicist commercial buildings notable both individually and as an extraordinarily cohesive ensemble. Located on an axis with the U.S. Treasury, the exceptional quality of the design of these buildings is inspired by that of the U.S. Treasury Building, one of the masterpieces of American architecture as well as by the City Beautiful concept and urban planning being implemented by the McMillan Commission in the public areas of the city during the period (1900-1930) in which most of these buildings were erected. A very high concentration of the leading financial institutions of the District of Columbia as well as financially related offices are housed within the district.
Although there were other styles current during the period of 1900-1930, these buildings nearly all reflect the influence of Beaux-Arts classicism. It was no accident that this style was chosen for so many of the buildings in the Financial Historic District, for Beaux-Arts architecture represented the idealism and cosmopolitanism of the moneyed class. The careful composition of the structure and the use of Classical fragments were based on Classical inspiration that turn-of-the century Americans thought orderly, cultured, and scholarly. These qualities and the monumental scale (not necessarily accompanied by monumental size), which tended to disregard humans in favor of larger vistas and effects, were embraced by men in power and in office for public architecture, for their own homes, and, in this case, for their private office buildings.
The architects who designed the buildings in the district--Daniel H. Burnham, Carrere and Hasting, Jules Henri de Sibour and others- were among the leading experts of Beaux Arts Classicism in this country, significantly influencing architectural design in the District of Columbia and the Nation.
The Fifteenth Street Financial Historic District includes 20 contributing buildings built between 1835 and 1940.
DC designation: July 31, 1981 (effective October 5, 1984)
National Register determination of eligibility: October 18, 1984 (not listed due to owner objection)
National Register listing: October 12, 2006
Financial Historic District expands the Fifteenth St Historic District: July 28, 2016