The lumber warehouse of the George M. Barker Company was constructed in 1906 to supplement its 35-year-old location at 649-51 New York Avenue. The company’s founder, a New Hampshire-born carpenter, opened his first millwork establishment in downtown just after the Civil War. After his death in 1889, the business passed to his wife, and then to his sons and his daughter, Flora Welch, who commissioned the construction of the new building. Arthur M. Poynton, a construction superintendent for the D.C. Inspector of Buildings, designed the warehouse and presumably oversaw the construction. The significance of the Barker lumber warehouse lies in its scarcity as a reminder of largely vanished kind of building and economy. In a city that was never strongly industrial, working buildings were needed mainly for production and refinement of articles and foodstuffs for local consumption, as well as for the storage of goods made elsewhere. As a result, small workshops and storage yards were scattered along streets and alleys throughout the city where they would be proximate both to customers and housing for employees. The Barker lumber warehouse recalls the fine-grained mixture of uses once found in the city’s urban neighborhoods, especially in the days before zoning. The two-story brick building with heavy timber framing is an excellent and evocative example of its type. Its brick and terra cotta facade now dominates the block, but originally stood cheek by jowl with stores, rowhouses, and a theater. The central entry and loft door suggest their former use for loading delivery trucks and wagons.
DC designation: May 22, 2008
National Register listing: August 26, 2008