Hill Building

839 17th Street, NW

The Hill Building, named for developer William A. Hill, is a multi-story commercial office building located on the southeast corner of 17th and I Streets, N.W., on the south side of Farragut Square. Constructed in 1925-1926, the smooth-faced limestone building features the standard early 20th-century, three-part office building form of base, middle and cap. The building was historically ten stories tall, but now rises to eleven stories since a contemporary rooftop addition was built flush with the original building in the 1990s.

At the time of the Hill building’s construction in 1925-1926, commercial real estate development in downtown D.C. was highly active as the city’s business and retail industry expanded, replacing Victorian and pre-Victorian residential buildings. These former residences, many of which then housed private and governmental business offices, no longer provided adequate space and, more importantly, did not embody the physical characteristics of a 20th-century city. The tall Hill Building office building, designed in a “modern” stripped Classical style, was, like others rising around downtown, the product of a deliberate effort by the city’s real estate industry to create a more physically elegant city that was commensurate with the nation’s capital. The Hill Building and the Barr Building at 914 17th Street (1926-1928) were the first office buildings on Farragut Square to follow the trend. Later, especially during the late 1950s and 1960s, many of these 1920s office buildings were in turn demolished. The Hill Building survives as an important representation of the transition from residential to business district in the city’s downtown.

DC designation: December 18, 2014

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839 17th Street, NW