Homestead Apartments

The Homestead Apartments housed DC’s growing working and middle-class in the Brightwood Park neighborhood.

The Homestead Apartments were constructed in 1939, one of many multi-unit buildings erected to house working-class and middle-class Washingtonians during the interwar period. Much of this development followed the streetcar lines radiating from downtown, seeking lower land costs to accommodate a burgeoning labor force. This building was designed by French architect Louis de LaDurantaye (1885-1956). LaDurantaye designed dozens of buildings in the District but is not well known.

Fairly conventional in its H-shape plan and four-story height, the Homestead Apartments has quirky, Gothic/Romanesque decoration in the form of corbeling, round arches, basket-weave brick panels, and peaks on the roofline. There are elements that could be interpreted as Art Deco and Moderne as well, such as a stepped parapet at the central bar and projecting brick streamlining at corners and suggested pavilions, but the streamlining is presumably intended as a modern take on quoins, which picks up the classicism of the most notable exterior element of the building, the Renaissance-style hemi-octagonal entrance bay. 

The most interesting functional element is the basement-level garage reached via openings off a rear alley, and the at-grade garage supports an exterior patio on its roof. The building’s landscape is notable for the intimate courtyard enclosed by the low stone walls punctuated by piers, the taller of which support a wrought-iron arch. These are echoed by stone piers and gates controlling admittance to the side yards. Stone steps stand at the entrance and at the sidewalk, and one of DC’s typical rustic granite retaining wall supports the central portion of the front yard as the land slopes away to the west.

DC Inventory: November 16, 2017
National Register: February 14, 2018



812 Jefferson Street NW