Designed by local D.C. architect Louis T. Rouleau, these two buildings reflect the development of residential units on New Hampshire Avenue following World War I. Modest in appearance and created for the rental market, The Hampshire reflects renters’ desires to live close to transportation networks within the District’s expanding residential market. Between 1935 and 1941, sixty percent of the funding for residential housing in D.C. was allocated for the construction of apartment buildings. Many of these buildings incorporated stylistic revival-design elements into their architecture while maintaining a modest appearance of affordability. The Hampshire apartments, two three-story brick building with Tudor Revival style adornments, are emblematic of this interwar architecture.
Located on the west side of New Hampshire Avenue NW in D.C.’s Brightwood neighborhood, the Hampshire offered public transport through streetcar and bus lines that ran alongside the apartment building. This proximity to transportation networks became critical for apartment buildings in the interwar period, as the increasing amount of government workers sought easy access to downtown jobs. Federal employees required affordable rental units for their families, nearby commercial establishments (accessible without an automobile), and transportation corridors—the Hampshire is representative of apartment buildings designed for these new federal workers.
At the time of the Hampshire’s construction, racially-restrictive covenants were common in D.C. and limited housing based on race. While there is no evidence of explicit racial restriction at the Hampshire, the surrounding areas in Brightwood were limited to white residents until a Supreme Court ruling against restrictive covenants in housing in 1948. However, residency at the Hampshire remained 96 percent white from its opening in 1936 until 1960. Within a decade, following the Civil Rights movement and subsequent white flight into the suburbs, the numbers flipped—with 90 percent of the Hampshire being occupied by Black residents.
Today, the buildings continue to operate as an apartment building, offering 53 residential units within walking distance to metro and bus stations.
DC Inventory: December 16, 2021