This warehouse complex is composed of two main buildings: the Schlitz Brewing Company building (1908) on Randolph Place NE (the northern portion of the block) and the National Geographic Society Warehouse (1924) on R Street NE (the southern portion of the block). Two additions were constructed in 1913 and 1920, and a final addition (a garage) was built in 1937.
These buildings illustrate the evolution of the Washington warehouse type, as well as industrial architecture and construction more generally. Following the McMillan Plan of 1902, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was pushed northwards towards Eckington, and the streetcar suburb became a center of industry. In 1920, the neighborhood was zoned for "industrial" use in the city's first zoning code.
Located adjacent to the railyard — and separating the residential portion of Eckington from the railroad tracks — the warehouse complex was a critical link in the distribution of products. Goods arrived from around the nation, via the railroad, and were then transported locally — first by wagon, then by truck. With these innovations in transportation, national brands started to flood the local market.
This commercial development is represented particulary well by Milwaukee-based Schlitz Brewing Company, whose arrival in the city posed a threat to Washington's homegrown brewing industry. This two-story building, designed by Charles L. Lesser of Milwaukee, brings to mind a "brewer's castle." It consists of a steel-frame and concrete-slab structure, as well as load-bearing brick masonry walls, and housed both production and distribution facilities.
DC's National Geographic Society constructed their warehouse with reinforced concrete, brick curtain walls, and multi-light steel sash windows. At four-stories high, the warehouse was multi-purpose, with storage, mailing, subscription, and administrative capabilities. The building was designed by local master architect Arthur B. Heaton, and includes beautiful brick and stone masonry cladding. One of its most notable features is its owl sculptures above the entrance on 3rd Street NE.
DC Inventory: July 28, 2022