Samuel Lord and George Washington Taylor are credited with establishing one of the first department stores in the nation, opening their first store in 1825 in Manhattan. Their quick success in New York City throughout the mid-19th century allowed them to expand throughout the state, but it would be the work of Dorothy Shaver that would bring the Lord & Taylor department store chain to Washington, DC. Shaver’s business acumen had brought her to one of the highest positions within the company, and she worked closely with the architects and builders to expand the store to DC.
Completed in 1959, the Lord & Taylor Chevy Chase Branch Store was designed in a Mid-Century Modernist style and had impressive architectural elements meant to showcase the Lord & Taylor identity. The store served as a more exclusive, specialty retailer, similar to Garfinckel’s. Modernism had swept the nation in multiple aspects of life, including store design, as retailers hoped the more minimalist aesthetic would showcase the products more prominently over the store’s interior design.
DC shoppers quickly took to the new retailer because of its contemporary clothing, and the company continued to expand throughout the area, opening other stores in Maryland and Northern Virginia. While the branch store opened after other DC retailers like Woodward & Lothrop, Hecht’s, and Garfinckel’s had opened their branch stores nearby in Spring Valley and Chevy Chase, Lord & Taylor was able to find a place within the market that shoppers enjoyed.
The Chevy Chase store thrived for decades, but unfortunately closed in a recent wave of department store and retail closures that impacted the Friendship Heights area. While Lord & Taylor went bankrupt, closing all of their stores, Friendship Heights faced multiple closures across chains. Multiple stores closed throughout 2020, with Lord & Taylor’s presence ending that year. The building remains unoccupied as of today, with a historic landmark nomination pending.
Pending Historic Landmark Nomination
This site is a stop on the "Finding Style in DC: Navigating DC’s Shopping Scene" tour.