Recognized as the first shopping center in DC and one of the first in the region, the Cleveland Park Park n’ Shop (now named Sam’s Park n’ Shop) exemplifies the city’s shopping trends, architecture, and the needs of a residential neighborhood. Opening on Connecticut Avenue NW in 1930, the shopping center’s design and the stores within it have reflected the neighborhood for almost a century. Architect Arthur B. Heaton designed the Colonial Revival style building with its residential shoppers in mind, while matching the neighborhood’s aesthetic.
The shopping center’s original configuration housed ten separate storefronts in an L-shaped building. Strategically located and purposefully placed in the Cleveland Park commercial strip, developers had planned for contained commercial development in this area. The shopping center also supported shoppers’ needs by combining grocery and retail storefronts with a car service center in the same plaza, which included a gas station and car wash. This construction became the blueprint for other shopping centers in the city and region, such as the Spring Valley Shopping Center.
The shopping center’s stores were not the only feature to cater to the local neighborhood; the off-street parking lot, facing Connecticut Avenue, amplified convenience for the stores’ shoppers. Because more and more families increasingly used automobiles to get from one place to another, the need for an off-street parking lot shows the attention to detail that developers and architects had for the future of shopping. The Park and n’ Shop would become one of the first of many shopping centers that utilized this layout both in DC and throughout the country.
While ownership of the shopping center has changed, the stores within it continue to serve the needs of Cleveland Park’s residents. The original gas station has since been removed for additional parking spaces, and some of the storefronts have combined to offer bigger interior square footage. The shopping center received additional extensions on its southern end in 1991.
Within Cleveland Park Historic District
This site is a stop on the "Finding Style in DC: Navigating DC’s Shopping Scene" tour.