The Financial Historic District is a linear district of monumental Beaux-Arts Classicist commercial buildings along Fifteenth Street NW, from Pennsylvania Avenue to K Street and McPherson Square. Located on an axis with the U.S. Treasury Building, the exceptional quality of the design of these buildings is inspired by that of the Treasury, as well as by the City Beautiful movement and urban planning implemented by the McMillan Commission. The commission influenced the design of the public areas of the city during the same period (1900-1930) in which most of the district's buildings were erected. A very high concentration of the leading financial institutions of the District of Columbia, as well as financially-related offices, are housed within the district.
The Beaux-Arts architecture so prevalent in this historic district represented the idealism and cosmopolitanism of the moneyed class. The careful composition of the structure and the use of Classical fragments were based on Classical inspiration that turn-of-the century Americans thought orderly, cultured, and scholarly. These qualities and the monumental scale, which tended to disregard humans in favor of larger vistas and effects, were embraced by men in power and in office for public architecture, for their own homes, and, in this case, for their private office buildings.
The Financial Historic District includes 20 contributing buildings, built between 1835 and 1940. Some of the contributing buildings include the National Savings and Trust Company, the Southern Building, the Wire Building, and the Woodward Office Building, among many others. Built to house many of the city’s prominent financial institutions and businesses, these structures all added to the economic growth of DC throughout the 19th and early 20th century.
DC Inventory (as Fifteenth Street Financial Historic District): July 31, 1981 (effective October 5, 1984); boundary increase and renamed Financial Historic District on July 28, 2016
National Register (as Fifteenth Street Financial Historic District): October 12, 2006; boundary increase and renamed Financial Historic District on January 12, 2017