Garfinckel’s Department Store, designed in 1929 by the New York architecture firm of Starrett and Van Vleck, is an excellent example of a 1920s department store. By 1928, founder Julius Garfinckel (1872-1936) was the leading clothier in Washington, operating out of a complex of buildings at the corner of Thirteenth and F Streets NW. In that year, he announced that a nine-story building would be designed to contain all of the store’s departments under one roof. The building was prominently sited here, on the northwest corner of the intersection of Fourteenth and F Streets NW.
More than any other retail establishment or retailer in the city, Garfinckel’s Department Store and its founder Julius Garfinckel became synonymous with top-quality merchandise and attentive customer service. Garfinckel’s Department Store set the tone for all other Washington clothing retailers, and was influential in shaping the city’s retail core.
Garfinckel made important contributions to the city’s retail and economic development through his major chain of department stores, setting the tone for style and sophistication in DC for eighty years. While no longer a department store, the building remains an important anchor of the city’s downtown retail core.
DC Inventory: February 17, 1988
National Register: April 4, 1995