The Harrison (The Canterbury)

The Harrison is the city's oldest known surviving purpose-built apartment building.

As the oldest surviving example of the first wave of purpose-built apartment buildings, the Harrison's influence on D.C. housing is quite large. While the building has a rowhouse appearance, its Romanesque Revival exterior was meant to attract residents who were hesitant to live in an apartment building, as well as those who did not see apartment-living as socially acceptable. Completed in 1889, the Harrison predates the major transition toward apartment building construction within the city.

While the Harrison was the first apartment building in its neighborhood, the building did not just contain residential units; it was once home to a barber shop and drug store in its street-facing commercial space. Despite name changes from the Harrison, to the Astoria, to the Canterbury as it is now called, as well as an expansion in the twentieth century, its adaptability makes it a staple of how apartment buildings, while initially looked at with suspicion by Washingtonians, were not going anywhere. The combination of a concealed apartment within a rowhouse gave its tenants more flexibility in the aesthetics of homeownership without the major expense.

DC Inventory: January 17, 1990
National Register: September 7, 1994

This site is a stop on the D.C. Apartment Buildings tour as an example of a Rowhouse-type apartment building.



704 3rd Street, NW