In the final years of the 19th century, the construction of the Lafayette in 1898 marked a shift in Washingtonians' housing needs. While it only held twelve units, comparatively small to future apartment buildings, the Lafayette's conventional low-rise structure was new to the city, and not greatly accepted amongst residents. Meant for middle-class residents living in the city, the Queen Anne architecture blended style and purpose into the building, hoping to attract more potential residents toward apartment living. As part of the earliest waves of apartment building construction, the Lafayette had the large task of moving Washingtonians toward apartment living over single-family homes, which was not an easy or quick transition for many.
Designed by George S. Cooper, a native Washingtonian himself, the building stands as a testament to the future of housing within the city and the growth that D.C. would undergo throughout the twentieth century. Cooper would also incorporate similar design elements to other buildings he worked on, and was the first architect in D.C. to duplicate designs for apartment buildings at the Gladstone and the Hawarden. While the Lafayette has a unique design, its construction and endurance in the city shaped the future acceptance of apartment living.
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 Conventional Low-Rise apartment building.