The Yale Steam Laundry building housed the main offices and central plant of one of the handful of laundry companies that once dominated the industry in Washington. Such “power” laundries were high-volume mechanized operations catering primarily to hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, and employing several thousand workers, many of them women. Founded in 1885, the business was sold to the Liberty Laundry Company in 1917, but continued to operate until 1976 under the Yale name.
The original structure, built in 1902, housed the washing and dry cleaning equipment, presses, and hand finishing rooms in a vertically organized operation that moved laundry from the bottom of the building to the top. The garage, built in 1919, provided space for trucks as well as for stables, feed, and wagons. The 1924 addition housed newer machinery in a more modern, horizontally organized operation.
The main building is three stories, steel-framed, with facades of limestone and red brick, in Italian Renaissance Revival style with Georgian Revival windows and detailing (Thomas Francis, Jr., architect). Of particular note are the corbelled smokestack and the large molded brick sign in the frieze. The garage is two stories, concrete-framed with large multi-light industrial windows and red brick facade; the utilitarian addition is similar (both A.B. Mullett & Company, architect).
DC Inventory: December 17, 1998
National Register: March 18, 1999
Within Mount Vernon Square Historic District