The Navy Yard Car Barn was the terminus point of the city’s first streetcar line, which ran along Pennsylvania Avenue from Georgetown to the Navy Yard. Designed by Walter C. Root (1859-1925) in 1891, the sprawling Romanesque Revival building is well known for its picturesque castellated corners, which mimic a medieval castle. In 1909, the building expanded to fill the western half of the block with a one-story addition. It was not as stylistically ornate, but the addition mimicked the original design.
DC’s streetcar service ended in 1962 and several retired streetcars were stored in the Navy Yard Car Barn. The tracks were paved over in 1963 and the building was later sold. The United States Department of Labor leased the building and used it to store records until the mid-1970s, until it was abandoned. In the 1990s, the building was redeveloped for commercial use and painted bright blue. When the building was sold to a new developer in 2005, the building housed three DC Public Charter Schools. In 2014, the National Community Church purchased the property.
The Navy Yard Car Barn is the only Washington and Georgetown Railroad Company building to survive from the cable car era, and one of the city’s few surviving streetcar facilities. The car barn is a reminder of the Navy Yard’s importance as a place of local employment and of the streetcar system’s profound influence on the city’s development.
DC Inventory: March 23, 2006
National Register: November 14, 2006