The Olympia reflects the earliest era of apartment building construction in Columbia Heights.
Built in 1898, the Olympia is the only remaining apartment house from the first wave of construction along upper Fourteenth Street NW in Columbia Heights, spurred by the opening of the electric streetcar line in 1892. As is typical of most late-nineteenth century apartment buildings, Olympia Flats, its historic name, was designed with special amenities for its residents. The building included a billiard room, a barber shop, storerooms, laundry and bicycle rooms in the basement, a coat room, a large public parlor, reading rooms, and a café on the first floor. In addition to the amenities, the building was constructed to provide ample light into each unit, as well as an early air circulation system.
With the new convenience of public transit uptown, the Olympia and surrounding buildings created the city’s first apartment corridor. Stylistically, the Olympia is notable as a transitional mixture of Victorian and Beaux Arts designs, reflecting the period from about 1895 to 1905 when monumental classicism again became popular in D.C.. In architect Albert B. Morgan’s design, the classical facade was also supported by fireproofing within the building, making it aesthetically pleasing and safer for residents.
DC Inventory: February 28, 2002
National Register: June 9, 2003
This site is a stop on the D.C. Apartment Buildings tour as an example of a Conventional Mid-Rise apartment building.