The five-story Oriental Building Association building of buff brick and limestone houses a ground floor banking hall and leasable upper floors. A notable work of the German-American architect Albert Goenner, the building is located in the midst of the downtown mercantile neighborhood historically dominated by German-American businesses.
The Oriental Building Association exemplifies the historical importance of immigrant self-help organizations and business relationships. Chartered in 1880, the Association originated as a building and loan association designed to allow small businesses and average savers to pool resources and offer credit. The association’s name suggests that the founders may have been members of a fraternal lodge: at the time of its founding, there was an “Oriental Lodge No. 19” of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows downtown and a Masonic Oriental Lodge in Alexandria. For many years, the officers and directors of the Association were German immigrants; Goenner’s selection as architect undoubtedly reflects his connections within that community. The association occupied its building at 6th and F Streets for nearly a century, and continues in business today as OBA Bank, the oldest savings and loan in the nation.
DC Inventory: February 26, 2004
National Register: September 10, 2004