The Oswego and the Exeter, built respectively in 1900 and 1904, exemplified early low-rise apartment buildings in the city, as well as an early building commission for their architect, B. Stanley Simmons, who worked with developer Lester A. Barr on the project. Designed in the Classical Revival style, the buildings witnessed the growth of U Street NW into “Black Broadway,” an epicenter for African American culture and wealth in the early 20th century. Across the street, the Republic Gardens Theater hosted concerts and events for the African American community and elites living in the area.
With the 14th Street streetcar line’s opening in 1896, U Street became a residential neighborhood for workers that needed access to public transportation for work. Building developers were quick to construct apartment buildings that would meet renters’ economic needs, while also retaining architectural elements that would entice buyers in a city that was hesitant to apartment living.
DC Inventory: July 23, 1998
Within Greater U Street Historic District