Swartzell, Rheem and Hensey Building

The building added to the Financial District's professional aesthetic.

Located within the Financial Historic District, the Swartzell, Rheem & Hensey Co. Building exemplifies the larger design trends of the surrounding area and the popular architectural styles of the early 20th century. The building was designed by Paul J. Pelz and completed in 1907. It is one of the earlier completed buildings in the historic district, which is found along and near 15th Street NW and McPherson Square. Its location and style matched the Beaux Arts trend amongst financial institutions and banks built downtown during this time. Paul J. Pelz, the building’s architect, is known for his work (along with John L. Smithmeyer) on the Library of Congress.

The abundance of these office buildings in the area are important to DC’s banking and financial history, and the city’s growth as a commercial center. These buildings were constructed to emulate the rising social and economic status that DC wanted to reach, and financial institutions supported this goal through their buildings. The Swartzell, Rheem & Hensey Co. Building, which was originally owned by a brokerage firm of the same name, was integral to establishing the neighborhood’s status in the business community.

From 1948 to 1984, it operated as the Playhouse Theatre. Following the theater’s closure, a 12-story office building was constructed – set back behind the original building’s facade of columns and sculpture.

DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
Within Financial Historic District



727 15th Street, NW