Brownley Confectionery Building

The Brownley Confectionery Building is one of DC's finest extant examples of Art Deco-style commercial architecture.

Constructed in 1932 as Brownley's Confectionery, the building was designed by the locally prominent architectural firm of Porter & Lockie, notable for its use of Art Deco design motifs in commercial and institutional buildings. The building is one of the last remaining from the commercial heyday of the 1300 block of F Street, once the heart of the city's most fashionable shopping district. Walter Brownley was proprietor of both a Confectionery and a fruit and nut shop.

The Confectionery opened as early as 1905, when the store first appears in the City Directory at 1203-5 G Street, NW. As the business expanded through the 1920s, Brownley opened at other locations on more fashionable F Street, first in the 1200 block, and later in the 1300 block, following the carriage trade as it gradually migrated toward the western end of F Street and the new Garfinckel's Department Store (constructed 1929-30).

The entrepreneurial Brownley family purchased a previously existing building at 1309 F Street under the name Brownley Investment Company in 1920. The same company also purchased an existing building at 1300 F Street. However, it was not until 1932, upon the death of Walter Brownley, that the family razed the buildings at 1300 and 1309 F Street in order to construct buildings of a more contemporary design. The family hired the architectural firm of Porter & Lockie to provide them with complementary designs for a new fruit and nut shop at 1300 F and the new Confectionery at 1309. The company continued at each address until 1940, when the businesses closed. The building at 1300 F Street has since been demolished.

The Brownley Confectionery Building was constructed by the James Baird Construction Company at a cost of approximately $60,000. Designed specifically as a Confectionery store, it was considered modern inside and out—"the last word in construction for the candy business," according to a contemporary account. It was constructed as a fireproof structure and was fully air-conditioned. The first floor was equipped with a soda fountain and light lunch counter; a balcony area at the rear of the first floor was used as a lounge. The remainder of the building housed a modern candy kitchen, bake shop, rest rooms and storage.

Built at the height of the Great Depression, the building represented one of the largest private building projects of the year in Washington.

DC Inventory: April 24, 1991
National Register: December 1, 1994



1309 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C.