The Real Estate Trust building stands unique among Washington’s early 20th century office buildings. The building is a steel and concrete frame structure, sheathed in ivory-colored terra cotta with poly chrome accents. Its ground floor is clad in white marble. It was constructed between 1913 and 1914 and designed in a highly ornate Beaux Arts Renaissance Revival-style by the notable Washington-based architecture firm Milburn, Heister & Company. Milburn, Heister & Company were the architects of prominent commercial and government buildings in D.C. and across the United States during the early 20th century.
The Real Estate Trust building has weathered nearly a century without major alterations. While the ground-floor interiors have been renovated and do not retain original elements, the street-level facade appears to have been restored close to its original appearance, which is a rarity for downtown commercial buildings with their ever changing first-floor tenants. The most substantial change to the building’s appearance was the removal of its elaborate pierced crown (which was likely cast-iron), which was replaced by a patterned polychrome brick cornice that attempts to fit the building’s color scheme. All in all, however, the structure has changed little since it was finished in 1914.
DC Inventory: October 2, 2014