Three Stories About Frager’s Hardware

We love and support Frager’s and were so devastated when the place burned down. We have full faith that the business will reopen and continue to serve Capitol Hill residents for their hardware needs. Founded by Russian Jewish immigrant, Fritz Frager, it’s an important landmark which has remained stable for over 90 years.

In order to show our support and bring some more attention to this local institution, which has been around in the same spot since 1920, we want to write a “Three Things…” post about it. So, here we go …

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Frager's Hardware
Frager’s Hardware

1. Youngest gang of would-be safecrackers

Some teenagers found themselves in some serious trouble when the broke into Frager’s back in the 1950s. This is an article from the Washington Post, published on August 21st, 1957.

Four boys–all under 15 and described by police as perhaps the youngest gang of would-be safecrackers on record–were arrested Monday and charged yesterday with breaking into Frager’s Hardware, 1115 Pennsylvania ave. se.

The boys were accused of breaking into the store Friday night through a front transom. Inside, according to police , they sawed off the knob of a safe but could not break it open. A saw, a knife, three air rifles and some change were found missing.

The air rifles led police to the youngsters, who were ordered held in the Receiving Home to await action by Juvenile Court.

2. Store owner shot during holdup

Okay, this is a crazy story. This was published in the Washington Post on January 12th, 1969, less than a year after the riots.

A 62-year-old hardware store co-owner was in fair condition last night after he was shot in the neck during a hold-up.

Police identified the man as Julius Frager, who was shot while three men were holding up Fragers Hardware Store at 1115 Pennsylvania ave. se.

The men, one armed with a pistol, entered the store about 3:45 p.m., announced a hold-up and, while scooping up the money, shot Frager. They escaped with an undetermined amount of cash.

Julius was a partner in the business, with his brother George, and they were sons of the founder, Fritz “Frank” Frager. These two were the owners who sold the business to the current owners Copenhaver and Weintraub.

3. Boy tries to save brother from drowning, has bike stolen

This is a tragic story. This was published in the Washington Post on January 4th, 1959.

Marvin Hankins, of 1415 22d st. se., was riding a brand new red bicycle yesterday. A thief stole his bicycle last Saturday while he was trying desperately, but unsuccessfully, to save his younger brother from drowning. The new bicycle was a gift from George Frager, owner of Frager’s Hardware, 2301 Pennsylvania ave. se. and his son, Eddie, “to make the boy feel better.” They read about Marvins’ problem in The Washington Post.

In the 1950s, there was a second Frager’s at 2301 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, across the river.

a policeman questsion Marvin Hankins about his brother's fatal accident (Washington Post)
a policeman questsion Marvin Hankins about his brother’s fatal accident (Washington Post)

So, we have to dig up the story about the boy, and here it is, published the day before.

A thief stole Marvin Hankins’ bicycle last Saturday, while he was trying desperately, but unsuccessfully, to save his younger brother, Thomas, 11, from drowning in a storm drainage ditch in Anacostia Park.

Marvin’s sister, Stella Roberts, said yesterday that the return of the bicycle might be the one thing that would begin to lift the gloom which has hung over the 12-year-old boy since his brother’s death.

“Marvin has been staying inside, not saying anything,” she said. “The bicycle meant so much to him that he might begin to live and play again if he had it back.”

The bicycle is a red and white Western Flyer with a broken seat and no front fender. Marvin lives at 1415 22d st. se.

Marvin had the rear end of the bicycle overhauled last month and bought a light and streamers for it.

His last ride was from his home to Anacostia Park after two of Thomas’ playmates told him that his brother had fallen into a ditch.

Marvin dropped the bicycle at the edge of the park and ran to the ditch to aid his brother. All he found was his brother’s hat and glove floating on the water. The rescue workers recovered the body a half hour later while Marvin and his mother watched. Marvin’s bicycle was stolen during the rescue operations.

Mrs. Roberts said their mother, Mary, and father Joseph, a plumber, have been under a doctor’s care. She said her father’s job, to which he returned yesterday, and her mother’s housework have helped them recover.

But Marvin, without his bicycle, has had nothing to do.

Such a sad story, yet so heartwarming that George Frager helped the young boy out.

Frager’s is planning to reopen with the support of the community. Please have the generosity that George Frager had and help of Frager’s in their time of need. You can read a little more on Capital Community News and donate to a special fund set up by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation.

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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