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The Giant Car Barn on 14th St. NW: A 1907 Story

Take a look back at the past century with this story of the giant car barn on 14th Street NW in 1907. Learn how it was built, what it cost and what it means today.
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14th St. car barn under construction - August 2nd, 1907 (Washington Times)
14th St. car barn under construction – August 2nd, 1907 (Washington Times)

If you live north on 14th St. NW, surely you are familiar with this giant car barn, now converted to house Metrobuses.

Below is an article from the Washington Times, published on June 2nd, 1907.

From the modest car sheds on Florida avenue that formerly housed the cars of the Fourteenth street branch of the Capital Traction Company to the huge structure now nearing completion at the extension of the line near Brightwood is a vast step, but it plainly tells the story of the tremendous increase of travel and the wonderful building up of the section traversed by the line.

The building, which is 538 feet long by 208 feet wide, covers nearly two and one-half acres of ground and will accommodate more than 250 cars, which, if placed in a straight line, would cover fully two miles, reaching from the Treasury building to the present car barns at Fourteenth street and Park road.

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The construction is absolutely fireproof, the roof and columns being of re-enforced concrete, while the interior is divided by sectional walls of brick so that in case of fire it could be contained within one section and travel proceed without interruption. There are two turn tables, and the conduits, or pit, on which the cars runs [sic], are so arranged that the plows need not be disconnected when being moved in and out of the building.

Extensive repair shops are a part of the arrangements, so that it will be possible to build an entire car in the company’s building.

At the north end of the structure are the rooms for the offices of the company, together with conductors and motormen’s recreation rooms, handsomely fitted.

The exterior is of light brick and white stone trimmings, and the architecture, while pleasing in effect, might well be designated as belonging to the “practical modern school,” especially adapted for the uses intended.

Wood, Donn & Deming were the architects, while the construction work has been carried on by Richardson & Burgess. The cost will reach fully $250,000, and when entirely completed will be equal to any building of its kind in this country.

By the way, $250,000 in 1907 is north of $6,000,000 today. And on a totally unrelated note, in London, three months earlier taxi cab meters were used for the first time. Cool.

I think that’s a good segue because we have a post about taxis coming up next week.

View from the interior of the car barn toward 14th Street, 1961 (source: Park View D.C.)
View from the interior of the car barn toward 14th Street, 1961 (source: Park View D.C.)

You can read a little more about the car barn at Park View, D.C.

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Ghosts of DC stories.