Vanished: Washington

On Jim Weaver's Passing

April 24, 2013

It is with profound sadness that we report the passing of our great friend and colleague Jim Weaver. Jim was a funny, earnest and loyal friend to many, but especially architects and builders in Washington, D.C. He owned and operated the hardware specialty store, W.T. Weaver & Sons in Georgetown, which was the 'go to' store for hardware, plumbing and household items for over a 100 years. 

Jim Weaver and Hugh Newell Jacobsen forged a special and enduring friendship starting in the 1960's as Jim was able to craft, mix and fabricate special order hardware for Jacobsen's custom doors and windows. Jim was Jacobsen's 'go-to' man for these special fabrications, and together they won many awards and were published in all of the design glossies. When in a pinch, Hugh would be known to say "Where is Weaver?!" 

The business continues to thrive today in the same location under the management of his two sons, Michael and Brice.

1 Comment   Click here to share your thoughts.

30th & M Street: Into the Maelstrom of War, Twice

September 26, 2012

Originally named The Crawford Hotel and then renamed The Union Hotel during the Civil War, this was a prominent hostelry that served some of the city's most distinguished visitors  starting before the The War of 1812. During the American Civil War, it was commandeered and used as a Union hospital, not unusual for the time or the location.

The photo above depicts the now complete renovation of the hotel soon after the Civil War and she is sporting a new French Mansard roof which became a trademark style and a key indicator to later historians that would be known as Second Empire; a roof form that would go viral across the northern and western United States. 

December 1862 Source: The Library of Congress (Photo by: Enhanced by Jacobsen Architecture) December 1862 Source: The Library of Congress

The photo at right is referenced in another source as being taken "in the aftermath of The Battle of Fredericksburg" which reliably dates it. The hotel is clearly being used as a hospital; windows are open in winter  because of the humanity and smell, men stand about, soldiers are looking out the windows at the photographer in hopes of being recorded before they possibly die.

Just 49 years earlier, British soldiers would have seen this building from the same view as they nervously halted their chase of the retreating American forces from Bladensburg.  They stood on the threshold of Georgetown at the then "Aqueduct Bridge" on Pennsylvania Avenue fearing that the heathen-rascal citizens of Georgetown would 'open up' on them from their houses and shops- and these British were hardened veterans just off the ships from fighting in the Napoleonic Peninsular Campaign.

They shouted jeers and insults at the fleeing Americans at this location, shooting, throwing rocks and bottles and pumping fists in the air. From the ranks, speculation that the reason the Americans fled so quickly and surprisingly from the battlefield was to lure the British out of the city into Georgetown where they could be encircled. It was not true.

 Today, an unfortunate example of (Photo by: Google Street View) Today, an unfortunate example of

It was a hot and humid night and the weather was turning ugly as Washington summers can be. Some hours later,  approximately 120 British soldiers would be killed, far more than by enemy fire, by a freak tornado that walked itself right up the mall and Capitol and extinguished much of the set fires and putting the fear of God in the occupiers, who then abruptly departed back to their boats at Benedict, Maryland.

In truth, only about 60 men with a few small artillery pieces were able to re-muster after the retreat at the hill forest that is The Georgetown Library today. The British never came, but vowed to come back after the winter and finish Georgetown for good.

Colonial Jackson in New Orleans saw to it that they couldn't keep their promise and thus was written the popular song of the whole affair:

"In 1814 we took a little trip-

Along with Colonial Jackson down the mighty Miss-is-ipp,

We took a little bacon and we took a little beans,

We caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans."

Simon Jacobsen is the curator of the popular blog "Vanished Washington" and is partner of the Georgetown architecture firm Jacobsen Architecture with his father Hugh Newell Jacobsen.

Click here to share your thoughts.

The Inventions that Used Imagination to Bring the Game to the Regular Guy on the Street in 1924

August 5, 2012

We visit 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. in the summer of 1924 and a crowd of baseball fans outside the now defunct Washington Star building. They are watching a mechanical score board react to The Nationals baseball team as they play New York in the Penant series. The Nats beat the Yankees that day. The line-up for the Nationals was an all-star parade of Hall of Famers like Walter Johnson, Goose Goslin, Sam Rice and player-manager Bucky Harris. Name recognition of the Yankees that day was only Babe Ruth.

Typical mechanical play-by-play Scoreboard or similar contraption (Photo by: Shorpy) Typical mechanical play-by-play Scoreboard or similar contraption

Behind the scenes of Coleman's Invention


This from Washington Post Apr 20, 1910

Fans Impressed With New Baseball Game Reproducer

Thousands of excited fans stood for nearly two hours yesterday afternoon watching the Post's new electric baseball game reproducer, as it realistically reeled off play after play of the Nationals' last game of the double-header with Boston.

It was the unanimous opinion of the crowd that it was the finest exhibition of electrical scoreboard work that has ever been witnessed in this city, the only regret being the defeat of McAleer's men in the ninth inning. Up to the fatal ninth, it looked as if the Nationals, with Johnson in the box, had the contest safely tucked away, and it was interesting to note the change of expressions on the faces as Stahl, the first man up, went out. Four green lights sent the next batsmen to first on balls, and then the big bell told of two singles and a double, and before the contest was over Boston had sent three runners over the plate, and the game was won.

The board, which will reproduce every game the Nationals play away from hone, is a great improvement over the one which The Post used last season. It is arranged to accommodate an unusually large crowd, and instead of one board as heretofore two will be in operation at the same time, the boards being set at an angle that it will be almost impossible for any on in the crowd to miss a play.

The lights indicating the various plays are so brilliant that they can be seen from the District building, and this alone is a big advantage to the crowd, especially those who are in the rear. It is pitched just far enough from the street so that every play is visible, and the play is recorded on the board a fraction of a second after it is completed on the ground where the game is played.

August 2nd, 1924 (Photo by: Shorpy) August 2nd, 1924

As radio developed the boards became obsolete and redundant and the shows featuring Coleman's Scoreboard Invention seemed immediately ridiculous.

11th and Pennsylvania Avenue today (Photo by: ) 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue today

Click here to share your thoughts.