Not So Long Ago: Prospect and Wisconsin

This week in Not So Long Ago, GM takes a look the corner of Prospect and Wisconsin. Nowadays it’s a Restoration Hardware. In 1993, it was a Roy Rogers of all things.

This is the first of several fast food restaurants in GM’s pile of old photos. In many ways this is Exhibit A in terms of arguing that a lot of people look at Georgetown’s recent past with some rose colored glasses. It wasn’t all Olsson’s and Neames.

Here’s a static version of those shots:

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Not So Long Ago: Prospect and Wisconsin

  1. There was a terrific poster shop and movie theatre to the viewer’s left. I saw Whit Stillman’s “Barcelona” there back in the day and he has been my favorite contemporary American director ever since.

  2. But Restoration Hardware also occupies the space where the Key Theatre was, right next to Roy Rogers. When’s the last time you bought anything at Restoration Hardware? We used to go to the Key Theater all the time. And, we would stop in at Roy’s for some great fried chicken.

  3. Brad Altman

    And who could forget the famous “balloon man” who hawked his wares by yelling ‘make the ladies happy–make the children happy’? He hung out side the Roy Rogers or Martin’s Tavern

  4. Brad Altman

    And who could forget the famous “Balloon Man” who hawked his wares out side Roy Rogers or Martins Tavern yelling “Make the children happy–make the ladies happy”?

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  6. Jim McCarthy

    Great shot, GM… I recall scarfing many a bacon cheeseburger and top-notch fries at that Roy’s… Gotta say, I kinda liked it when there were one or two fast-food joints in the village. These days, I’m hard pressed to think of the closest BK, McD, TB, or the like to Gtown. The Wendy’s at 21st and K maybe..?

  7. GM

    Ah, but what about Wingos? Surely that can satisfy your needs for coronary-inducing food? (Also there’s Five Guys). For me the offense of Roys is more aesthetic than culinary.

  8. Kate Whitmore

    The famous balloon man (anyone know his name?) used to hawk his wares all along Wisconsin Avenue; I remember him from the mid-60s frequently standing outside the Parlour ice cream shop (where Leonidas is now).

    Roy Rogers was quite the biker and pothead scene in the late 1960s. I remember some Hell’s Angels parking their bikes there and also at the O Street side of People’s (now CVS). Georgetown was pretty rough back then.

  9. Jim, the Wendy’s was actually at 17th and K, just before Farragut Square, but that building was torn down about a year or two ago and it is gone. The closest fast food now is either the McDonald’s in Rosslyn or the McDonald’s on M between 19th and 20th.

  10. Bill

    Yeah I loved that Roy Rogers, too. Their bacon cheeseburgers were terrific and they’re the only fast food chain to serve good ice tea.

    But that restaurant I think was bundled with the Key Theater, which surrounded it in an L shape somehow. I went to the very last showing there (Rocky Horror Picture Show, naturally) and remember exiting onto Prospect out the side. So when Restoration Hardware renovated the space, they combined the two spaces. Right?

    BTW I don’t dislike Restoration Hardware at all, but the combination of the Roys and the Key was a neighorhood gem.

  11. Mark

    I remember in the 70s hitting the key theater to see Rocky Horror when it came out. For a high school kid coming into town from the burbs, it was a big deal.

  12. George

    I remember the balloon man, I heard he was busted for selling heroin, he used to be outside of the Little Tavern, at Wisconsin and N St. And those were not “Hells Angels”, they were “Pagans”. They were scary! Used to be a lot of them in the middle sixties, down on M Street, when the auto parts stores were there, and the saddlery store, near Desperado’s, and the laundromat on M St. And the other Little Tavern. Near Stohlman’s Chevrolet, and Menehan’s and Hardware, around the corner was Weaver’s. And the Cellar Door. And the head shops selling trippy posters and black lights. Before “Up Against the Wall”. Remember when Britches first opened on Wisconsin, just below N? 1967. And Doc Dalinsky’s, Mrs. Crocker’s lamp shop, Dorcas Hardin’s dress shop. Bill Fitzgerald’s Wine and Cheese Shop, next to Peoples Drug Store. Or Coffee, Tea and Spice? Rive Gauche! The French Market, Magruders, the Sealtest dairy at 25th and M St? They delivered! Rich’s shoe store. John Learmont’s Records and Books. Arpad’s Antiques. Long before, my mom kept her horse in the stable at 23rd and P Street. We used to take the street car to the amusement park at Glen Echo! My sister and I once got stuck there because our nanny didn’t have the 5 cents for the return trip. Buying our goldfish at Woolworth’s. Exotics pets up at Friendly Beasties. And the man with his haunting bell, who would walk the streets in the summer, sharpening knives. Lad Mills selling Esso on Que Street. Georgetown was a great place to grow up, and still is.

  13. George

    I almost forgot the Francis Scott Key Bookshop on 28th St. And the fabulous Saville bookstore on P st, just off Wisconsin. Used to buy my copies of I F Stone’s weekly there, during the Vietnam War. And “Yes!” for organic food. And music at the Bayou. Gallagher and Huegely’s Lumber yard, the coal trains coming to the power plant. The Veerhof Gallery, and Barbara Fendrick’s Gallery on M. Great memories.

  14. Kate Whitmore

    George, your list is fabulous. I also remember most of those places. Georgetown was a great place to grow up and hopefully still is.

  15. George

    And…the Cerberus movie theatre, Sonny’s Surplus, the Gulf Oil gas station where now stands the Latham Hotel, Fromage on M Street, the Guards, and Jamie’s East India Company, the River Club, and Wyatt D’s nightclub on M, near Desiree. Gepetto’s Pizza. What was Alan’s movie theatre on M Street called, where now is CVS? Before that it was the showroom for Manhattan Auto, then they moved to Rockville. And on that same block was Shrader’s Sound, the first good stereo store in DC. And Orpheus Records. I could go on…Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up on 31st.

  16. Brad Altman

    The theater where the CVS on M Street is today was the Biograph. That is where the Rocky Horror Picture Show was. I don’t think it was at David Levy’s Key Theater. Wyatt Dickerson’s original club was in the old Parkway Ford Building, later Cerberus Theater (now Barnes & Noble) . His later adventure was Charlie’s (which later became River Club) on Water (K) Street

  17. Bill

    It could be that Rocky Horror was at the Biograph originally, but perhaps it later migrated to the Key? The final showing at the Key was definitely Rocky Horror — I was there and remember it distinctly. The interactive audience was very impressive. I assumed that the Key scheduled it for old times sake. Mind you I first lived in Georgetown in ’85 and didn’t move here permanently until ’90, so I can’t speak to what the scene was like prior to that. But I have vague recollections seeing of tipsy cross-dressing vampires milling around lower Wisconsin late at night.

    I love that list, George! I even recognized a few names — I’ve always wondered where that laundromat used to be as I spent many hours in there. And oh The Bayou!

  18. bill

    The balloon man also sold beer at RFK at baseball and footballs games. I can still hear his voice

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  20. joy

    I worked at 2803 M Street and watched the tanks returning to the Fort at the end of a Presidential parade. They came straight at the building and would swing the turrets to parallel the street, some priscally, some – oh, yes, turn the turret.

  21. Anonymous

    Yea, I was the projectionist at the KB Cerberus – The Cerberus acquired the reels of film that were The Rocky Horror Picture Show after its final showing at the Key Theater and began showing it in late ’86, to limited crowds. I was later hired as the projectionist at the Key in early ’87 after Rocky Horror was gone and only heard the stories of mayhem that took place in those aisles downstairs. I knew the janitor at the Key well, Danny. He said it used to take him 4 hours to clean up on Fri/Sat nights!

  22. Dan

    I worked at Saville in early 70’s, with Janet Sullivan. We’d get visits from I.F. Stone & Jack Valenti. A million little rooms in the store!

    Frank Zappa’s “200 Motels” at the Key Theater. Coffee at Crumpets. Sub sandwiches at Rick’s American Cafe (?) & Booie-monger. Bike fixed at Big Wheel Bikes, Had an acct. at Farmers & Mercantile Bank. Yes! the organic food restaurant down near the river. The Door Store. Britches of Georgetown & even an early Gap.

    We were all surprised when a few Vietnamese restaurants began appearing after the war was over.

    Head shops came & went, selling Zap Comics drawn by R. Crumb. The All-Night Bakery on upper Wisonsin Ave. was great fun at 3 AM.

  23. Ed

    Ed Suiter, geez I remember all these places back in the 60s and 70s. I worked at Lad Mills Esso/Exxon. Great times, and GT was the place to be in the late 60’s and 70’s

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