GM was recently browsing the website the GSA created in anticipation of the auction of the monumental West Heating Plant in Georgetown when he came across some fascinating historical photos on the site.
They even have what would now be described as “construction cam” photos. GM gif’d them:
It’s too bad that small building just north of the West Heating Plant was torn down at some point.
There’s more great stuff. Like here’s a photo of the empty lot before construction began:
As you can see, the construction was apparently handled by the Charles H. Tompkins Co. This company, started by a GW grad, was behind such large scale projects of the time like the Scottish Rite Temple and Garfinkle’s department store. It also built both the West and the East wings of the White House. It was eventually acquired by the construction giant Turner.
Here’s a shot looking up from Rock Creek to the edge of the West End.
The brick building is still there, nestled between curving highway on ramps. Those pretty frame houses, however, are long gone, having been plowed under so that suburbanites can drive to work faster.
Finally, there are a couple nice shots of the old coal shed:
This was still around until about 8 years ago (along with the tracks from the B&O freight rail line, which was ultimately transformed into the Capital Crescent Trail). The architecture of the shed was clearly meant to echo that of the heating plant. But does anyone remember if it still looked that way before it was torn down? GM seems to remember it looking different.
And for the record, GM thinks the West Heating Plant is a beautiful building. It will look even better if cleaned up by a responsible owner.