Car Barn Design has Changed Quite a Bit Over the Years

3500 block of M St.

In the process of researching the Exorcist steps two weeks ago, GM came across a fact that he was surprised to find: despite its impression of permanence, the Car Barn has changed quite a bit over the years.

The photo above shows the top of the Car Barn as it exists today. But that is already a lot different from how it appeared in 1966:

Notice that there are not buildings on the roof in 1966 as there is today. Also, there’s no clock, which is really surprising, because you’d think that a tower like that would have always had a clock on it. Interestingly, when Roy O. Chalk–the owner of the streetcar system before it was closed down–died in 1996, the Post describes the Georgetown car barn as having a “Romanesque clock tower [that rears] up from the District-side of the Key Bridge.” It is a tower. And it does have a clock on it, but that’s a relatively recent development.

But really, these are relatively small changes. Much larger changes had already occurred by 1966. Look at what the building looked like after it was built in 1895:

The facade, while of the same style, is almost completely different. The corners originally had hipped roofs and were much shorter. Look at the edge where the rounded corner went up to the roof line. The rounded edge is still there, but only goes up to the second row of windows.

The center front was much different. It originally stepped back. And there were dormer windows across the whole front (and the buildings on the roof that are there now echo these old dormers). And the top of the roof was simply lower, making the tower appear much taller.

The pediment that has cable-car elements and is on the roofline was originally on the first floor:

The Very Cool Pediment of the Car Barn

The largest impact is on the tower. Where once it loomed over the building, now it just sort of peeks.

These changes appear to have been made during a massive reconstruction that took place in 1911:

 

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1 Comment

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One response to “Car Barn Design has Changed Quite a Bit Over the Years

  1. Interesting! I really wish there were better collected chronological photos of Georgetown at the Peabody room at the library! Almost no records of pictures of Georgetown and Wisconsin & M street in the 1960s & 1970s. That is when I lived there on 33rd street.

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