Georgetown Time Machine: Shops on M St.

This week on Georgetown Time Machine, GM is exploring a shot from the eastern end of M St. (M and 31st). And there’s lots of great views of the old shops and restaurants that were here.

As for time, the DDOT library where it’s from doesn’t indicate what year it is. It’s really blurry, but GM thinks the plate from that van on the right says some year in the 1960s, and GM thinks it’s probably 1960:

The car in the center of the photo with the funky taillights is a late 1950’s Plymouth Fury. GM doesn’t see any other cars that he can identify, so lets say it’s probably very early 1960s.

So what do we see in the photo?

The first thing that jumped out at GM was the legendary Chez Odette French restaurant:

This restaurant was opened in 1953 and remained open until 1985. This unique balcony is still there and the space is now occupied by Sephora. (Before that it was occupied by Georgetown Seafood Grill).

A little to the left you can see what is called the Mexican Shop:

It appears to be a Mexican themed gift shop, according to a 1957 Post article:

But it’s not clear that this is describing the Georgetown shop. There was a Mexican Shop on Connecticut Ave. going back to 1939 (it was at 1216 Connecticut, where the Shake Shack is now. It’s interesting that the building has a clay tiled awning, perhaps it’s a southwestern touch from the old store?). The first reference GM could find to a Mexican Shop in Georgetown was in 1962.

It’s hard to make out any of the signs on the south side:

The tall sign at the center says “restaurant” and it’s attached to 3124 M St. During this time period that building was occupied by Silver Dollar restaurant:

It’s also interesting to note that 3112 M St., which currently has an old Quaker Oats ad painted on the side of the building, doesn’t appear to have it yet. (GM checked the perspective, you’d definitely see the right side if it were there:

And then finally on the left you can see Chambers Funeral Home. This actually corrects a mistake GM had in February. He had seen a shot of M St. from Wisconsin Ave. and saw the sign for Chambers. He mistakenly thought it was the same building that housed Birch’s Funeral Home for many years. That was actually a block to the east (where Kate Spade is now). Chambers was in the building at 31st and M:

It’s now occupied by German TV. Funnily enough, when GM was drafting this, he mistakenly thought this beautiful building had been torn down. It hasn’t. GM just never noticed it before, probably since it has no shops or restaurants in it. It’s a really rather striking Neoclassical building. The neon sign must’ve looked great on it. Too bad GM has never found a color photograph of M St. showing all the old neon in its full glory.

The last thing GM will note is something he’s noted many times before. Look at the lights and the sidewalks. The lights were the rather ugly “cobra” lights and the sidewalks were completely concrete. The cutesy globe lights and the brick sidewalks are a completely modern phenomenon designed to look old, even though they’re not.

Ok, one more thing. Check out this little boy:

He’s probably only in his 50s today. This wasn’t that long ago!

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