Georgetown Time Machine: Neam’s Market

This week for Georgetown Time Machine, GM is visiting a beloved, lost part of Georgetown history: Neam’s Market.

This photo is from the Historical Society of Washington, DC and is apparently from an unknown photographer from the 1970s or 80s. When GM saw it in the collection, he was unsure what he was looking at.

All it had was the street and block number. GM was surely aware that Neam’s once was at the location of the former Marvelous Market, but didn’t realize the configuration was so different. The entrance was on P St. and the short extension by the parking lot was not there yet.

Long term residents surely remember it this way, though. The market is legendary for them. It once stocked the kitchens throughout the neighborhood with fine goods and groceries. Sadly it closed in 2000. Shortly afterwards Marvelous Market opened in the space, but closed in 2014. GM can hardly bring himself to write that a goddam Chase Bank now occupies the space. Hopefully it will eventually close, like the HSBC, but we’re many years away from that. At least the old-timers have memories, the rest of us old photos…



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3 responses to “Georgetown Time Machine: Neam’s Market

  1. kerlin4321

    Ah, Neams. It was our principal source of groceries for years. If you were a regular, the Neams brothers knew your name. You entered the store and the fruits and vegetables were ahead on the right, rows of shelves of dry goods — fancy and basic — arranged on the left. In the back were household items. On the front /center left was the register. In the back left was the amazing glass cold counter, where we bought or ordered everything from filet mignon to turkey to lobsters. Neam’s, like Scheele’s in that era, had a professional butcher on site. They bought their fresh produce at the wholesale Central Market every morning at dawn. Many delicacy items, like oysters or lobsters, truffles and foie gras, were trucked in from the Bay or New England or flown in from Europe. What we couldn’t get there we bought up Wisconsin a few blocks at Safeway or the French Market. Down Wisconsin less than a block away was the Wine and Cheese Shop. Further down on the western side was Coffee Tea and Spice. The denizens of lower Georgetown typically frequented the Food Mart at M & 31st and bought their seafood at Cannon’s near the Canal. There were other generally well-stocked corner markets scattered around town. Almost everyone could buy staples within a few blocks of home.
    Georgetown today is a relative food and grocery desert, alas.

  2. Kate Coe

    The joy of Neams is that they took out of state checks and would let you write one for $10 over the amount.

  3. Carol Ross Joynt

    Once upon a recent time Georgetown was very food forward, and small business forward, in so many ways similar to a small European village. Neams was the crown jewel and nothing has replaced its quality, sense of community and attention to service. Many of the details already praised above. They would also roast and deliver a tenderloin for you, if suddenly needed. They routinely delivered groceries or even one small item. Since Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia used Neams to import caviar for him and the Saudi Embassy, Neams carried the very best caviar. Charming birthday cakes. Yes, they did know your name, and the names of your children, also. You can catch a look in the film “Heartburn” as Meryl Streep walks the aisles. It changed ownership in the mid-90s and then began a rapid decline. A heartbreak. Additionally, we had the French Market, Hudson Brothers market. Tony’s flower stall, Coffee Tea and Spice was excellent, and the wine and cheese shop. We also had a good candy store. Before the Georgetown Park mall destroyed the small businesses, and ushered in the blight of chain stores, Georgetown had an impressive range of family-owned businesses with every kind of service — whether it was Weavers Hardware (ground floor), Georgetown Electric, Dumbarton Pharmacy. Sadly there’s no longer a vision or leadership for what the commercial area should be about. I’m hopeful for Stephen Starr and his planned transformation of what once was Dean and Deluca (another painful loss). If you want a taste of what it once was like, walk the block of upper Georgetown between Q and Reservoir. Or visit Greenpoint or Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

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