Ghosts of Markets Past

GM is back again with Ghosts of Markets Past. This is a series in which GM highlights properties around the residential parts of the neighborhood and discuss their previous life as a commercial establishment. Today is a property close to GM’s heart, in that it is literally just down the street from his house: 1531 33rd St.

This property, on the southeast corner of Volta and 33rd, is a classic former market building. Two features jump out on that score: a door facing the corner and a large picture window.

The property is actually only a recent ghost, as it was used for retail until last year. But GM will start with the deeper past.

As early as 1896, the building hosted a grocery store:

Building records indicate that the structure itself was only built in 1893, however a structure previously occupied the lot, as seen in this 1887 survey:

(Volta Place was called Q St. at the time. It didn’t become Volta Place until 1920).

So it’s possible the grocery store existed even earlier. In either event, the store was owned by a succession of shop keepers. Like many grocery stores around DC, the proprietors were often Jewish. For instance, for a while the grocery store appears to have been owned by Jacob Bass, who was prominent in the Washington Jewish society, having once served as president of the Adas Israel synagogue.

In the 1920s, the grocery store joined a syndicate of small grocery stores called District Grocery Society:

The relationship with DGS lasted at least through the 1940s, but the operator changed several times. For instance, in 1935 it was run by Meyer Yalom:

In 1949 it was called Roffman’s Market:

GM couldn’t quite identify when the property stopped being used as a grocery store. However by the last 70s, it was an art gallery:

By the early 2000s, the Strand on Volta gallery occupied the building. Later Furniture from Scandinavia took over the spot selling, well, furniture from Scandinavia. They occupied the space until the ground floor was converted to residential use by the homeowner last year.

And so a new ghost is born.


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