Category Archives: Not So Long Ago

Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Dumbarton

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM stops by Wisconsin and Dumbarton. GM’s not going to pretend this is an interesting flashback; the only thing that changed was the name of the bank and the awning color. But the history of American Security Bank is kind of interesting!:

American Security Bank was founded in 1889 in Alexandria, Virginia, as a banking and trust concern, operating a branch in the District of Columbia at 1419 G Street, NW; the following year it reincorporated in the District and moved to 1405 G Street. It was the second trust company established in the District and the first to offer a woman’s department. By 1903 business had grown to the extent that a new location was once again sought. The present location (a block from Lafayette Square and part of the Lafayette Square Historic District) was selected, and construction began in 1904. The design was praised in the banking press, and it was featured in The American Architect and Building News in 1905. The building now houses a branch of Bank of America as a result of the latter’s merger with NationsBank, which purchased MNC Financial in 1993. MNC had purchased American Security Bank in 1987 but continued to operate it under the original name. Due to its location immediately north of the Treasury Building the building appeared on the back of the ten dollar bill for many years,[5] a fact exploited in advertising with the slogan “right on the money.”

It’s too bad this building continues to be occupied by a bank (as several of the more prominent corners of Georgetown are). Banks provide little in the way of street life and with online banking becoming more dominant, bank buildings are becoming even more unnecessary. Hopefully someday Bank of America will clear out and something more interesting will move in.

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Now and Once Upon a Time Ago: Canal Towpath

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This week, instead of a Not So Long Ago post, GM is following up on yesterday’s post of This Is Washington, D.C., and showing how similar the canal towpath looks today to how it looked in a children’s book in 1969.

Not much to be said here. Either the paint jobs have been changed over the years, or M. Sasek just came up with his own colors. Pretty scenic in either depiction…

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Blues Alley

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This week in Not So Long Ago, GM stops by the lowest he’s been yet: Wisconsin Ave. at Blues Alley.

Nowadays this stretch hosts the recently arrived Jack Wills, a vacancy, and Georgetown Tees. It wasn’t so different back in 1993.

Where Jack Willis now stands, there was Nature Food Centres. Nature Food Centres appears to have been a competitor to General Nutrition Centers, with both of them hawking protein shakes as far back as the 1960s. It was based in Massachusetts and while it appears the overall chain isn’t around anymore, there are a few (presumably independent) shops still scattered across the northeast.

GM’s not sure when the health food store moved out. O Salon was here for many years before they moved up to, well, O St. Jack Wills, another one of the seemingly proliferating British men’s stores, opened here last year.

Next to Nature Food Centres, back in 1993, was Jade House, an antiques store. And what’s there now? An empty shop with Jade House still written on the window. So nothing’s been in there since Jade House closed.

Georgetown Tees has been the one steady presence on this block. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and Dumbarton

This week on Not So Long Ago, GM stops by Wisconsin Ave. and Dumbarton.

The three shops in the current photo are Focus, Ice Berry, and Coogi (with Glow tanning salon upstairs).

Way back in 1993, these three shops were almost all different. Where Focus is, there was Coffee, Tea & Spice. This store was owned by the Rowe family for many years. GM’s not sure when they closed up shop. There is another Coffee, Tea & Spice shop down in Old Town, but GM is not sure whether or how they were related.

Oddly enough, Georgetown still has three tea-oriented shops: Just Paper & Tea on P, Georgetown Spice & Tea Exchange, and Ching Ching Cha (the last two on Wisconsin just below M).

Next to Coffee, Tea & Spice was Originals, a clothing store. This store stayed open until last year when it was replaced by the second Ice Berry in Georgetown (thus filling in the Ice Cream No-Man’s Land, which GM subsequently renamed the “Dessert Desert”).

Next to Originals was some sort of a jewelry store, whose name is not apparent from the old photo, unfortunately.

Sorry this isn’t a terribly interesting Not So Long Ago entry, but sadly GM is reaching the end of the pile of old photos he has and he’s used up most of the good ones.

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and S

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM takes one last stop on upper Wisconsin Ave. These days, this stretch of Wisconsin hosts Hamrony Beauty Salon, Dalton Pratt, Sky Shoes, and Everards Clothing.

In 1993, the offerings were similar, but the names different.

On the far right, there was a hair salon called Summit for Hair. The summit reference may be reflective of the fact that it looks like multiple independent stylists worked there (including three sub salons called “Dominique”, “Survive” and “Antoine”). The name of the store has changed over the years (in 2004 it was called “Armanibeauty”) through to today.

Next door was Field Custom Tailor. This multigenerational tailor has served Georgetown since 1963. GM has long been told that this is the best place to get a bespoke suit in the city. Sadly this shop closed a year ago and the family set up a new shop in Glover Park (their north London roots on display with the Tottenham Hotspur flag). So if you need a custom suit, just head up the road a piece.

This space remained empty for a little while, and hosted a pop-up antique shop. In the last month, though, a new clothing boutique called Dalton Pratt has opened up.

In 1993, next to Field’s was an antiques store called Comprador. Apparently a comprador is a “native managers of European business in East Asia”. That would suggest that it sold Asian-style antiques. Sky Shoes was in this space by 2004, having changed its name from Hatum Valet and moved out of the space now occupied by Bacchus Wine Celler.

Next door to Comprador was another location for Collins Hospital for Animals (which has also occupied a space a couple doors down for at least as long). By 2004, this space was occupied by Everards, and has remained so since. Continue reading

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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and S

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This week on Not So Long Ago, GM sticks with the same block he’s been covering the last couple weeks: Wisconsin and S.

Nowadays, this stretch boasts Baytok Tailors, Talio hair salon, Collins Hospital for Animals and a Starbucks.

Eighteen years ago the space that contains Baytok appears to have been empty (the windows are covered). There is red fretwork in the windows that makes it look like it might have hosted a Chinese restaurant at one point, but that’s a wild guess. By 2004 at the latest, Baytok was already occupying this space.

Next door, 18 years ago the space now occupied by Talio was occupied by, well, Talio. They may be the longest standing business on this block.

Or it could be Collins animal hospital, which was also open next door in 1993.

So to a large extent, other than some design changes, much of this part of this block has stayed very much the same.

That is except for the Starbucks. As covered in an earlier Not So Long Ago, the Starbucks used to be a used car dealership of all things.
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Not So Long Ago: Wisconsin and S

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GM’s still a little busy unpacking from the move, so he’s going to keep this Not So Long Ago brief. This week GM stays on the upper end of Wisconsin Ave.

For expedience sake, GM will reprint what he wrote about these two places a few weeks ago:

On the right of P.O. Boxes Etc., it appears that in 1993 the space was empty. At some point the Indian restaurant Curry Club opened up there. This restaurant stayed open until a few years ago. In its place a Korean restaurant called Arisu opened up. GM passed Arisu a million times without going in. Finally he stopped by, somewhat out of pity for the apparently struggling restaurant. And it was very, very good food. GM was resolved to stop by more often, but sadly they closed a few weeks later. The space sat empty for a long time until Shanghai Lounge moved in earlier this year. What GM would love to see would be a restaurant that fused all three of those styles, Indian, Korean and Chinese. Mmmmm…..

Beyond that space, you can’t quite see it in the 1993 photo, but as we’ll see in a later edition, Bistro Lepic’s space was occupied by Greek Port, a Greek restaurant. The French favorite moved in in 1995 and has obviously been there ever since.
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