Category Archives: On the Waterfront

On the Waterfront: Ray’s Warehouse

As part of his occassional series on the buildings that once made up Georgetown’s industrial waterfront, GM turns to Ray’s Warehouse, which once stood at 3260 and 3262 K St.

Name: Ray’s Warehouse

Built: 1855

Built By: Ray family

Current Use: Demolished 1974

A little while ago, GM wrote about Bomford’s Mill at the corner of Grace and Potomac St. It was one of a few prosperous flour mills that used water power from the canal. Another of these flour mills was built by Alexander Ray and his two sons. It was built in 1847, just two years after Bomford’s Mill. In fact, the Rays had to “sublet” 100 inches of water pressure from Bomford (Bomford had rights to 400 inches). Eventually the mill built for the Ray’s was torn down and rebuilt as the building that currently stands at the corner of Potomac and K.

To provide storage space for the mill and to have a dock, the Ray family built a warehouse on the 3262 K St. property, which they had acquired in 1853. Previous to the construction of the warehouse, the property was vacant.

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On the Waterfront: The Godey Lime Kilns

Circa 1930s

As part of his occassional series on the formerly industrial Georgetown waterfront, GM turns his attention to the Godey Lime Kilns. The kilns once stood on the east bank of Rock Creek just at the terminus of the C & O Canal.

Name: The Godey Lime Kilns

Built By: William M. Godey

Date: 1864

Current Use: Only ruins left

William M. Godey began his lime-making business in Washington in 1854. In 1864, he moved his business to just outside Georgetown where the canal meets Rock Creek.

On this site he erected five kilns to burn the limestone coming down the canal to convert it to quicklime: Continue reading

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On The Waterfront: Bomford’s Mill

As part of his series On the Waterfront, GM has been exploring the buildings that once made up Georgetown’s industrial heart. Today he turns to Georgetown’s last operating mill: Bomford’d Mill at the corner of Grace St. and Potomac.

Name: Bomford’s Mill

Built By: George Bomford

Constructed: 1845

Current Use: Office Space

George Bomford was born in New York City in 1782. By 1804, Bomford enlisted in the Army where he had a successful career and was regarded as an expert in munitions. In fact, he invented the influential Columbiad, a seacoast defense cannon. The name Columbiad derived from a poem by Joel Barlow. In fact, Bomford married Barlow’s sister-in-law and purchased the Kalorama estate from his widow’s estate.

Bomford constructed the first mill on this site probably in 1832. It was a flour mill. However, it burned down in September 1844. The following year, rather than rebuild a flour mill, Bomford built a cotton factory. There are slightly conflicting accounts for the switch, but the most likely explanation is that there was less competition in the cotton market than in the grist mill market.

According to the records of the Columbia Historical Society, Bomford constructed a four story building with an immense water wheel. The interior contained 3,000 spindles and 100 looms. Over 100 men and women worked in the cotton factory. Continue reading


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On the Waterfront: Capital Traction Company Powerhouse

As part of his recently announced new series On the Waterfront, GM is taking a closer look at the buildings that once made up the industrial section of lower Georgetown. Today, GM starts with one of the more significant buildings that once stood along Georgetown’s waterfront: the Capital Traction Company Powerhouse.

Name: Capital Traction Company Powerhouse

Built By: Capital Traction Company

Constructed: 1910

Current Use: Demolished 1968

The Capital Traction Company was one of the two major streetcar companies that serviced the District at the turn of the 20th century. It was the primary streetcar company servicing Georgetown at that time and was centered around the massive Car Barn at 35th and M, which still stands today. Continue reading


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On the Waterfront: A Survey of Georgetown’s Historic Industrial Buildings

Photo Courtesy of DDOT.

Recently, GM became alerted to the vast archive of historic photos that DDOT has been publishing in its Flickr feed. GM was particularly drawn to the above photo which shows a bird’s eye view of the Georgetown waterfront circa 1946. It inspired GM to start yet another building survey series (even though he’s a school or two short of finishing his survey on historic school buildings-by the way, if anyone knows anything interesting about the Corcoran School on 28th St., let GM know). Thus GM introduces today a survey of Georgetown’s historic industrial buildings.

Georgetown was industrial before it was residential. As the most upstream an ocean-going vessel could reach on the Potomac, Georgetown became an important port for Maryland’s tobacco farmers. Continue reading


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