The Foggy Bottom Historic District-Washington DC

Foggy Bottom Historic District
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

The Foggy Bottom Historic District is comprised primarily of private residences and, except for a single alley warehouse and a few buildings built as corner stores, only rowhouses survive. They form a cohesive neighborhood of modest dwellings, built in a limited range of materials and styles. Primarily flat-fronted structures, the rowhouses are generally two or three stories in height The buildings in the district date primarily from the late 1870s to the first decade of the 20th century and they reflect the stages of the neighborhood’s development. Among the earliest houses is a frame house at 25th and I Streets that may have been associated with the Underground Railroad. The long blocks of similar flat-fronted, two-story rowhouses, generally built after 1885, represent the culmination of the vernacular building tradition in the district.

The significance of Foggy Bottom’s vernacular architecture is further enhanced by the 19th century alley dwellings that are located in Snow’s Court (between 24th and 25th Streets and K and I Streets) and Hughes Mews (between 25th and 26th Streets and K and I Streets). The area originally housed workers from such nearby industries as Godey’s lime kilns, the Washington Gas and Light Company, the glass works, the Abner/Drury and Christian Heurich breweries, and Cranford’s Paving Company. The population of Foggy Bottom came to consist primarily of poor immigrants who lived close to work. These people were mostly of German and Irish extraction. Foggy Bottom was described in those days as being low and swampy with fogs settling in over the river banks and mixing with smog from the gas works.

Today, the development of a parkway along the Potomac, the trend toward restoration and preservation of neighborhood areas, the proximity to memorials, the Department of State and such high-rise buildings as the Watergate have lent Foggy Bottom a special place in the city. However, the late 19th-century working class neighborhood is still discernable from its immediate surroundings. Foggy Bottom serves as a visual reminder of Washington’s little known industrial heritage.

The Foggy Bottom Historic District is roughly bounded by 25th St., NW, on the east; New Hampshire Ave. and H St., NW, on the south; 26th St. on the west; and K St. on the north. Foggy Bottom is comprised primarily of private residences that are not open to the public. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom-GWU