The 800 Block of F Street, NW, Washington DC


800 Block of F Street
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO

The 800 Block of F Street, NW is representative of the earliest development of F Street as the commercial core of Washington, DC It typifies the growth of Washington from its sleepy southern village days to an advanced and enterprising city. Surrounded by such monumental buildings such as the old Patent Office (now the National Portrait Gallery) and the General Post Office, the 800 Block of F Street introduces a varied facade which enhances the qualities of these buildings and the L’Enfant plan itself.

In 1875, the Le Droit Building at the SW corner of 8th and F Streets was erected. Designed by James McGill in the Italianate commercial style of its period, the Le Droit Building was intended exclusively for office use. Its first tenants included J. Bradley Adams and William H. Boyd (publisher of Boyd’s Directory), a barber, two auctioneers, various agents, twenty lawyers and others, including the architect, James McGill until 1880. Further development resulted in 814 F Street which was built in 1875 or 1876. By 1877, J. Bradley Adams moved his book and stationery business from the Le Droit Building to this address. Soon after, in 1878,

“F Street in 1900.”
Painting by Washington artist Frank Wright, 1977.

Adams erected the Adams Building at 816 F Street for his own use. It is believed that James McGill designed these buildings as well as the Le Droit Building. Adams built another building at 818 F Street in 1881, and its cast-iron front had an estimated cost of $4000.00. B.H. Warder then erected the Warder Building at the SE corner of 9th and F Streets in 1892. Designed by Washington architect, Nicholas T. Haller, this large building was intended for use as offices, apartments and stores. Haller maintained an office in the Warder Building for many years.

As the commercial core of the city moved to the west and northwest, the 800 Block of the south side of F Street became shabby and disused. In recent years, however, the block has slowly been revitalized by artists, shopowners and other businesses. The opening of the nearby MCI Arena in 1997 has once again made it a lively and active area.

Located at the 800 Block of F St., NW, the buildings are privately owned for commercial use and are not accessible to the public. Metro stop: Gallery Place/China Town. The General Post Office is now the Hotel Monaco, a Historic Hotel of America member, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.