Judging Buildings


I had no idea the building housing West Elm (1020 G St NW) downtown had so many cool details.



Sweet building, yeah? Incidentally any fans of West Elm?


21 Comment

  • RIP Woody’s

  • saf

    Once upon a time, this was the main building of the flagship store of Woodward and Lothrop. (The north building, now gone, was directly across G Street.)

    I loved that store. Loved it. It was a horrible loss when they went under.

  • What a great old store, Woodies was. They used to have a coin and numismatist counter which, I guess, is probably one of the reasons they went out of business. Not really a growth industry there. Loved those narrow old escalators and the pneumatic tube dealies they used to send invoices around the building in.

    And their Xmas window displays were legendary.

  • i love west elm, but i want to hear more about woodies! whats a coin and numismatist counter? (dont tell me to wiki, im trying to engage discussion here!) how long ago was the business opened/closed?

  • The coin and stamp counter was upstairs, I recall, on about the 8th or 9th floor. They had old stamps and coins for sale. Also, on a lower floor was one of those old-timey restaurants that served tea and toast to a demographic of older ladies. Maybe I’m embellishing things in my mind’s eye a bit, but there was a Sunset Boulevard-ish quality about the whole store in the last years. It was wonderful!

  • I’m pretty sure my mom encouraged me to go to college in the area so that she could shop at this Woodies while pretending to be visiting me. It seemed so much more glamorous on visits here when I was little than the Horne’s and Kaufman’s at home in downtown Pittsburgh (Emphasis on seemed; I was a kid. But Pittsburgh always had the KDKA booth plying their farkleberry wares at Christmas, so it holds a special place for me, but as usual, I digress). Woodie’s was on its last legs when I was in college, but I tried to come down to shop whenever I could – which at the time was no simple task, as there was no green line to College Park back then. I really miss the big city department stores of yore. I’m pretty sure they romanticized shopping in ways that may not be entirely healthy, but I don’t care.

  • One of my favorites in DC!

  • people need to start linking to pics of this coin counter. and when did Woodies leave?

  • Woodies was gone in 1995ish. I think the Opera bought it with plans to convert it into an opera house, but then they realized it was too expensive. (you’d think they’d have figured that out beforehand) I remember rumors about a Barney’s was going to go in there; thankfully I never got my hopes up for that.

  • Yes, to look down into the ground floor when it was decked out for Christmas was really something.

  • sucks. perhaps instead of the historical societys in dc splitting hairs over hand blown glass in my windows they should focus on really preserving our treasures. not just the facades. I mean. with a little subsidy from the city would woodies have kept on going? Why not save the Capital Market from condos. why not save the SW Fish Market. The only time i can think of something like this happening was when the residents got together to save the Avalon Theater. I swear this is going to be the blandest town going in a few short decades if we dont learn how to preserve this citys character and charm.

  • Woodies hired Michael Graves to spiff up the building exterior sometime in the late ’80s (if memory serves me right), which accentuated some of the details in PoP’s photographs. For example, the green highlights on the building were something Graves added — the exterior of the building looked considerably less grand in the 1970s.
    While DC is fortunate to have one remaining department store downtown, the number of US cities with downtown retail palaces such as the old Woodies still functioning as multi-story department stores can be counted on one’s fingers.

  • I used to work in this building. The lobby has some pretty cool pictures of the building in its heyday.

  • I work in this building and as a previous commented stated, there are some interesting pictures in the lobby from the days when it was Woodward & Lothrop. Anyone can walk in and look at them.

    One day not too long ago I was in the lobby when an older woman walked in and went to the security desk and asked how she could get into the department store. I asked the guard about it later and he said he’s been asked that question by visitors many times. I guess that goes to show that the Woodward & Lothrop name still has some life in it.

  • I was in west elm the other day I was commenting to someone how every city would give so much just to have the downtown retail it had 40 years ago. It was a shame it all went away. While small shops are nice, it would be great if they could get a couple of more large department stores in downtown to make it more of a destiantion for shopping.

    I grew up in Portland, and the mall they put into the middle of the city in the early 90s was a great addition even though in a perfect world it would engage the street a bit more.

  • I’ll 2nd the RIP woodies. I miss it.

  • It will be interesting to see what becomes of the Old Convention Center site. The intent is to put shopping back downtown. It makes sense, given that we’ve seen the supermarkets come back and people wanting to live and spend time in the city again.

  • I didn’t know the woodies, but that west elm conversion is really nicely done. lots of original detail kept, great to have a west elm in the city.

  • The coin and stamp counter moved around quite a bit in the 1970s and ’80s. I think it’s last location was on the top floor. And if I recall correctly, Woodies folded right around the time the DC Government was near insolvency. They didn’t HAVE any money or incentives to hand out. Same deal with the Garfinkles store down the street. You have to remember that this was going down when Barry was bankrupting the treasury, the murder rate was hitting 400+ a year, there was almost no retail in the neighborhood, the Slickee Boys were playing the old 9:30 Club, and the Spy Museum was Doc Johnson’s “Marital Products” and porno store. It was far from the yuppie wonderland it is today.

    Shorpy has a few photos of the old Woodies display windows.

    They also used to give pony rides in the toy department back in the day.

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