Old NPR Building Demo Reveals Original Brick – Anyone Know Who Was There Before NPR?

635 Massachusetts Ave, NW

Dear PoPville,

I was walking by the NPR building, undergoing demolition, and noticed that it appears to have been built around an older brick building that came before it (at least the front half was). Any idea what was here before the old NPR building went up around it? Who knew? Fascinating stuff.”

18 Comment

  • here’s an article from 1991 that provides a little background


    • My favorite sentence from the article: “While a new subway stop in the vicinity has boosted the area’s profile, it remains mostly deserted after dark, with few nearby amenities such as restaurants, bars, newsstands or convenience stores.” When I moved to DC in 2000, it was much the same. How things have changed.

      • Amazing, isn’t it?
        I remember being able to find street parking when going to a club at 7th and G Streets in late 2004 and early 2005.

  • It looks like this was the site of the old Home Savings Bank http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2002695251/

    • Yeah. Good searching…

      “The main building of the Home Savings Bank, a landmark at the corner of 7th Street and Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., became a branch of American Security and Trust after the merger.”


        • Wait…now I’m more confused than ever. According to this link to the Washington Post, it appears as though the entire brick building would have been demolished and the NPR building took its place.
          This definitely isn’t the case…I studied the demo site extensively before I took this picture and sent it to PoP. That brick wall is left over from something else…what could it be?
          Would they have left part of the bank building to incorporate it into the “new” NPR structure.
          I’m baffled.

          • Says in that washington post article:

            “The building at 635 Massachusetts Ave., N.W., was built in two phases, the main building going up in 1970 and an addition in 1980. Because it is so long and narrow, the building would provide windows and sunlight for a large proportion of employees.”

            I imagine the brick wall is from that period between the two.

          • Perhaps the following??

            1967 Home Savings Bank Building demolished (the building in the picture that Kent posted)
            1970 Phase one of replacement (occupied by a bank)
            1980 Phase two of replacement (still occupied by a bank)
            1992 NPR takes over
            2013 building razed


      • A sad reminder of American security Bank, which had terrific customer service, only to be taken over by the execrable NationsBank, which is now the totally odious Bank of America.

        • Actually Maryland National Bank bought American Security. Bank of America and Nations merged and then took over MNC Financial, owner of Maryland National Bank.

    • Sorry, wrong location. According to LoC photo Home Bank was at NY Ave north of K St, not south of K at Mass Ave.

  • Before NPR it was American Security Bank and they moved shortly after being purchased by Maryland National Bank. My mother used to be a VP there and I spent a lot of time in that building growing up. Had a great cafeteria.

  • Two things – First, it’s a damn shame that the beautiful historic building that was on that site before NPR was torn down. That would be a huge asset on that square today if it had survived.

    Second, depending on the era of the construction, that might actually have been a brick firewall in the building. In the late 60’s through the early 80’s, masonry firewalls were common in shorter (under 15 floors, which is all of DC) large buildings because masonry did a very good job of at least slowing down big fires. If this was a firewall, it was probably designed to keep the back half from burning if there was a fire in the front half and vice versa.

  • The large building in Kent’s photo is two adjoined buildings. The first 81′ of the long facade along K Street was built by Home Savings Bank in 1902 as an apartment house. The next 32′ was built in 1917 as an office for HSB. The 1919 Baist’s real estate map has “HOME SAV. BANK” written on the apartment portion, so perhaps the older section was repurposed once the east section opened. I could tell you more but you’d have to pay me.

  • When I worked in that building, somebody told me it had indeed once been two buildings and they were joined. The floors didn’t measure up, so on each floor, there’s a bit of a transition in the middle between ends of the building. On the lower floors, it’s just a slight incline like a ramp, and it gets bigger and bigger as you go up (as the difference between floor heights accumulates), so that on the top floor, there’s actually a small set of stairs you walk down in the middle of the hallway. I can’t vouch for the explanation, but the fact that there are ramps/sets of steps between the halves of the building and that they increase in size as you ascend to the higher floors is true. Could be a “they forgot to account for the weight of the books” urban legend, but that’s what I was told.

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