What’s the Story Behind these Connecting Houses on Q Street?

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Another reader sends an interesting sight also from Q Street in Logan:

“I somehow have never noticed these breezeways between the row houses on Q street before. You always seem to have the answers to odd architectural finds around town, any idea what the story is behind these?”

I always seem to have the questions not the answers 🙂 I actually have posted this same question in the past but I have no idea what the answer was and can’t seem to find it in the archives. Anyone remember?

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10 Comment

  • I asked a resident last weekend, and he told me that, while the houses were once connected, they no longer are. Apparently there are walls at the midpoint of each bridge structure. He suggested that the series of houses were originally connected a while ago as part of an assisted living complex. But he characterized that backstory as possibly urban legend. I’m curious whether anyone knows definitively.

  • The 1887 Hopkins Real Estate map shows these houses – 10 in all, 8 connected – with the current “connecting” elements. The lot lines, then as now, run right down the middle of the connectors. So there is no reason to believe they were intended to pass through after the houses were completed. Which implies my only guess: that they were intended to pass through DURING construction. That seems like overkill, which might be why you don’t see elements like this elsewhere.

    • justinbc

      Having seen other houses with a very similar existing structure, I would say this seems the most plausible of all the guesses/stories.

    • Many rows of rowhouses were built with interior doorways between the units, which were used during construction and bricked up when the construction was completed. You can see the shape of the doorways (arched header etc) in the brickwork if it is exposed. I gather it made construction dramatically more efficient to just be able to walk through the entire block to work on them all simultaneously vs. walking out the door around, back in, etc, Not to mention it would allow you to secure the construction sites more effectively by only using 1 entrance, etc.

      • Yes, that was apparently common. Hence my guess. But this instance requires that the pass-through areas actually be constructed, as opposed to an opening just being left in the common wall during construction. Big diff! So maybe it was tried here to see if it was worth it.

        @justindc – Have you seen this elsewhere in DC? Curious that they seem to hang between floors, which I hadn’t noticed before.

        Btw all the oral history about elderly or student group-housing is nonsense – until somebody documents it. Easy to research, but I’m not going to bother…because it’s nonsense.

  • A long-time resident once explained to me that these houses used to be connected as part of a dormitory for a young women’s school. Classes took place around the corner on 14th.

  • We looked at one of those houses when it was for sale a couple years ago. Though it looks like a walkway, it doesn’t connect. There’s an expanded bathroom in each house and they meet in the middle. The owner explained that they couldn’t do a full expansion because of the requirement to keep the alley clear, but they could both work together to get a little more space for their bathrooms.

  • I lived in the red house in the first picture for about five years. The previous owners of the house at that time told us there was some type of tax advantage when the houses were constructed if they shared a common wall on both sides of the structure. FYI – The bumped out space in 1415 Q St was a nook in the master bedroom. The semi-detached houses also allow for a convenient pass through to the backyard without traveling through the interior of the house.

  • I think a better unverifiable story would be that it was part of a speakeasy during prohibition.

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