What’s the story behind Jay Joe and Barry?


“Dear PoPville,

I can’t possibly be the only one wondering this…

Behind the McDonald’s (across from Walmart) on Georgia Avenue & Peabody Street NW, stands a brick apartment building on Piney Branch Road. I sometimes need a Happy Meal when I get a migraine, and I first noticed this building several years ago when I was sitting in the drive through waiting to order my medicinal nuggets. What I wanted to know is, does anyone know what the deal is with the names bricked into the building above the two entrances: “Jay Joe” and “Barry”? The building looks like it is being renovated, and I bet they will eventually cover up ol Jay Joe and Barry forever. I think they are such odd names for building entrances.”

14 Comment

  • You don’t have to make excuses for eating at McDonald’s.

  • Ha! I also need a cheese burger happy meal when I have a migraine. Usually developed by a night of drinking and/or two glasses of red wine.

  • I’ve noticed this a million times. In line at the same McDonalds. Like every day. For coffee.

    Usually “named” entrances like that were for schools to separate boys and girls, but both seem male, so I agree it’s very curious!

  • hamsterhuey

    True, Natty. I don’t need to make excuses for eating at McDonald’s…but the memory of first noticing the building goes hand in hand with a memory of sitting in that drive through with a horrible headache. It’s in my nature to include irrelevant details. Happy meals really do make me feel better, though (be they hangover headaches or legit migraines). I believe this is due to both the aspirin content of delicious slimy nugget meat and the toy.

  • I have wondered about this many times. I assumed it had to do with the church next door.

  • hamsterhuey

    I hadn’t thought about a dormitory or school building (maybe the church had a school at one point)?
    If I had to guess, I’d say the building was either built in the 50s or 60s.

  • The church did in fact have a school at one point – it is now Center City PCS. The idea that it was a dormatory is an interesting one, but I doubt it would be for a Catholic school as the entrances would most certainly have been named for saints. As a Peabody Street resident, I’m super curious what this was. Most of the buildings in our area were built in the 1950s. I wonder if it’s any relation to the Military Road School (now LAMB)?

  • btw, I was searching and found this picture of the same McDonald’s – plus I had no clue this FB group existed

  • saf

    Those are the buildings’ names, I believe.

    There’s a Brightwood Heritage Trail somewhere right around there that talks about those buildings. Next time I go that way, I will try to remember which one it is and look at it.

  • Jay Joe Barry is the name of the one the most revered Hipsters of the Golden Era of Hipsters in DC. Back in the 60’s when upper Georgia Avenue was known as the ‘Hipster Broadway’ Jay Joe Barry used to drink PBR bottles and pay way too much for them at Club Petworth (Where Walmart is now). Every evening you could find Jay Joe sipping his Pabst and twirling a finger in his left sideburn as he chatted up a pretty intern 10 years his junior with a sandled foot upon her stool. They didn’t have credit cards then so Jay Joe used to pay with a personal check separately for each beer as it was served. I believe they have his original bar stool bronzed and on display in the paper goods aisle at Walmart.

  • hamsterhuey

    I just knew sideburns had something to do with it! One of my cockamamie made up stories is that Jay Joe and Barry built the building together sort of like a left Twix/ right Twix situation. Jay Joe, fueled by his jealousy of Barry’s resplendent sideburns, challenged his friend to a building contest to see who could complete their side of the building faster. I’m not sure who won, but they did walk to McDonald’s together afterward for 15c hamburgers. Also, they were Masons. There was a Masonic temple around the corner.

    I took a gander at the heritage trail website…you can download a trail map and booklet here: http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/818
    The trail does indeed go right by this building, Saf. The booklet doesn’t mention them, but maybe the trail markers do!

    I’m also curious if it had anything to do with the street car line?

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