The Ontario – Then and Now

Photo used with permission by Michael Horsley

Thanks to Michael Horsley for allowing us a glimpse back in time from his incredible photo archive. This is “17th and Columbia Road NW Washington DC, 1984” You can read an awesome history about the Ontario Theatre from Streets of Washington here.

And today:


16 Comment

  • With two bedrooms starting at $650K, families in the neighborhood can hardly afford to buy. The price gouging for housing in this city is really frustrating.

  • Love that lettering of the word Ontario from the then picture. Would have been nice if they could have somehow replicated that in the new building.

    • Agreed. As-is I see almost nothing in similarity between the old building and the new. But if they would have preserved or recreated the signage that could have been cool.

  • I am just hoping that they will stop putting those ugly Ontario 17 signs in all the tree boxes along Columbia now that they are almost done.

  • Any idea who the architect is on the ‘now’ building?

    • I watched this go up daily and the wood guts will mean a lot of noise issues between units. The developers also seemed to be struggling for weeks with a brick/sliding door issue. I doubt that potential buyers will be made aware of the wood construction when they are asked to pay these prices. As a good capitalist I can live with that because it’s on the buyer to inquire about – but as a neighbor, I’m completely underwhelmed by the half-appled attempt to re-do the marquee they tore down. The cement post still has the spiral from the cardboard they use to form it and seems emblematic of a lot of the cost cutting I saw throughout the project. It certainly doesn’t gel with the spirit of developer’s promise to prefer it.
      According to the historic link: “At one point an historic landmark nomination was filed to protect the theater, but the nomination was withdrawn after the owners agreed to preserve several symbolic architectural elements from the old building, including its iconic marquee, to be incorporated into the planned new building. “

      • +1 I watched this go up too and have wondered about the quality of construction. It looks like some shortcuts were made and the buyers may have some issues down the road. The construction of the nearby AdaMo seems much more durable and solid.

        My least favorite new construction is the new wing to the Dorchester apartments further down 17th near HT. The construction looked shoddy throughout the build.

      • I agree that the wood isn’t ideal, but nearly every building this size is wood due to cost, so not much you can do about that. I am 100% in agreement about the facade though. I had thought they were going to keep the old facade and was shocked when I saw it gone one day. This is a real poor attempt to comply with whatever agreement they signed. That being said, I agree with the below comment about being excited for a bit more connectivity between 16th/MtP and 18th.

  • The “Then” scenery looks better than the “Now” photo. Tearing down history for $$$$ is as American as apple pie. Yay, America!

    • Wtf are you talking about? There’s nothing in the then photo but a bland brick building. The now photo has tons of lovely trees.
      99% of the time I like photos of older Washington much more, but not here. That comment is completely inane.

    • That’s some strong nostalgia. Affects everyone I guess…although I agree that replicating that sign with that font would be pretty cool.

  • Everyone’s a critic, I guess. I’m excited for the hardware store, and I hope that the building’s presence will eventually bring more businesses to that part of Adams Morgan.

  • I’m really tired of “luxury” developers using the cheapest brick color: yellow.

    It’s so unappealing and turned Columbia Heights into what looks like a desert there’s so much yellow on buildings, sidewalks.

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