Everywhere you look
German Roots in Washington

Washington, DC's Seventh Street corridor is a locus of German-American sites in the nation's capital. Yet look beyond the "Old Downtown" to see how Germans have left traces everywhere over the past two hundred years. Enjoy our diversity as a people by looking at these sites.

German-speaking immigrants to the United States were so numerous that you can find their influence everywhere in the built environment, in journalism, in politics, and in the arts. Everywhere you look.Washington's German-speaking community had an enormous impact and presence right here where the Goethe-Institut has its Washington office. German businesses and houses of worship, along with architects, artists, and inhabitants, left a lasting legacy on what was Washington’s principal business and shopping district in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And they continue to influence the nation's capital today.

Explore this website. Stroll around the neighborhood and beyond. Discover history behind the façades. Enjoy the evolving mixture of peoples, places, and styles that make Washington the vibrant place it is today.

As you "stroll," take the opportunity to explore also the connections back to the German-speaking countries of Europe, both historically and today. And stop by the Goethe-Institut while you're at it.

Commercial and Office Buildings

Dietz's Rathskeller

Begun as a saloon in 1908 and advertised as a "Rathskeller" from 1913 until it closed in 1918, Dietz's Rathskeller operated at 511 7th Street, N.W.

A. Eberly's Sons

One of a number of stunning 19th-century rowhouses on Seventh Street carries the inscription "A. Eberly's and Sons, 1881," bearing witness to a German business which prospered here.

H. C. Ewald's

Built in 1881, this impressive 7th St. building was once home to a confectionery.

7th & I Streets NW

IBEW has replaced the Woolworth Store and Goldenberg's department store is now the site of the TechWorld complex.

The Hecht Company

Alexander and Moses Hecht, the sons of a German-Jewish merchant family, built their main department store in 1896 at 7th and F Streets, N.W. At 12th and G Streets today, it is the only large department store still operating in downtown DC.

Kloeppinger's Bakery

William C. Kloeppinger’s Confectionery and Bakery, operated at the corner of G and 6th Streets, N.W., at the turn of the century, enticing passersby with fresh pretzels, candy, and baked goods.

Lansburgh's

Lansburgh's is a famous old name in Washington commerce and has been present on 7th Street NW since the mid-19th century.

Mercantile Savings Bank

The building housing the former Mercantile Savings Bank at 10th Street and G Place, N.W. was designed by the German architect Julius Wenig (1872–1940).

Oriental Building Association

Founded in 1861 as a German-American workers' bank, this is the oldest savings and loan association in the nation.

Former Washington Journal Office

Founded in 1859, the Washington Journal is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Washington. For many years, its offices were located at 710 Sixth Street, NW, in the heart of the German-American business community downtown.

3rd St. & Mass. Ave., NW

Once home to Healy's Pharmacy, this corner building at Massachusetts Avenue and 3rd Street, N.W. was built in 1890 by Julius Germuiller, a son of German immigrants.

819-821 Seventh St. NW

This elaborately ornamented Romanesque Revival building was designed by German-American architect Julius Germuiller and constructed in 1891.

Government Buildings

Former Post Office Department / Ariel J. Rios Federal Building

The graceful Former Post Office Department building showcases numerous sculptures carved by German-American architect Adolph A. Weinman.

Metropolitan Hook and Ladder Company

Discovered in June 2010 to be an Adolf Cluss building, the Metropolitan Hook and Ladder Company’s Fire Engine House is one of eleven buildings that Cluss designed that still stands, and the very first one of his buildings to be completed.

National Archives Building

The National Archives and Records Administration building is bounded by Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues and 7th and 9th Streets, NW, a space that was occupied by Center Market until 1931. The north pediment of the building was designed by Adolph A. Weinman.

Old Patent Office Building / Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture

This building once housed the office of the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz, and is currently home to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Houses of Worship

Calvary Baptist Church

Calvary Baptist Church, built in 1866, is the only surviving church building designed by German-born architect Adolf Cluss.

Greater New Hope Baptist Church / Washington Hebrew Congregation

Home to Greater New Hope Baptist Church since 1954, this building was originally a synagogue for a congregation of essentially German origin.

St. Mary Mother of God Roman Catholic Church

St. Mary Mother of God Roman Catholic Church was established in 1846 at 5th and H Streets, N.W., as the first Roman Catholic church for the German-speaking community in the Nation’s Capital. 

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

St. Mary Mother of God Roman Catholic Church was established in 1846 at 5th and H Streets, N.W., as the first Roman Catholic church for the German-speaking community in the Nation’s Capital.

The United Church

Concordia United Church of Christ in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood near George Washington University was founded in 1833 as the German United Evangelical Concordia Congregation.

Libraries

Carnegie Library / Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

The former Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square is the home of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and its Kiplinger Research Library.

Martin Luther King Memorial Library

The MLK Memorial Library was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and built 1969-1972. The library is the only building designed by the great German-American architect in DC.

Markets

Center Market

The Center Market buildings, erected in 1871, were designed by German-American architect Adolf Cluss. Located centrally downtown, Center Market was one of DC’s most popular markets.

Eastern Market

Originally established in 1805 by order of President Thomas Jefferson, the current Eastern Market building was designed by Adolf Cluss and constructed in 1873 in the wake of the explosive growth of Washington, DC after the Civil War.

Memorials and Monuments

Statue of Benjamin Franklin

The statue of Benjamin Franklin that stands on Pennsylvania Avenue at 12th Street, N.W. was dedicated in 1889 but did not stand at its current location until 1982. It was designed by German-born Ernst Plassman and sculpted in marble by Jacques Jouvenal, also born in Germany.

Dr. Samuel Hahnemann Statue and Memorial

The Dr. Samuel Hahnemann statue and memorial stands on Massachusetts Avenue at 16th Street, N.W. It was erected in 1900 to honor the German father of homeopathic medicine.

Martin Luther Statue

On the north side of Thomas Circle, at the intersection of Massachusetts and Vermont Avenues, NW stands a statue of Martin Luther in front of Luther Place Memorial Church, built in 1873.

PROSPECT HILL CEMETERY, WASHINGTON, DC

This historic German-American Cemetery was founded in 1858 by the German Evangelical Society, Concordia Lutheran Evangelical Church. Located on the east side of North Capitol Street, the cemetery's peaceful grounds are the final resting place for many of Washington's historic German-American families.

Steuben Monument, LaFayette Square

At the four corners of LaFayette Square, across from the White House, stand statues of four Europeans who helped fight the British during the American Revolution: the Marquis de LaFayette, the Comte de Rochambeau, General Thaddeus Kosciusko, and Baron von Steuben.

Oscar S. Straus Memorial Fountain

Constructed in 1947, this fountain is located on 14th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues, N.W. It honors the German-born Straus, who became an American diplomat and was U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Labor under President Theodore Roosevelt.

Museums

Carnegie Library / Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

The former Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square is the home of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and its Kiplinger Research Library.

Christian Heurich House Museum

From the 1880's onwards, the area around Dupont Circle NW was one of Washington's most fashionable residential sections. The Christian Heurich House Museum - also known as the "Brewmaster's Castle" - gives us a feeling for that era of opulence.

Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum

Lillian and Albert Small Jewish Museum, housed in the historic Adas Israel Synagogue, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest surviving synagogue in the District of Columbia.

Hockemeyer Hall / German-American Heritage Museum

The German-American Heritage Museum of the United States opened in 2010 in a building known as Hockemeyer Hall, located in the heart of the old German-American section of Washington.

National Building Museum Frieze

The façade of Washington’s National Building Museum, located between 4th and 5th Streets and E and F Streets, N.W., boasts a frieze by artist Caspar Buberl. The frieze was cast in 1883 and depicts Civil War soldiers.

Old Patent Office Building / Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture

This building once housed the office of the Secretary of the Interior, Carl Schurz, and is currently home to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.

National Museum / Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building

Constructed 1879-1881, the original United States National Museum - now the Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building - was designed by Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze to display the collections gathered for the United States Centennial Exhibition in 1876 in Philadelphia.

Performance and Meeting Halls

Hockemeyer Hall / German-American Heritage Museum

The German-American Heritage Museum of the United States opened in 2010 in a building known as Hockemeyer Hall, located in the heart of the old German-American section of Washington.

Kennedy Center - Sculptures by Jürgen Weber

In the entrance plaza of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts stand two large bronze panels by German artist Jürgen Weber (1928-2007), "Amerika" and "War or Peace."

Masonic Temple

Now home to The Gallup Organization, the Masonic Temple at 9th and F Streets, N.W., was built by German-American architects Adolf Cluss and Joseph Wildrich von Kammerhueber between 1868 and 1870.

Washington Saengerbund

The Washington Saengerbund was founded in April 1851 by a group of German-American men who sang in the choir of Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church. In 1894, the Saengerbund opened its own new clubhouse at 314 C Street N.W., where it remained until 1928.

Residential Properties

Christian Heurich House Museum

From the 1880's onwards, the area around Dupont Circle NW was one of Washington's most fashionable residential sections. The Christian Heurich House Museum - also known as the "Brewmaster's Castle" - gives us a feeling for that era of opulence.

Petersen House / The House Where Lincoln Died

Julius Ulke, a German-American photographer, boarded in the House Where Lincoln Died in the 1860's and took the historic photograph showing the room a few minutes after President Lincoln's body was removed from the bedroom.

Matthew Ruppert House

In 1904, German-American tavern-keeper Matthew Ruppert commissioned architect Julius Wenig to design this house at 611 K Street NW.

H.H. Wells, Jr. Residence

In 1887, towards the end of his career, Adolf Cluss and Paul Schulze designed this house at 428-430 M Street NW for Henry H. Wells, Jr. It is the last remaining residence designed by Cluss.

WENIG ROWHOUSES 1400, 1402, 1404 FIRST STREET, SW

This group of three brick rowhouses, constructed in 1907, was designed by the German-born architect Julius Wenig.

Schools

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives

Designed by Adolf Cluss as one of several model schools for the city of Washington, the Charles Sumner School served newly freed African-American children in the period following the American Civil War.

Franklin School

The Franklin School is located at 13th and K Streets, NW, across the street from Franklin Park. It was one of the innovative school buildings built by German-American architect Adolf Cluss and became a model for public schools around the country and abroad.

7th Street, NW

Former site of the Goethe-Institut Washington

Before the German cultural center moved to this renovated office building in the mid-1990s, where it was located until 2016, the building housed commercial shops and restaurants, including a haberdashery where German immigrant Emile Berliner (1851-1929), inventor of the gramophone, had his first job.

Carnegie Library / Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

The former Carnegie Library at Mt. Vernon Square is the home of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. and its Kiplinger Research Library.

Center Market

The Center Market buildings, erected in 1871, were designed by German-American architect Adolf Cluss. Located centrally downtown, Center Market was one of DC’s most popular markets.

National Archives Building

The National Archives and Records Administration building is bounded by Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues and 7th and 9th Streets, NW, a space that was occupied by Center Market until 1931. The north pediment of the building was designed by Adolph A. Weinman.

The Hecht Company

Alexander and Moses Hecht, the sons of a German-Jewish merchant family, built their main department store in 1896 at 7th and F Streets, N.W. At 12th and G Streets today, it is the only large department store still operating in downtown DC.

H. C. Ewald's

Built in 1881, this impressive 7th St. building was once home to a confectionery.

A. Eberly's Sons

One of a number of stunning 19th-century rowhouses on Seventh Street carries the inscription "A. Eberly's and Sons, 1881," bearing witness to a German business which prospered here.

Dietz's Rathskeller

Begun as a saloon in 1908 and advertised as a "Rathskeller" from 1913 until it closed in 1918, Dietz's Rathskeller operated at 511 7th Street, N.W.

7th and H Streets NW

The space on the corner now occupied by a Starbucks was once a shoe store. The building was built by German-American architect Julius Germuiller.

7th & I Streets NW

IBEW has replaced the Woolworth Store and Goldenberg's department store is now the site of the TechWorld complex.

7th & G Streets NW

7th Street NW was a common subject of photographer John P. Wymer.

Seventh Street NW

The corner of Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW has always been an intersection of government and commerce in the District of Columbia.

Top