The family man | German-American Community | Career | City History | Cluss-Buildings | Cluss in the context of the city

Center Market - Front
Center Market - Front

Center Market 1920
Center Market 1920

Center Market - Inside 1923
Center Market inside, 1923

Center Market
Center Market from above

Center Market
Center Market, northwest corner (9th Street/Pennsylvania Avenue), 1928

Center Market (1871-78) (20)

Between B Street (now Constitution Avenue) and Pennsylvania Avenue and between 7th and 9th Streets, NW
Constructed in 1871-78, additions by Cluss in 1886, demolished in 1931

The Center Market was the largest of three market halls that Cluss designed. During the 19th Century, market halls played an important role in the city's infrastructure; furnishing the quickly growing urban populations with fresh groceries.

In 1869, Adolf Cluss was selected by the Washington Market Company, to design a modern hall for, at the time, the most important market place in Washington, the publicly owned Marsh Market, adjacent to the Washington Canal, facing Pennsylvania Avenue at Market Square. The Washington Market Company was a private corporation chartered by Congress. The Board of Directors and major stock holders included D.C. Governor Henry Cooke, former mayor M.G. Emery, Shepherd's Row Alexander Shepherd and Hallet Kilbourn, Cluss' client John R. Elvans and other prominent business, political, and military leaders. Emery was a long-time president of the company.

As early as 1864, when he designed a new public market building for the same site (see No. 109), Cluss demonstrated that he was well-acquainted with contemporary European discussions about market buildings. Members of Congress, however, favored a privately-owned building and forced the city to tear it down before it had been completed. In 1871, Cluss personally visited several American cities to see the newest developments in market-hall construction.

The building contract from the Washington Market Company included a complex consisting of three market wings and a main building, arranged in a rectangle around an open courtyard. By July 1, 1872, the three market wings were opened. The wings alone harboured 666 permanent market stalls. In addition, street dealers were able, for a small fee, to position their stands outside under the market's canopy. At its completion, with a floor space of 57,500 square feet, Center Market was the largest market hall in the country.

Unlike older markets, Center Market had few narrow alleys and driveways, because Cluss reasoned that such passages were dangerous for market customers. Rather, he wanted to encourage clientele to stroll around the market without the nuisance of traffic.

Cluss was especially proud of the large ice houses in the courtyard, which he viewed as "indispensable appendages of a modern market in a southern climate."

The main building of the market was completed in 1878. After a long controversy, this building was not constructed as a hotel, but instead as a row of wholesale stores. In 1886, Cluss and Schulze designed the 9th Street wing, a major project in itself, valued at $75,000.

During the twentieth century, the growth of chain-stores and supermarkets brought the necessity of markets such as Center Market into question. In 1931 Center Market was dismantled and its location used for the new US National Archives building.




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