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Wolford and Shilberg Store (98)

437 7th Street, SW
Constructed in 1871, demolished in the 1950s

Cluss designed a two-story, brick store for Mark Shilberg and Henry Wolford in 1871. The Evening Star described it as a "dry goods store equal in all respects to the best ... superior in its appointments to most of the stores on Pennsylvania Avenue," then Washington’s premier shopping street.

The store contained two show windows made of plate glass, each ten feet by seven feet (3 meters by 2.1 meters). Cluss recessed the entrance to the store by five feet (1.5 meters) in order to expand visibility of the contents in the store window. Such large display windows facing sidewalks had become a new way of marketing a retailer's goods. Cluss claimed that Wolford and Shilberg's store windows were the largest in Washington.

Despite the modern windows, the owners soon moved their business to Market Place, facing Pennsylvania Avenue and the new Center Market (20), designed by Cluss and built in 1872. Their original building, however, remained in the busy Seventh Street SW neighborhood shopping area until the 1950s, when an urban renewal project led to the demolition of nearly all the buildings in Southwest Washington.

Henry Wolford was born in Maryland. His parents emigrated from Bavaria. Mark Shilberg was born in New York. Henry Wolford and Mark Shilberg started a dry goods business at least as early as 1864, when Wolford was 20 and Shilberg was 18 years old.




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