Historic Structures

Jenifer Building (F. & W. Grand), Washington DC

Date added: November 19, 2010 Categories: Commercial

F. & W. Grand, a 5 & 10 store, occupied the building at 400-404 Seventh Street from 1929 until the early 1970's. Upper story space in the "Jenifer Building" was leased by many professional concerns - dentists, photographers, physicians, an employment agent. By 1981 the building was vacant.

Erected in 1900, the Jenifer Building was built by James L. Parsons, and designed by the prominent turn-of-the-century architect, James L. Hill. A significant contributor to downtown Washington, Hill's achievements include the Atlantic Building, the National Bank of Washington and the Occidental Building.

The ground level of the Seventh Street facade is dominated by a projecting storefront which wraps around to the second bay of the D Street elevation. This storefront appears to have been added in 1911 (Permit #618, 8/1/1911) and is composed of twin show windows resting on marble bases. The Seventh Street storefront is pierced by three recessed entrances; the primary entrance is at the chamfered southeast corner (Seventh and D). Above the storefront is a deteriorated fascia which rises to the sill line of the second story windows. Above, the facade displays a five-bay, symmetrical arrangement which follows a traditional tripartite building rise.

The second story is composed of rusticated piers which constitute the formal base of the facade. Between these are square-headed openings with double-hung one-over-one wood sash with exposed stone sills and lintels.

Defining the three-story mid-section at the third floor sill is a belt course of egg-and dart molding supporting a simple cornice. The central three bays of this portion feature a giant, three-story high round-arch: Third and fourth stories carry one-over-one double-hung sash, with exposed sills and lintels; the fifth story openings are round-arched and have tripartite sash. Recessed spandrel panels beneath the fourth and fifth level windows span between the piers. The flanking end bays have single, segmentally arched openings, with stone sills and gauged brick voussoirs. These sash are one-over-one double-hung wood units. On the fourth story, ornate wrought iron balconies project from the end windows.

An egg-and-dart and twin corbel courses set the sixth (attic) level apart from the story below. Here, the window openings are shorter and again carry one-over-one wood sash. The attic fenestration responds to the order set below except that there are two openings per bay Piers rise from the sill line to the lintels of the windows. The building terminates in a heavy classic cornice with carefully modulated block modillions underlined by a string course.

On D Street, the facade retains the character of the main elevation, with minor alteration. A basement access and area way with decorative wrought iron railing are located at the street level. Storefront windows occur for two bays to the east. The remaining six bays (to the west) are set by rusticated piers, between which lie recessed brick panels surmounted by transom windows. A cast-iron frieze and cornice define the top of the ground floor.

The west elevation is exposed on the alley which bisects the square on a north-south axis. This elevation roughly establishes five structural bays by means of segmentally arched windows, presently filled with brick. An iron fire escape projects from two southern bays and rises the full height of the building.

The basement and first floor interiors are basically open in plan and connected by a central open stair; the second through sixth floors are organized about a central atrium. The upper levels are reached by a simple wood staircase, located on the north party wall.

Jenifer Building (F. & W. Grand), Washington DC 1981 D STREET ELEVATION
1981 D STREET ELEVATION

Jenifer Building (F. & W. Grand), Washington DC SEVENTH STREET ELEVATION
SEVENTH STREET ELEVATION