Anyone who knows me knows I don’t spend much time cooking. That makes it a little funny that these advertisements caught my eye. They both ran on the same page in the September 25, 1911 Washington Herald. While it was the “Cook With Gas” advertisement that initially attracted my attention, it was the sister advertisement on that same page that really piqued my interest in learning more.
Both advertisements were advertising a free cooking “programme” sponsored by the newspaper featuring Mrs. Helen Armstrong who was, according to the advertisement, “a celebrated lecturer and exponent of the cooking art.” She was a contributor to Home helps, a pure food cook book; a useful collection of up-to-date, practical recipes by five of the leading culinary experts in the United States. The “programme” was going to be a multi-day event at the Arcade with daily lessons on several different recipes including roast lamb, broiled bacon, fairy fruit salad, and other intriguing items.
While my colleagues in Science may be more interested in the cooking event, I was more interested in the Arcade.
The Arcade, located at 14th Street NW and Park Road, was designed by Averill & Adams and was finished in 1910. An article published at the time of the opening in the December 9, 1910 Washington Post provides more details:
The market occupies the entire first floor of the big Arcade building. A large enclosed paved plaza has been provided for country wagons. A series of refrigerating rooms for the several classes of goods is located in the rear, as is a large room lined with cork and cement for the cold storage of furs and rugs. Arrangement has been made for delivery automobiles to enter the building and load under cover. A balcony for ladies overlooks the entire market.
The directors of the company are Emile Berliner, William H. Rapley, Charles J. Brown, Wade H. Atkinson, F.L. Averill, Hugh Reilly, A. F. Jorss, Fred S. Smith, Joseph W. Cox, R.A. Foster, W.W. Poultney, and Robert B. Caverly.
The officers of the company are Emile Berliner, president; Wade H. Atkinson and William H. Rapley, vice presidents; Charles J. Brown, treasurer, Wade H. Atkinson, and F.L. Averill, secretary and general manager. “Arcade Market Ready” Washington Post, December 9, 1910, p. 10.
Basically the building was multi-purpose. A large part of the building was devoted to being a market selling meats, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. A pre Christmas advertisement for the market advertised all sorts of foodstuffs needed for the holidays from vendors like De Giorgio & Sons, who sold turkeys, J. Temin selling hams and sausages, and W. M. Turner & Co selling fish and oysters. Washington papers included in Chronicling Americaran some great advertisements for the market around Christmas and Thanksgiving, and many of the vendors ran advertisements on their own on the Market Basket section of the Washington Times. There was also a branch of the Park Savings Bank.
There was also space dedicated to sporting events like Georgetown basketball, skating races, and hockey (on skates) along with other amusements like bowling, roller skating, and dances in the ballroom. The Arcade obviously hosted cooking events but it seemed to also be a meeting place for groups like the Lincoln Post of the American Legion.
The building went though a few changes over the years. In the earlier days it included a store by the name of Swan’s, in 1920 a Piggly Wiggly moved into the building, and in 1936 G. C. Murphy also moved in. It continued as a market until it was torn down in 1948. Currently, DCUSA a relatively new building sits there, with tenants like Target, IHOP, Petco, Staples, etc.
Like those featured in today’s post, advertisements can catch your attention and prod you to learn more by providing an interesting way to start to learn about the past. They can also give insight into the history of cities and neighborhoods, tell you about businesses that are no longer around but were important in their day, and open a window onto some of the more the practical aspects of daily life.
Note: While I cannot prove it, the Emile Berliner who was an Arcade executive/director may be Emile Berliner of gramophone fame. I found no other Emile Berliners in D.C. at the time, his house was 2 blocks and a bit away from the Arcade at 1458 Columbia Road, and there are also two photos of the Arcade – one exterior and one interior – in the Berliner papers. Also, Berliner had an interest in public health, particularly modern techniques like pasteurization and quality controls in the production of milk.