Adolf Cluss (third from right) poses before the finished Eastern Market.
Included in his original plans for the city, Pierre L’Enfant designated space for local markets. From this plan, Eastern Market emerged. Eastern Market, completed in 1873, was designed by a German-born immigrant named Adolf Cluss. A renowned local architect of his time, Cluss designed the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building, which to this day is a prominent building on The Mall.
As Capitol Hill's population grew in the early 20th Century, a new addition to Eastern Market, consisting of the Center and North Halls, was added. During these expansions, Eastern Market was unofficially recognized as the "town center" of Capitol Hill.
Life at the market progressed uninterrupted into the 21st century until one fateful spring day in 2007. In the early hours of April 30, 2007 the Capitol Hill neighborhood woke to the sound of fire sirens and the smell of smoke. In a matter of hours, Eastern Market was critically damaged by fire. Though the cause of the fire is still debated, its effect was unanimous… the market must be rebuilt! The day after the blaze, Mayor Adrian Fenty pledged to rebuild the damaged market and restore its historic architectural features. In an unprecedented public-private partnership, the Capitol Hill Community Foundation and the Government of the District of Columbia joined to preserve not just an architectural edifice, but the livelihoods that the market sustained and the community the market had fostered.
Photo by Val Proudki
View of the South Hall Market from C Street the morning after the fateful blaze (5/1/07).
In the days after the fire, the Foundation supplied the South Hall merchants with resources that enabled them to continue to operate outdoors on the Farmers’ Line. Simultaneously, the city built a temporary home for the merchants…the East Hall. The East Hall sheltered the merchants until the historic market reopened on June 26, 2009.
Photo by Sean Madigan
Mayor Adrian Fenty and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton officially open the market on 6/26/09.
Eastern Market is one of the few historic public market buildings left in Washington, DC and the only one that has retained its original public market function. The Eastern Market building is designated as National Historic Landmarks. The market had been in continuous operation since 1873.
A view of the restored South Hall Market from 7th Street.
Photo by Jennifer Todd