Since January, 2003
            
 (a random before-and-after moment)
March 19, 2011
May 2, 2013
2nd (West) at Virginia, Looking South-Southeast (see more)

(For someone who graduated from college with a degree in history, I have done a lousy job over the years of documenting the history of Near Southeast with anything approaching the zeal of my coverage of its present and future. I can offer no good excuses, but I'm going to begin to rectify this with a new series, "Sunday Rearview Mirror." I don't pretend to have the level of knowledge or experience of the pre-ballpark era as those who passed through Near Southeast during those years, but hopefully by taking the time every so often to highlight and describe events from the past I can help make sure that the new residents and workers who only recently heard of Near Southeast have some awareness of the people and events that came before them.)
It was in the 1970s that the western edge of Near Southeast became home to a new entertainment district for the city's gay residents, with its remoteness and lack of nearby residences allowing some measure of freedom for a culture that was only just beginning to step out of the closet. The area between South Capitol and First streets--with clubs like the Lost and Found, Club Baths II, Grand Central, Waaay off Broadway and Washington Square--became home not only to nightclubs with dancing and music but also but bathhouses, x-rated movie cinemas, and strip clubs. One of the new clubs was the Cinema Follies, which opened in 1975 at 37 L St., SE, showing x-rated gay films.
On Oct. 24, 1977, an explosion on the ground floor triggered by cleaning chemicals started a fire, with flames quickly consuming carpeting and wall hangings, blocking the exit for the patrons who had been in the 50-seat second floor theater. The fire never reached the second floor, but the smoke quickly became overpowering. However, a door that led to the roof was padlocked, and the windows had been replaced with cinderblocks. According to the Washington Post's account, "most of the victims were found in the orange-and-black theater seats [...] and may have been overcome by the smoke before they realized what was happening."
Nine people died as a result of the fire, making it the deadliest fire in Washington DC up to that time, a mark that stood until a fire at an unlicensed group home on Lamont Street, NW, killed 10 in April 1979. Identification of those who died at the Follies was hampered by the fact that, as the Post reported, "Many homosexuals do not carry identification when they visit homosexual gathering places," being "wary about the possibility of jeopardizing jobs or social position by having nonhomosexuals learn of their sexual orientation" in case their presence at club might be made public "through a police raid or other event."
(An interesting sidelight to the issue of identification was a column by Post ombudsman Charles Seib soon after the fire, questioning the Post's decision to not use the full names of some of those who died and no names at all of the injured. The column quoted then-Managing Editor Howard Simon as saying that the paper's main motivation was "compassion for the wives and children" [since some of the victims were married] but Seib went on to ask whether this approach had the effect of "underscoring the stigma of homosexuality, of shoving it back in the closet at a time when efforts are being made to bring it out and address it as a social fact?" This is an issue that papers still clearly struggle with, even today.)
William Oates, the manager of the club, was eventually fined $650 in 1979 for violating four building codes, though city officials stated that Oates "did everything possible" to try to comply with the laws, but poor city record keeping and poorly written codes made it difficult. (The city did work to strengthen its codes in the wake of the fire.) However, nearly eight years after the fire, in September of 1985, families of four of the victims were awarded more than $1.5 million in a civil suit against the club's owners.
Within a year or the fire, Oates opened "The Follies" at its new location at 24 O St., SE, where it operated until it was demolished with many other gay nightclubs in May 2006 to make way for Nationals Park. Somewhat amazingly, the building where the Cinema Follies fire took place, which was not all that heavily damaged, still stands today, on L Street directly across from the under-construction 1015 Half office building. It's currently home to a cab company.
I plan to write more Rear-View Mirror entries in the future about the neighborhood's past as a nightclub district, but until then, this 2003 pamphlet by the Rainbow History Project gives a great overview of the clubs that used to be such an integral part of Washington's gay culture. Hard to believe that, when the pamphlet was written, the authors had no idea how little time the existing clubs had left.
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IMGoph says: (6/6/10 5:55 PM)
now THIS is what a good neighborhood blog is all about. bravo, JD!


Spoofy says: (6/6/10 10:08 PM)
VERY interesting! Please keep up the good work and excellent writing.


DG says: (6/6/10 10:35 PM)
Thanks JD! Very interesting!


MJM says: (6/7/10 7:59 AM)
Yes, very interesting article!! Just always thought that building was taxi cab related. Looking forward to next Sunday's piece.


JD says: (6/7/10 9:22 AM)
Thanks, everyone. I'm not sure the Rear-View Mirror posts will be *every* Sunday, maybe every other week or so. Don't want to blow through all the content too quickly! :-)


Michael says: (6/8/10 5:58 PM)
On the day that the fire happened, I was there at 5:00pm, noted that there was not "much action," and left to do some bar hopping. I got home at 10:00pm that evening, in time for the news, and heard that the fire had started around 5:30pm. Since then, I have met people who were even luckier than I was. One gentleman that I talked with told me that he heard the explosion right after he left the building. The next day, at my job at the Pentagon, there were lots of "jokes" about the fire. I was so angry at the insensitivity of people!!! This was so sad!!!


JD says: (6/8/10 10:49 PM)
Thanks for posting, Michael. I was wondering whether anyone who was there or who had first-hand knowledge of it might be reading.


Kevin says: (6/9/10 3:05 PM)
Thanks JD! I worked at those clubs... (tee hee!) and that is some very important history. 1975 - who knew gays existed back THEN! LOL. ;-)


andy says: (6/14/10 6:02 PM)
When talking about the clubs in the area at the time - gotta give a big shoutout to the PIER ONE - I spent much of my formative years there


In my day says: (6/17/10 4:45 PM)
Fascicnating.. Thanks so much !!

I think it is so important to understand that Marion Barry was very much behind the developement of the Gay Scene in those days. It pains me now to hear the ongoing 'West Hollywoodisms' attributed to Fenty and the current council when Barry deserves more 'credit' than anyone. It was never about race then. I guess grandstanding then it no different than grandstanding now.

Thanks Again for this

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City Government Data for Near Southeast Records added or updated recently displayed here; click the "archive" links to see additional detail and older records. All data from DC Government databases and RSS feeds. JDLand takes no responsibility for errors, omissions, etc. (read CapStat disclaimer). Data is retrieved daily.

Recent Crime Incidents Archive  
300 B/O VIRGINIA AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 06/18/18
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 06/18/18
800 B/O L ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 06/18/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 06/16/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Building)
 06/11/18
1100 B/O 8TH ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 06/10/18
UNIT B/O L ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 06/09/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 06/06/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 06/04/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 06/04/18
700 B/O L ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 05/29/18
1000 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 05/28/18
1100 B/O 10TH ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 05/26/18
1100 B/O 9TH ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 05/25/18
UNIT B/O I ST SE   THEFT
Theft First Degree (all Other Larceny)
 05/25/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Building)
 05/22/18
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (theft From Building)
 05/21/18

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1018 3RD ST SE   
06/06/18 
DAVID A LEINER / SCOTT STERL
F1800474 / CONSTRUCTION
REPLACEMENT OF AN EXISTING CHAIN LINK FENCE TO A WOODEN FENCE 6FT. TALL.
1212 4TH ST SE   
06/06/18 
null / THAIS NA PEACHER
EHOP18924304 / HOME OCCUPATION
101 H ST SE   
05/23/18 
SQUARE 737 LLC / null
P1806213 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
06/05/18 
SQUARE 737 LLC / JOHN SONNER 4438727277
E1807389 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
06/06/18 
SQUARE 737 LLC / null
P1806501 / SUPPLEMENTAL
2 I ST SE   
05/31/18 
CRESCENT CAPITOL VIEW / null
E1807278 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
05/23/18 
CRESCENT CAPITAL VIEW, LLC / ERICKA CLARK
TC1800034 / CONSTRUCTION
Renewal of tower crane permit #TC1700022 EXTENSION WILL EXPIRE ON 11 / 23 / 2018
202 M ST SE   
05/29/18 
null
E1807211 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
05/29/18 
null
P1806323 / SUPPLEMENTAL
100 M ST SE   
06/05/18 
SQUARE 743 INC / ROBERT L HUNTER 703-404-0303
M1802631 / SUPPLEMENTAL
202 M ST SE   
05/31/18 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / null
P1806387 / SUPPLEMENTAL
300 M ST SE   
05/25/18 
FEDERAL CENTER LP / GARY BRENT; CARLOS DIAZ
SG1800308 / CONSTRUCTION
Install 2 illuminated wall signs and 1 temporary Banner - Sprint
   
06/01/18 
FEDERAL CENTER LP / SAM HOLLEN
B1809520 / CONSTRUCTION
INTERIOR RENOVATION TO 8TH FLOOR OFFICE SPACE. PARTITIONS, FURNITURE, MECHANICAL, ELECTRICAL AND LIFE SAFETY. NO PLUMBING OR STRUCTURAL. 860 SQUARE FEET. STRATEGIC INSIGHT
410 M ST SE   
05/30/18 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA HOUSING AUTHORITY / SCOTT NICHOLS
AN1800023 / CONSTRUCTION
AT&T proposes to add three new antennas to an existing rooftop telecommunications facility.
800 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
05/24/18 
SQUARE 737 LLC / null
P1806243 / SUPPLEMENTAL
861 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
05/23/18 
CONSOLIDATED RAIL CORPORATION / NA CSX TRANSPORTATION INC.
AH1800974 / CONSTRUCTION
Work in public ROW within the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Reconstruction Project LOD for utility, demolition, and concrete structure construction activities. **TO EXCLUDE LEGAL HOLIDAYS**
1115 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
06/07/18 
DONOHOE REAS ESTATE SERVICES / null
E1807467 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1115 NEW JERSEY AVE SE 20003   
06/14/18 
GALLERY CAPITOL RIVERFRONT PROPERTY LLC / THOMAS P MCGUIRE 410-766-7463
E1807687 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
06/14/18 
GALLERY CAPITOL RIVERFRONT PROPERTY LLC / THOMAS P MCGUIRE 410-766-7463
E1807698 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1115 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
06/12/18 
GALLERY CAPITOL WATERFRONT PROPERTY LLC / null
P1806653 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1100 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
06/12/18 
SQUARE 742 LLC / CLIFFORD DIXON
B1807730 / CONSTRUCTION
REVISION: REVISE B1804348 5TH FLOOR OFFICE SPACE TO EXTEND THE OFFICE INTO ADDITIONAL SPACE TO CREATE A LARGER OPEN OFFICE
71 POTOMAC AVE SE   
05/30/18 
FORIDA ROCK PROPERTIES INC / ANKIT K SINGH
UT1800044 / CONSTRUCTION
Removal of an Underground storage Tank (UST) 7 feet in diameter and approximately 16 feet long (approximately 6,000 gallons). Suspected Fuel Tank. Tank is filled with water and soil. Tank will be cleaned, removed and disposed off as per the appropriate standards and requirements.
221 TINGEY ST SE   
06/05/18 
GONE YARD HOTEL OWNER LLC / MITCH PERMUY 7272100491
E1807017 / SUPPLEMENTAL
227 TINGEY ST SE   
05/25/18 
FOREST CITY WASHINGTON / MELISSA DIAZ
B1801871 / CONSTRUCTION
Yards Parcel L-2. New 11-story mixed use building with residential, retail on ground level, and underground parking garage. TPR
   
05/31/18 
FOREST CITY WASHINGTON / DANIEL P. THOMPSON
P1806388 / SUPPLEMENTAL
(2) Backwater valve
   
06/07/18 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / MICHAEL ERIC CAMPBELL 571-229-1360
M1802664 / SUPPLEMENTAL
Equipment Manufacturer Equipment Model AAON DOAS, RTU and AHU DAIKIN VRF and split systems DESERT AIRE LC06R7NFDDMLAERD
   
06/07/18 
FOREST CITY WASHINGTON / DANIEL P. THOMPSON
P1806553 / SUPPLEMENTAL
REVISION TO P1806388. IN LIEU OF 753 SINKS SHOULD READ 264 SINKS, 489 BASINS
300 TINGEY ST SE   
06/04/18 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / ALBERT E. WILLIAMS 443-532-0991
M1802615 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
06/04/18 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / null
P1806437 / SUPPLEMENTAL
   
06/05/18 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / CARLOS E. MONTES
P1806464 / SUPPLEMENTAL
355 WATER ST SE   
06/14/18 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / EDUARDO LOPEZ 2023884000
E1807680 / SUPPLEMENTAL
355 WATER ST ST SE   
06/13/18 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / KIMBERLY SPEED
TN1800127 / CONSTRUCTION
The Great Lawn at Yards Park will be the site of the California State Society Annual Summer Picnic. The contract specifies the licensee to obtain permits for tents and generators on the lawn. The large tent is 100 x 40 - which I have the Certificate of Flame Resistance), as well as a generator. I have the generator specifications from the distributor.
AH = After Hours; B = Alteration & Repair; D = Demolition; E = Electrical; FB = Boiler; M = Mechanical; P = Plumbing and Gas; PC = Post Card; R = Raze; SG = Sign; TL = Tenant Layout; TN = Tent; RW = Retaining Wall;

Real Property Sales Archive  
No commercial transaction records added or modified in the past two weeks.


Project Directory
Completed
99 M ('18)
Agora ('18)
1221 Van ('18)
District Winery ('17)
Insignia on M ('17)
F1rst/Residence Inn ('17)
One Hill South ('17)
Homewood Suites ('16)
ORE 82 ('16)
The Bixby ('16)
Dock 79 ('16)
Community Center ('16)
The Brig ('16)
Park Chelsea ('16)
Yards/Arris ('16)
Hampton Inn ('15)
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
11th St. Bridges ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Cap. ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)


Overviews
Capper/Carrollsburg
Anacostia Riverwalk
New Jersey Avenue
M Street
South Capitol Street
The Yards
Lower 8th Street
East M Street
Boathouse Row





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