Since January, 2003
            
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They say you never really know what's going on inside the walls of someone's home, and that certainly would have been the case if you had wandered by the northwest corner of Half and N in the early 1980s. The red brick rowhouse at 36 N Street, SE (seen at left in May 2003) would have looked unassuming enough to you, until you opened up your copy of the Washington Post on March 2, 1981, and read this:
"It was his first night at The Playground Swing Club in Southeast Washington, and the 37-year-old Army veteran was ready. He stripped and headed up the red-carpeted stairs to the lounge where a few men and women, most dressed only in robes, were sitting on cushioned floors and platforms. [...] Soon, he and a young woman he had never before met strolled into The Playroom, where bodies were lying in all directions on mattresses and a raised platform. He and the woman joined in. 'Everybody freeze!" a voice suddenly shouted. 'This is a raid!' "
DC police had spent six weeks investigating The Playground, work which included having two undercover police couples "stripped to their underwear [who] spent three hours listening to the friendly discussions and watching the lovemaking." But when the bust happened in February of 1981, there were no charges of anyone paying for sex: the owner eventually was sentenced to 30 days in jail and fined $500 for operating a public hall without a license and failing to have a proper certificate of occupancy for the club. An additional charge of selling alcohol without a license was dropped.
A few of the "participants" at the house that night were charged under the city's sodomy laws, which brought swift condemnation from the ACLU: "Sexual conduct between consenting adults is none of the government's business." The raid also made for titillating reading in the Post, as the paper dryly explained the "swinging" culture: "What was happening at The Playground was a plain and simple orgy--an activity that seems to have become as common among a certain underground of adults as was dancing cheek-to-cheek in the 1930s."
The Playground was closed soon after, and a 1982 attempt to turn 36 N into an "erotica museum" was shot down by the city and neighbors. The rowhouse itself lasted until 2005, getting demolished two years before its neighbors met the wrecking ball as well. The site, now owned by Akridge as part of its Half Street footprint, is directly across from Nationals Park (which I guess you could also call a swinging establishment!), where the Bullpen now provides a different brand of entertainment during baseball season.
As for the Playground's owner? It was Dennis Sobin, longtime city activist and current mayoral candidate. A profile of Sobin earlier this year by the Georgetown Voice gives a quick summary of his years in Washington, including his ownership of multiple strip clubs, adult bookstores, and brothels in the late 70s, a third-place finish in the 1982 mayor's race, and a 10-year prison term in Florida on child pornography charges. He currently runs the Prisons Foundation, devoted to prison artists and their work.
(And no, I had no idea that this little item would end up tied to current city politics when I started!)
Comments (2)
   
 
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Jay says: (7/19/10 9:13 AM)
As I have said before, it was a paradox that this site was not highly thought of when the Post was ranking the possible ballpark sites.

Maybe this helps explain it, its sordid past, if you will.


c says: (7/19/10 2:51 PM)
ah the good old days, all that old fun used to come cheap, now it's $7 for a Hebrew National and more if you want a beer

I just hope they recycled the brick at that old dive - psyche

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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  
1200 B/O HALF ST SE   ROBBERY  10/21/20
UNIT B/O K ST SE   THEFT
Theft First Degree (all Other Larceny)
 10/20/20
900 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 10/15/20
600 B/O L ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 10/13/20
UNIT B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 10/12/20
1000 B/O 1ST ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 10/12/20
1100 B/O NEW JERSEY AVE SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree (all Other Larceny)
 10/09/20
1000 B/O 8TH ST SE   ROBBERY
Armed Carjacking
 10/09/20
400 B/O M ST SE   THEFT
Theft 2nd Degree - Felony (theft From Building)
 10/07/20
900 B/O M ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 10/01/20
1000 B/O 3RD ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 09/30/20
UNIT B/O K ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 09/29/20
1100 B/O 2ND PLACE SE   ROBBERY
Assault W/i To Commit Robbery (simple Assault)
 09/28/20
1000 B/O 4TH ST SE   ROBBERY
Carjacking
 09/26/20
1200 B/O HALF ST SE   MOTOR VEHICLE THEFT
Theft First Degree (Stolen Auto)
 09/22/20
600 B/O L ST SE   THEFT FROM AUTO
Theft (theft From Motor Vehicle)
 09/21/20

Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1108 3RD ST SE   
10/06/20 
JULIANA DUFFY / null
E2100156 / SUPPLEMENTAL
915 5TH ST SE   
10/14/20 
RYAN DANIELS / FERNANDO A ANGULO; RYAN DANIELS
B2012669 / CONSTRUCTION
Partial floor joists replacement on first floor. replace 6 feet height wooden fence and gate. add protective coating to partial foundation wall.
1031 5TH ST SE   
09/30/20 
CLARICE GEE / null
P2009304 / SUPPLEMENTAL
150 I ST SE   
10/09/20 
SQUARE 737 LLC / JASON D DORRIS
AH2100047 / CONSTRUCTION
Construction of a new 13 story apartment building with three below grade parking levels, 1st floor retail and amenity areas; 373 units and 181 parking spaces. To include mechanical, electrical, plumbing, elevators and structural work.
   
10/15/20 
SQUARE 737 LLC / BOB BIROONAK; BOB BIROONAK
SG2000458 / CONSTRUCTION
one directional double face non illuminated sign
100 M ST SE   
09/25/20 
LHREV WASHINGTON M STREET LLC / THUY LE; NA
B2010745 / CONSTRUCTION
Suite 950 - Interior alteration. Work is to include minor change in MEP and Fire. No Structure.
139 N ST SE   
10/08/20 
null
SH2000028-EXT-1 / CONSTRUCTION
Original Permit expires 4 / 15 / 2021, 1st extension expires 10 / 15 / 2021
861 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
10/13/20 
CXS TRANSPORTATION INC / null
P2100338 / SUPPLEMENTAL
125 O ST SE   
10/02/20 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA / null
M2100033 / SUPPLEMENTAL
71 POTOMAC AVE SE   
10/15/20 
RIVERFRONT HOLDINGS II, LLC / OLUSOLA PYNE
B2100519 / CONSTRUCTION
Shipping Container placement on lot for exterior use.
227 TINGEY ST SE   
09/30/20 
FC 227, LLC / BRIAN QUINN
B2011139 / CONSTRUCTION
Conversion of apartment unit to model unit.
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
Thompson Hotel ('20)
West Half ('19)
Novel South Capitol ('19)
Yards/Guild Apts. ('19)
Capper/The Harlow ('19)
New DC Water HQ ('19)
Yards/Bower Condos ('19)
Virginia Ave. Tunnel ('19)
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)


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