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PROJECT : The Historic Car Barn
ADDRESS : 3600 M Street, NW, Washington, DC

Georgetown University School of Business occupies the majority of the office space in this Historic Building. The fourth floor has a terrace which was renovated in 1999 as an outdoor pavilion. The building offers 83,000 square feet of space.

History of The Car Barn:

A Story with an Eighteenth Century beginning brought up to date Georgetown's famous Car Barn in the Eighteenth Century was an old tobacco warehouse. The original foundation on which the Car Barn is presently resting was constructed about two hundred years ago in 1761. Today on the walls of the Director's Room of the Executive Offices of DC Transit at the Car Barn appear murals indicating the appearance and topography of the Car Barn as it existed in the Eighteenth Century.

Vessels of this era were docked at a point just under the present Key Bridge to unload tobacco for auction on sale and storage at the Car Barn. About 1861 this pre-Revolutionary building was converted to the first building housing horse drawn trolley cars from which it acquired its special name - The Car Barn. Both horses and trolley cars were quartered here.

The first reported public transportation was established in Washington, DC in the year of 1800. In May of that year, two horse coaches began operation from Bridge and High Streets (now Wisconsin and M Street) in Georgetown by way of M Street and Pennsylvania Avenue to William Tunnicliffs Tavern at the site now occupied by the US Supreme Court Building.

Two companies, The Washington and Georgetown Railway and the Columbia Railway promptly changed Pennsylvania Avenue, 14th Street, 7th Street and H Street to cable operation. Other companies such as the Metropolitan Railway had too many curves for practical cable operation, particularly on waht became known as the Mount Pleasant line, so they continued with horses. Congress, however, in 1890 tired of the Metropolitan Railway's delay and gave them two years to substitute other power for horses. In spite of the edict, it was closer to four years, in 1894, after much experimentation and with considerable misgivings, the Metropolitan Railway put into operation the underground conduit system as we know it today; the first successful installation in the Western Hemisphere.

The Act of Congress of August 23, 1894, authorizing the extension west to 36th and M required the erection of "A Union Station For The Use Of All Roads That Might Terminate At That Point". Waddy Wood, a prominent architect, designed a massive structure to serve as a terminal for four roads. The building was 180 feet by 242 feet and three stories high. The Washington and Georgetown lines would use the ground floor on M Street while the Washington, Arlington, Falls Church, the projected Great Falls and Old Dominion were to come across the Potomac from Rosslyn entering the second and third floors respectively on steel trestles. The Metropolitan Railroad would use the roof.
In early 1895 construction began. The terminal, known as Union Station, contained waiting rooms, toilets, and terminal offices for the various railways on the M street side of the upper floors. D.C. Carll, Chief Engineer and Superintendent of Capital Tracdon, was in charge of construction.

As far as Capital Tracdon was concerned, the terminal opened May 27, 1897, and contained Washington's only cable loop, although for less than a year.
The 140-foot central tower contained an elevator for transferring passengers between the various terminals. On the roof, a central covered passageway connected the elevators with the Metropolitan Railroad on Prospect Street. Passenger rooms were handsomely furnished in red oak wainscotting, delicately tinted walls, granata floors, paneled ceilings of stucco, ornate black iron grills and stair railings.

The grandeur that might have been never came to pass, for the Virginia roads never used the terminal, nor did the Metropolitan Railroad to the extent envisioned. There were to be storage tracks on the roof for the Metropolitan Railroad, but all that ever existed was the covered walkway.

At about the turn of the century, the building was considered at its peek as a modern and functional structure. From 1900 to 1956, it deteriorated to such a point that when it was acquired in 1956 by the DC Transit System from its predecessor, Capital Transit Company, the new management had a difficult decision to make; either to demolish the building or to reconstruct it. Its interior condition was generally decrepit and unbelievably shabby. The DC Transit System, because of its respect and affection for the historical significance of this unusual structure, chose the latter course and engaged in as extensive mega-million dollar program of rehabilitation and redevelopment.

By 1933, the operating facilities of the Capital Traction Company and the Washington Railway and Electric Company were merged to form the Capital Transit Company. The Washington Rapid Transit Company was purchased outright in 1936, making the merger of Washington mass transportation facilities complete.

The years to follow brought about many changes. In 1949 Louis Wolfson purchased controlling interest in Capital Transit Company. After numerous stormy sessions with regulatory bodies, Congress revoked the company's franchise, and on August 5, 1956 O. Roy Chalk purchased Capital Transit System, Inc. It was at the time that company's name was changed to DC Transit System, and it was the beginning of a "New Frontier of Transportation" in the Nation's Capital, Maryland and Virginia.


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