Hockemeyer Hall From Sixth Street NW

]Hockemeyer Hall

719 Sixth Street NW

...is a grand circa 1889 townhouse, with a large Paladian-windowed turn-of-the-last century addition out back. It is one of the more distinctive buildings in Chinatown, sitting just up the street from the Oriental Building Association, subject of an HPRB hearing in February.

While 719 Sixth Street is a splendid building in its own right, it has been the scene of much history. Originally it was known as “Hockemeyer’s Hall” after its builder, who constructed it as a residence for himself as well as a clubhouse. In the 1890s it served a wide variety of organizations and fraternal groups, including a German technological society and the “Jolly Fat Man Club”. Apparently it contained one of the early bowling alleys in Victorian Washington.

In 1901, “Doctor Davison” moved his dancing academy, where over 3,000 couples were instructed in “the light fantastic” to 719 and added “a private ballroom second to none in Washington, if not the United States”, to the original house. During Teddy Roosevelt’s administration, 719 was re-incarnated as “Federal Union Hall”, the headquarters of various Republican party organizations. It also was much in the news as the headquarters and meeting place of the association of Spanish-American War veterans.

During the nineteen-teens, 719 Sixth became associated with the union movement, especially with women’s labor organizations. It served as a meeting place for such organizations as the typographers, carmen, electricians, waitresses and stenographers’ unions. It was also the site of the Women’s Union Committee meeting in 1918 to protest the War Labor Board’s decision to fire the female street car conductors of Cleveland and the 1919 meeting of the committee to support Miss Alice Wood, the Western High School teacher suspended without a hearing for “indiscreet discussion” of social and industrial problems in class. Among the famous figures who reportedly spoke at 719 Sixth Street were Jeanette Rankin and pioneering Washington Teacher's Union President Alice Deal.

After the a raze permit application was filed, the DC Preservation League filed a landmark nomination for Hockemeyer Hall in March 2004. Negotiations led to an agreement in 2005 to substantially preserve the building as part of a new office development.

BELOW: Hockemeyer Hall's splendid doorway

BOTTOM: The 1893 clubhouse addition

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