Photo by Andrew Lightman

Monte Edwards

When the 1999 Eastern Market legislation mandated creation of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee, the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association chose Monte Edwards as its representative. 

He became chair of the Capital Improvements Subcommittee, and that role put him at the crux of efforts to stabilize Eastern Market's building and upgrade its systems, planning that had reached the 95% stage just before the 2007 fire. In this 2009 interview with Dilshika Jayamaha, Monte provides details about what happened next, the decisions needed to execute a complete renovation combining historical accuracy with modern facilities. As background, he credits many of the people involved in previous efforts regarding Eastern Market.

Read Transcript
Interview Date
July 17, 2009
Dilshika Jayamaha
Anna Nadgrodkiewicz

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JAYAMAHA: This is Dilshika Jayamaha. I’m interviewing Mr. Monte Edwards, Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee member and Chair of Capital Improvements Subcommittee. It’s July 17, 2009 and we are meeting at Coldwell Bank premises at 605 Pennsylvania Avenue SE, Washington D.C. Thank you very much, Mr. Edwards for agreeing to speak with us and for joining me this afternoon. Perhaps what would be useful is if you could start off by talking a little bit about your involvement with Eastern Market and your current roles as well.

EDWARDS: Let me back up one step from that and let me say that when you introduced me as a member of EMCAC, it gave the impression that it was a membership organization. The membership is defined by statute, the statute written by Sharon Ambrose as the Eastern Market legislation in 1999. It took two years to formulate the legislation. At the same time this legislation was formulated, they also placed Eastern Market under a new government entity called the Office of Property Management. So the two went hand in hand. They tried to see if we had one more chance of resolving the issues that have plagued Eastern Market for 30 years. And literally, there were designs to put a mezzanine in the North Hall, there were designs to tear it down and the community became very polarized and some people have characterized the Eastern Market legislation as the treaty that ended the 30 years war of Eastern Market.

Now, as I said, EMCAC is defined by statute and it has members from community groups, government groups, and the vendors. I represent the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association. I’m elected by my organization to represent that organization. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society has a representative. The Eastern Market Preservation and Development Corporation has a member. The ANC [Advisory Neighborhood Commission] has a member. The Mayor has a representative. Councilmember Wells has a member. The South Hall food vendors have a member. The farmers’ line has a member. And then the outside craft vendors, the nonfood vendors have a representative. Plus the fact that there is an independent community representative elected by EMCAC from applicants that in our estimation best represent the interests and the viewpoint of the community. So when we sit down and we debate something we have the perspective of the people that are selling there, we have the perspective of the community organizations, we have feedback immediate to the government, to the Mayor’s office and to the Councilmember, and we have the Advisory Neighborhood Commission represented. So you bring together all these people and you don’t always have complete agreement but we have been able to achieve a high degree of consensus over the last nine years that have helped bring Eastern Market to where it is now.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

JAYAMAHA: Thank you, that is very useful to know that. If you could talk a little bit about, Mr. Edwards, your role within EMCAC?

EDWARDS: My role is Chairman of Capital Improvements Subcommittee―Subcommittee because the nature of our organization is the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee. But we are by statute required to advise the Office of Property Management for any plan for renovation or repair or capital improvement at the Market. We’re required to advise the Office of Property Management about the selection of architects. We’re required to advise them about the request for proposal that they issue to hire an architect and then once they get those responses there, we sit down and we analyze them, we develop criteria. Initially for the structure analysis and what was needed at Eastern Market, we recommended that Heery International be hired―and they were. And they did an analysis of what the Market needed and they designed the farmers’ line shed. But with that done we had an idea what direction to go in. And at that point it was taking care of immediate problems. Immediate problems, I mean, the sanitary sewer system consisted of plastic pipe that was above grade in the basement and leaking raw sewage into the basement. The electric, some of the electric was overloaded. The wires were very old. There were leaks, there were problems with the brickwork deteriorating, the brownstone was deteriorating. And what we did, we came up with working with Quinn Evans Associates, who are the architects we recommended be hired.

We came up with the plan for stabilizing the building, stabilizing its infrastructure, stopping the water from coming in, stopping the sewage from leaking, making the electric system safer, upgrading to bring in additional electric capacity. We came up with the plan that would have cost something over three million dollars. There was at that time less than two million dollars available. What we did, we worked with Heery―excuse me, with Quinn Evans―and we came up with what is the most urgent, what needs to come first. And we spent every penny that we had in the capital budget to do these things and then we asked Quinn Evans to continue and do the proposal so that we can go to the City Council to get the money for the rest of it. And that’s where we were, we were at the 95% design stage in April of 2007 when the market burned. And because we’d done this homework, we knew what was needed, essentially, for infrastructure and once we had the commitment of the Mayor and city to rebuild the Market, we were then able to get the money to do the rebuilding and we went from approximately two million dollar repair and restoration to a 22 million dollar complete historic renovation. Because the fortunate thing about the fire, it had burned the artificial slate roof, it had burned the plastic glazing, it had compromised several things that had been added in a less-than historically sensitive renovation that was done in the 70s. So we were able to go back to the original design of Adolf Cluss, the 1873 design, the 1908 Ashford design and we were able to look at the essential elements of those. We were able to convince the city to pay for a

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

historic paint analysis where they actually took samples of the paint, analyzed them microscopically to see what the oldest layer was, and when you look today at the Market and you see that the trim on the South Hall is green and the trim on the North Hall is white. Well, 1873 all the trim was painted a dark color but by 1908 we had a little bit of a historic Georgian revival in American architecture and white was the trim. So while some people said, we should paint the Market to match the North and South Hall, the other view was, let’s show that they were of different vantages and let’s show the different tastes, and these were the colors that were the original colors, just like the salmon on the interior.

JAYAMAHA: Oh, that is wonderful, really. I was looking through your report on soon after the fire happened and there was a lot of very interesting details, especially what you just referred to in terms of really bringing back the historical aspects of the building, or restoring them.

EDWARDS: But in doing that restoring we also had to bring it up to modern codes and we had to make it a viable market. And we knew that a competent heating system was essential. The North Hall never had one. Air-conditioning the entire space was essential. Originally, the plan was, would have taken up the substantial part of the west facade driveway with air-conditioning units. We were able to work with Quinn Evans and find the space in what used to be the pottery studio to put the condensers and the compressors and hide that mechanical equipment. We were able to do air-handlers in the basement so that what you see in the South Hall is not a series of duct system; it’s a series of kiosks located in the wall that distribute the heated or cooled air, or ventilated air. And an interesting thing was last week with temperatures in the 80s. As a test they used the rooftop ventilators, the electric ventilators, bringing in air from the outside through the vent system and for two days they operated that with no air-conditioning at all. So we have the energy efficient and comfortable kind of heating/air-conditioning system that meets modern standards.

The other thing we did was―and there was quite a bit of controversy on this and I will confess that I sided with the historians who said that there is no evidence of there ever having been a skylight at Eastern Market. But when they looked at the roof they found that there were the frames that could have been used for skylights and from that they inferred that the intent was perhaps to put skylights in. On the other hand we had the historians who said the only kind of skylights that Adolf Cluss ever put in were the clerestories, the vertical skylights, and these are in the plane of the roof. And there is no history of Adolf Cluss ever designing such a system. So we had this kind of controversy going back and forth but what we ended up with was the fact that the merchants were concerned about what was happening in the East Hall. And because if you have too much brightness you have a washed-out appearance and if you ever visited Union Meat in the East Hall there was no red meat, it all looked pink because it was so bright. So the question was how to minimize the UV and the transmission light and the architects came up with

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

something called a fritted glass that has a pattern in it. There is almost zero UV transmission and 60% of the visible light is cut out, but we have a beautiful glowing brightness to the market without the washed- out appearance. One other thing we had to add was―you probably will never notice it unless you look very closely―but the South Hall glass is tinted, it has a grey tint. It cuts down the UV, it cuts down the transmitted light. The North Hall does not and you have to look very closely to see the difference between the two. By adding these two together we have controlled the amount of ambient light that enters. But the architects went one step further and in terms of the general area white, when you look up and you see those white troffer fluorescent lights that are eight upward, they’re all controlled on a dimmer. And when it’s bright outside, we turn them down, and at nighttime we turn them up. So the general illumination level stays fairly constant and we save electricity because we are using, we are using sunlight when it is available.

JAYAMAHA: Right. I mean that is really fascinating, Mr. Edwards. In terms of getting to those historical features, could you talk a little bit about maybe how, who is it who was actually looking at those features and ensuring that some of those were incorporated but also obviously it’s a great matching of the—making sure you’re restoring the historical pieces, sections of the building but also as you said making it energy efficient. How did that process work? Obviously like you said there might have been disagreements and so on, but how did the ideas really at the end of the day come together so well and then you actually see it physically having panned out extremely well?

EDWARDS: Well, I mentioned the 30 years war. At one time there was a plan to tear down the Market and it was saved not by the Restoration Society, not by Stanton Park, but by the Eastern Market Preservation and Development Corp. Mary Farrell who’s sometimes called a bit of a radical preservationist, she went out and documented the history of that building and got Department of Interior landmark status so it could not be torn down. And this was one individual. Mary Farrell was responsible, I think, for that. A large measure of that historic information that we have and that is available not only through at the Park Service, Department of Interior, but also though the DC Historic Preservation Office. Also, the Historic Preservation Office had a gentleman by the name of Steve Callcott who’s been there for a number of years and knew some of the disagreements about what to do and alternative plan for the development. And we engaged him very early on, my Subcommittee did, in terms of what we should do, what we should keep.

The other resource was the gentleman by the name of Steve Ackerman. Steve is a writer/historian. He’s done several books―well, he’s done quite a bit of research on Market and he has just written a book on Eastern Market that was sold at the opening day (an abbreviated version; and there will be a more complete version with footnotes available later). And he was someone that I would have coffee with and

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

talk to him about this is where we are and he’s say, “no, you can’t do that.” I’d go back to the architects and said, “the historic information is this,” and they’d say, “oh, but here is what we have.” And it was a waiting situation and by bringing all these together, which EMCAC has a unique ability to do, we were able to find not only what’s historically accurate but also what works as a modern market to make it viable today.

I don’t know if anyone has described to you the North Hall, but the North Hall was build as an extension of the Market in 1908 because there was such a demand. By 1929, though, supermarkets had come into Washington and the city tried first to consolidate and they closed down the North Hall and they turned it over to the fire department. And what is now the aquatic center used to be the local fire department and they used to store equipment in the North Hall. They decided that they needed something better for the farmers than the farmers just being exposed to the vagaries of the weather. So they’re going to build a shed and they had one designed. It was a lovely shed, I understand. I’ve never seen the design but this was 1931 now and this is Depression-era budgets. So the city said, “yup, that’s a good idea, build the cheapest thing you can.” And they put up two rows of columns, put a corrugated tin roof on it and that was the farmers’ line shed until 2005 when we replaced it with current shed that reflects the architectural details of the main building. But it was an up-and-down thing as to what was going to happen to the Market all through these years.

And John Harrod is another name that should be mentioned because he is the one who brought us Market 5 Gallery and said, “there is a better use to the North Hall than storing fire equipment or―by that time―it was being used by the Department of Transportation for storing some of their equipment. And he brought us the concept of a dance studio, a performing arts, visual arts, and he also brought the concept of the
craft market in the North Plaza. So a lot of what we know today and take for granted as Eastern Market, John Harrod did in terms of converting that North Hall into something that was more, in his mind, artsy. And the mind of then-mayor Marion Barry, he wanted an art center in every ward and this is Ward 6’s art center. But it had deteriorated, there was no maintenance done on it, and in the renovation a new floor was poured, heating was installed, air-conditioning was installed, lighting, the walls were redone in plasters they were originally, and importantly, a de-mountable dance stage was put in, a de-mountable stage was provided. And if you look up at the trusses there are three rows of theatrical lighting and if you wander when you come in the north entrance why the walls are so thick on that vestibule, if you open the doors on the side there is a professional theatrical dimming system for that theatrical lighting located up there. So they have done an excellent job of satisfy―and back now to Sharon Ambrose that said, “the North Hall shall be a community meeting space and art center.” And [unintelligible] further that the art center should be a performing arts, dance, and the use they’ve accommodated very nicely. If I can put a

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

commercial in right now, the art center is equal in weight under the statute to the community meeting space and they’ve got the dance floor, they’ve got the stage, they’ve got the lighting, they’ve got the catering kitchen. Where are the chairs for the community meeting space? They’re not there yet and I think that’s the next step that OPM has to take.

JAYAMAHA: OK. Well, that is really fascinating. I really enjoyed hearing about a lot of the details in terms of ... so much work has gone into the restored building. If you could backtrack a little bit, Mr. Edwards, you did say in 2007 you were planning for the restoration, you had the plan up to about 95 percent finished.

EDWARDS: Uh-huh.

JAYAMAHA: Obviously, that must have helped in terms of how quickly you were able to readjust things after the fire happened, but could you talk a little bit about besides what you talked about earlier— the 30 year war and some of the differences that people have had over the years. After the fire happened, could you talk a little bit about, sort of, your initial response, EMCAC’s response, and perhaps some of the things that you had to do in order to make those changes and to make this actually happen in what I could sort of see as a very short period of time?

EDWARDS: Yeah, before I start with capital improvements, let me start with what made all that possible. And the first thing was the commitment of the city that we will rebuild. And when they said we will rebuild and we’ll build a temporary structure for the merchants in the South Hall, we immediately knew that that was going to take some time to build no matter how fast they were. So the Capitol Hill [Community] Foundation founded, formed, the Eastern Market Committee. Gary Peterson was the Chairman and they raised over, almost half a million dollars, as in $470,000. They bought refrigerated trucks, they bought display tables, they bought scales and the merchants that were in the South Hall, within ten days, they were set up because we closed the Seventh Street off and they were selling in the street there. You could buy poultry, you could buy cheese, you could buy produce in the street while they were building the South [ed: East] Hall. And once they got the [East] Hall built, the [East] Hall was just built as just about exact to largely duplicate the size and configuration of the South Hall. So the merchants moved in there, they had the space similar to what they had before, and then when they moved back into the South Hall after the renovation, every merchant that was in the South Hall when it burned moved back in to renovated Market two years later. And to me that is not just the city, it’s the community pulling together to make sure that we say ... that the heart of the Market there is merchants were able to continue.

JAYAMAHA: That is really remarkable. As you say, Mr. Edwards, I think that this was one of those instances where the community and like you said the government, the administration, really everybody

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

came together at the right time. But overall could you talk a little bit about maybe did you have a lot of challenges in terms of reorienting things, even though there was so much of support, but you also needed to get things done quickly—could you talk a little bit about that process, not just challenges certainly but also some of the things maybe you need to over come them, but also what worked well?

EDWARDS: One thing that EMCAC takes credit for is—and here we had the results from the former historic designation write-ups, we had the photographs, and we knew the importance of what Adolf Cluss had done with the roof there at Eastern Market. Because Adolf Cluss, he left Germany in ... following the 1848 aborted revolution to try to unitize Germany. And Adolf Cluss was at that time the Secretary of the Communist Party and he left with two of his friends and they went to London and his two friends stayed in London, he came to America. His two friends were Marx and Engels and they wrote the Communist Manifesto. And Cluss came here and there is, I’ve seen, envelopes, address: Adolf Cluss, Secretary, Communist Party, U.S. Navy Yard. He worked at the Navy Yard as a craftsman and there was his office with Communist Party. But ... where were we going with this? [chuckle]

JAYAMAHA: In terms of the challenges ...EDWARDS: Oh, to get the job done!JAYAMAHA: Yes!

EDWARDS: About the same time that Cluss and from the same area of Germany fellow of a name of [Albert] Fink left. Now Fink went to work for the B&O Railroad, he was an engineer. And he designed some very innovative railroad trusses. They became known as Fink trusses and if you ... My training before, initially, was as an engineer and if you look at a diagram for a Fink truss and you’ll turn it upside down, you’ll have the roof trusses at Eastern Market. And Fink was in Baltimore; Cluss was in DC—I think there was a good chance the two socialized and probably Fink helped a bit in the design of that truss, but it was before we had modern seal [sealant]. So when you look up at those trusses, you see a diamond-shaped feature with four dimensions ... with, uh, three dimensional. That’s cast iron. You look at the rods they’re wrought iron. So it was before modern seal [sealant]. So they designed the truss using the tensile properties of wrought iron, the compression properties of cast iron, and all the connectors were cast iron. Unfortunately with the fire, the fire was primarily in the roof and it compromised it, and short of destructive testing they could not how much they were compromised.

So I wrote articles for CHRS [Capitol Hill Restoration Society] newsletter and there were other efforts to publicize the importance of those trusses and what the architects did, they went to a structural engineer and said, let’s use some high-strength steel, let’s replicate exactly the design, and make them strong

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

enough that we can replace every other one of the original trusses with high-strength steel and high- strength steel will carry the entire load of the roof, but the original trusses can stay there but they also have no structural purpose. That was one of the big challenges to maintain the integrity of the design and adapt it to a safe system. And it was strong enough that not only were they able to replicate the original sheeting boards in place of the plywood that you look up and see now; they were able to add insulation, they were able to put slate roof, a real slate roof back. And that slate roof matches the original slate roof because Bill Glagsow of Union Meat, when they did the restoration of ’74-’76 and replaced the roof with artificial slate, he kept some of the slate they removed, he had it at his home. He was able to give a piece to the architect and they were able to match the original 1873 slate color with what they put up now.


JAYAMAHA: Let’s pick up where we left off, Mr. Edwards, and you were just about to tell me, sort of, some of the things you did in order to make this new building happen, so if you could just continue, pick up from where we left off.

EDWARDS: I want to talk a little bit about the basement. We know the basement was used, the southern part, which is now the pottery studio, was sort of a refectory, it was called. It was sort of a rest area for the merchants. They could go down, relax, there were restrooms, kitchen there. And there is evidence there’s also a meeting hall because there was an element of the National Guard that met there during World War I. And the other part of the basement, the more northern portion we know at one time was actually a rifle range used by that National Guard troop. And the question was how to reclaim some of that. And if you look at the pottery studio now you can see very ornate cast iron columns that are very different from the plain brick arches in the rest of the basement and this is the reason. The other problem we saw was, all of the merchants now have refrigeration.

Originally, Adolf Cluss had designed a fairly innovative structure with thick wooden walls insulated in the basement, brought ice in, and refrigeration was accomplished by ice and the meat sellers, there were actual trap doors that would go from the main floor to the basement so they could bring their goods up and down through those trap doors. Well, by the 30s and 40s we had mechanical refrigeration and what you do, how do you accomplish refrigeration? You’re removing heat, is basically what you’re doing and making something cold. You don’t make it cold, you remove the heat from it. And to do that is like your home air conditioner: you have a refrigerant that removes the heat and then the heat has to be removed from the refrigerant. Outside it’s your outdoor air conditioning unit and you know when you put your hand over it it’s pretty warm. Well, those compressors and condensers were located in the basement and

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

they were distributed throughout the basement. And there were some electric fans blowing air out, which removed some of the heat, but on a summer day if you went in that basement the temperature was 110 degrees from the rejected heat; it couldn’t be used for anything because it was so unbearably hot. Matter of fact, even in the wintertime there was a certain amount of warmth that was given off to the slab from heat in the basement. So one of the challenges was how do we provide modern mechanical refrigeration for these people and also have a more usable basement space? Well, the solution was an insulated compressor room. In the basement now there is a dedicated room with insulated walls, ceiling, and floor that draws air in from the other side of the alley to vents and then rejects it through a grill adjacent to the west façade. So you get constant air circulation going through to remove that heat so it doesn’t build up in the basement. And that’s enabled us, the architects, to put it joint use refrigeration units in the basement, ah, freezers. And if you look at the alley, there’s yellow bollards and you might wonder why they’re there—there’s an elevator. Deliveries can be made from the alley to that elevator, lowered to the basement and stored in the freezers and the now usable basement space. The other thing is if you look across the alley there is more than one of these tall, chimney-type structures next to the aquatic center. Well, we also bring air in to the air handlers in the basement and then up to the kiosks when we don’t need heating or air conditioning.

JAYAMAHA: Wow, there’s so much thought that’s gone into it! I do want to get a little bit of background, Mr. Edwards, about—obviously, I’m getting a good, fair idea of your involvement with EMCAC and obviously you know so much about what, sort of, in terms of what the building looks like now and what’s going into it. I do want to talk a little bit about your personal involvement with Eastern Market as well. Basically, how long have you been in the neighborhood, what was your first interaction with the Market and if you could talk a little bit about that, sort of your perceptions in terms of when you first encountered the Market, what actually propelled you to become a part of EMCAC the way you have, a little bit about sort of how that happened, if you could talk a little bit about that?

EDWARDS: Uh-huh. I have been on the Hill since 1984. I saw the latter stages of Eastern Market confrontations and I saw the presentations of bringing in some sort of a supermarket with the mezzanine to the North Hall and some of those plans. They didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I didn’t take an activist role at that point. I worked for Sharon Ambrose first election and I got to work with her staff a little bit in terms of preparing the Eastern Market legislation and it was at the tail end of things. And I saw it as something very important and then went back to Stanton Park. We were able to get Stanton Park designated as one of the members of EMCAC and I actively lobbied that I’d like to be the representative for the EMCAC. So yes, I have been the representative to EMCAC for Stanton Park since EMCAC was formed, so I’ve seen EMCAC from the beginning.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

JAYAMAHA: And in terms of how EMCAC itself functions in relation to the Market, have things changed a lot over the years or has the set of structure been very much the same?

EDWARDS: The structure changed markedly after the first two or three years because originally there was a food vendor and a nonfood vendor and they were non-voting. And we had Bill Glasgow and Angie Brunson sharing a seat on EMCAC for over two years. They would sit there and they would talk about something and decide to have a vote. They didn’t have a registered vote but to announce opposition. And we went back to the Council and explained to Sharon Ambrose’s office the concern and the legislation was amended to create a South Hall representative, a farmers’ line representative, in addition to the nonfood vendor, and to make all of them voting members of EMCAC. That’s the major structural difference in EMCAC since the legislation was enacted. We’ve had different challenges as a new organization in which even by the structure of the legislation the people who had an economic interest in the Market were not completely trusted to regulate the Market. I mean, why else to make them non-voting members? And that sort of questioning was present in early EMCAC meetings and I think a lot of that has been dissuaded. People no longer feel that way because we’ve proven how we can work with those merchants and how effective those merchants are in helping us as EMCAC. You were there on the opening day of the Market, but on the ribbon cutting EMCAC had a reception in the North Hall and ... EMCAC has no money, there is no procedure for funding EMCAC. Each member of EMCAC pays $150 a year to pay for secretarial services, photocopying, a mailbox and so this is a volunteers for pay, if you will [chuckles] system.

JAYAMAHA: Very interesting system! [laughs]

EDWARDS: Volunteers that have to pay to volunteer. But, Donna [Scheeder, EMCAC chair] wanted to put on a reception and invite all of the merchants: indoor, outdoor, and all the people that had worked for to achieve what we have in EMCAC. Tommy Wells with his constituent [?] services said, “I can come up with $300.” [inaudible], myself, and Chuck Burger said, “We’ll come up with $100 a piece, we’ll put on something.” We went up to Schneider’s liquor and talked to John. I said, “John, here is where we were.” We had some of the most drinkable red wine and white wine, four cases total, for $6.50 a bottle. We had some support. And for the food, I wander around to eat at the South Hall merchants and Market Lunch made some of their fine pork barbeque, Bill Glasgow of Union Meat the night before grilled the flank steak at his home and brought it in, the bakery, Canales, the cheese, and the food—we had probably 150- 200 people at the reception. The food lasted, the wine lasted and we pulled the whole thing off for about $300. [laughs]

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

JAYAMAHA: That’s amazing! [both speak simultaneously, unintelligible] I’m now really disappointed I missed the event. [both laugh]

EDWARDS: But that’s an example of how the merchants come together with us and help us and I think we respect them for doing it.

JAYAMAHA: That’s wonderful. Actually, that’s a good segue to sort of my next question, that is, moving forward, sort of moving into the future, how do you envision sort of Eastern Market’s role? Obviously, you’ve seen it change from over the ’80s, you’ve seen sort of the management of it change over lengthy period of time. What do you see, sort of, what do you envision for the future of the Market?

EDWARDS: OK, we had a management situation that was I would say not an activist management at all. They collected the money and did very little and when the contract was up we let them go and we issued a request for proposals for a market manager. The responses were not satisfactory and the OPM is now running the Market as the market manager. They’re doing a tremendous job and what they’re doing for the first time we’ve got some sound financial data coming in and we can do a request for a proposal now for a market manager. We also, I think we’re going to see EMCAC starting to evolve into something like other cities have called the market authority, which has some of the characteristics of a board of directors and some people are looking at those models now. Eastern Market is very small compared to something like Pike Street Market, or some other markets in this country. So—or as a Baltimore Market. So as to what it’s going to be, I don’t know. It’s going to evolve, though, just as we’ve seen the management evolve in the last six months.

We’ve got a much more responsive market manager. I mean, you can when you walk down Seventh Street now, you don’t have on the weekends the farmers’ line trucks parked on an angle blocking off any access. You’ve got them all parked parallel, the space between them, pedestrian friendly. You don’t have the vendors with their tents with their back to the bricks-and-mortar people on Seventh Street—you have them facing them, they’re communicating. You don’t have the food people across from Tunicliff’s. They’re in the aquatic center, plaza now: the pretzel people, the crepe people. And we have a much more sensitive management and I think a much more effective management, and I think the Market is trying to be a better neighbor. And I know, I think this has borne out but the recent proposal for developing the Hines School site, all of them had an empathy for having something that was compatible with Eastern Market. One of them, I mean, had a below-level parking and which he had 12 feet of clearance on the first level to accommodate vendors’ trucks. There is the re-opening of the Seventh Street [ed: C Street] and the creation of a 10,000 square foot piazza off of it that will accommodate all of the merchants that are now at Hine, with this redeveloped Hine site. So there is the realization of the importance of the Market in terms

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

of the character of the community and the community is trying to work with the Market, now that the Market is under current management it’s working with the community much better than it has ever in the past.

JAYAMAHA: I do have one last question for you, Mr. Edwards, and that is, you talked earlier, you said there’re couple more things that needed to be finished, like the chairs that needed to be brought in eventually. You also, I think, I’m not too sure whether this is again I’m referring to a document that I’ve read about for bicycles, bicycle racks and so on. Are there any other little bits and pieces like that, any other features that need to be completed or do you think, do you have any ideas for anything else that needs to be done in addition to what’s been done?

EDWARDS: Yes, and I think the bicycle example is a good one because there we had a competition for a bicycle design, then we had the DDOT section on bicycle say let’s install them. And it was EMCAC that said let’s wait a minute now. Bicycle racks go in after we determine the fixed things. I mean, we were turning the North Plaza into a special events area, we’ve got four light standards that are blaring up in the center to illuminate it at night. We’re moving the trees out to the perimeter to make it more usable. And these were accomplished with on-site meetings, with people from urban forestry, DDOT, OPM, EMCAC, and we were able to reach a consensus and the report that we generated was a consensus report endorsed by EMCAC, sent to OPM, and this October they’ll start planting the trees. The bicycle racks we said, ok, we’ve got that in place now, now let’s deal with the bicycle racks. And right now the bicycle racks are like the trees—they’re going beyond the perimeter of the North Plaza. And we’ve got the merchants of the merchants associations have agreed to figure out where best to place for the bicycle racks. We took two of them for the North Plaza. So again, we have the cooperation of the two groups.

The next thing is trash cans. DDOT says, ah, here’s the special case that we did five years ago and these wrought iron trash cans that we’ve got all over the city we’ll put three of them here. OPM says, aha, it’s opening day, let’s put some of our new recycling cans in. And the recycling cans are in now, the DDOT cans are not in yet, so we’ve got to decide which trash cans go where. We’ve got things like benches. I mean, these are important but to be able to be down to this detail of figuring out things I think is a mark of success.

The other thing we’ve got to figure out is what to do with this west façade, West Plaza. Before the merchants were able to park back on the sidewalk of the North Hall, now two of the doors that were sealed off before are open. There was no opening to the Center Hall before, now there is an opening to a catering kitchen, wet bar catering kitchen, and that sidewalk is designed as a set-up area for the catering kitchen. You can’t have people park there. So the first step is, OPM, the market manager said, art

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Monte Edwards Interview, July 17, 2009

merchants, you can park there, but not on the sidewalk, and you’ve got to be parallel to the curb. And that’s what they’re doing now. So incrementally we have solved that problem. Now, when we go down further, we have striped for diagonal parking but the people who handle the trash are continuing to drop the trash compactors down [blocking?] the parking spaces instead of putting them up on the pad. We’ve got conflicting signs and we’re talking to OPM about turning that into 30 minute customer parking which we never had the signs for before. So these are some of the evolving things that are a pleasure to deal with because we’ve got something that works and these are the things that make it just work a little better.

JAYAMAHA: That is wonderful, thank you so much, Mr. Edwards. This has been so rich, just in terms of detail and thanks also for your effort, it has been a wonderful effort and it has really paid off. As a member of the community I can tell you we appreciate it very much. So thank you very much for your time, Mr. Edwards, and I do hope we can talk to you again some time soon.

EDWARDS: Oh, yes.
JAYAMAHA: Thank you and all the best.EDWARDS: Thank you now.