National Capital Brewing Company at 14th and D Streets S.E., 1917. Photo: Library of Congress

The Breweries of Capitol Hill

February 7, 2006
On February 7, Capitol Hill historian Lucinda Janke presented a lecture on the breweries that thrived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood in the days before Prohibition.

Although hardly a trace remains today, in the late 19th century the Hill boasted two of Washington's largest breweries, one in the block where Stuart Hobson Junior High stands today, the other at 14th Street and D Streets S.E. were the Safeway stood for many years. The latter facility, which operated under various names and owners and had a beer garden that seated more than a thousand customers, greeted Prohibition by successfully converting to the manufacture of ice cream.

Ms. Janke showed an array of photos and other brewery memorabilia, and introduced about a dozen members of the audience who are direct descendants of Washington's 19th century brewers, most of whom were German immigrants. A former curator of the Kiplinger Washington Collection and board member of the DC Historical Society, Ms. Janke is a longtime explorer of the city's past and co-author, with Ruth Ann Overbeck, of a groundbreaking study of one of Capitol Hill's founding landowners, William Prout. She also served on the steering committee of the Overbeck Project.

Past Lectures