14-24 Channing St, NW, 1908; Harry Wardman, dev; AH Beers, arch.In 1907, Wardman began construction of a new row-house type in the recently-platted areas north of Florida Avenue.  Contemporary accounts referred to it as “semi-suburban.”  Four changes to the traditional row house gave it a suburban texture. The houses were set further back from the street, thereby creating a small lawn; they were wider and shallower in plan; they emphasized horizontality; and, most significantly, they had front porches with roofs that were large enough to serve as outdoor living rooms.  Although the roof of the front-porch reduced the amount of light that entered the front room, the wider and shallower plan allowed the light to penetrate deeper into the room.

These changes had a significant impact on the relationship of the house to the street, and the lifestyle of the resident.  They animated the street and engendered community. As the foremost developer of front-porch row houses, Wardman — or possibly his architect, Albert H. Beers — probably deserves credit for instituting what was to become the predominant single-family dwelling type in Washington for the next three decades.

By the mid-1920s, however, the front-porch was beginning to lose popularity.  Most middle-income families in Washington could afford a car, extending the distance they could travel for socializing.  As the front-porch row house became associated with the working class, the garage gained popularity as a more desirable amenity and as a symbol of social standing. The early residents of Channing Street included a draftsman at the Navy Yard, a chief statistician at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a teacher at the McKinley Manual Training School, a structural engineer for the Treasury Department, an electrician, a dentist, a route agent for the Evening Star, a clerk at the Department of Agriculture, a druggist whose store was at the corner of North Capitol Street and Rhode Island Avenue, an assistant superintendent at Pepco, and many lino-type operators at the Government Printing Office.

Rebecca MillerBloomingdale Front Porch Row Houses

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