Eastern Market

Washington, District of Columbia

Award Type: Honor Award

In a city of massive white monuments, it is a modest red-brick hall.  It’s not a world-famous icon, but in the nation’s capital, it is hard to find a place more beloved than Eastern Market.  Opened in 1873, the market is the oldest continuously operating fresh-food and farmers market in the District of Columbia. Located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood, it has served as a community hub, connecting neighbors, families and visitors, for more than 136 years.

When the building was gutted by fire in 2007, stunned residents turned their grief into action. Citizens donated money to aid displaced merchants, while the D.C. and federal government allocated funds for rebuilding. In a massive fast-track effort, the roof was rebuilt, windows and doors were repaired or replaced, damaged masonry and interior finishes were restored and merchant stalls and mechanical systems got much-needed upgrades. The renovation was so historically accurate that architects delved deep into the archives at the Library of Congress to painstakingly research photographs of original windows, arches and lampposts. Today, the reopened market sports new amenities alongside re-created original features that had vanished long ago. 

“It is remarkable for a beloved landmark to be lost so quickly and just as quickly be brought back to life,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  “The renovated Eastern Market looks better than ever – and it is still what it has always been: the beating heart of an historic community.”