City Desk

Today in D.C. History: Renovated Eastern Market Reopens After Devastating Blaze

On June 26, 2009, hundreds of people waited in line to get their first look at the new and improved Eastern Market on Capitol Hill. More than two years earlier, a three-alarm fire blazed through the beloved Adolf Cluss-designed building, destroying much of the interior and its original vendor stalls, leaving behind a charred brick shell that was originally built in the 1870s. Then-Mayor Adrian Fenty was on hand for the reopening of the market, which went through a $22 million renovation and rebuilding.

Before the fire, smaller renovations had been in the works that would have cost $2.5 million and allowed the market to remain open during construction. After the fire, Fenty sought to rebuild better and more ambitiously than before. The Washington Post reported:

Air ducts were moved underground, opening up a much more dramatic view of the ceiling from inside. The concrete floor, which was cracked, was completely replaced; in the process, severe structural problems in the basement arch and beam supports were discovered and removed. The rat-infested, trash-strewn lower level was restored to life, and an old underground restaurant space, accessible from the street, became the new home for the Eastern Market pottery studio.

The rehabilitated space is bustling today, with most of the vendors returned to their original stalls. Not to mention, the space is now available as a venue for special events, including weddings. (As long as you've got some cash; renting the space can cost from $100 for a community group to $4,300 for a wedding.) Editor's note: Due to a reporting error, this post originally said weddings cost $5,100.

Photo by Flickr user mastermaq using an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons license

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  • Mike Licht

    Rent the North Hall for $5,100 and get the worst acoustics in Washington for free. The room was never finished and remains an echoing empty shell. There's heat and air and a rudimentary fixed lighting bar at one end, but that's it. It is completely unsuitable for performing arts events. Shame.

  • Barry Margeson

    The prices for the North Hall vary, actually, based on the type of event. They go from $100 for community meetings to $3,700 for private parties like Weddings and Capitol Hill events.