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Eastern Market Renovation: A Peek Behind the Yellow Tape
We took a tour of the soon-to-reopen Eastern Market building in Southeast DC. Check out our photos and video of the snazzy new digs. By Emily Leaman
A fire gutted the historic market over two years ago, but on June 26 the place will reopen to the public. Photograph by Chris Leaman
Comments () | Published June 18, 2009
After a $20 million renovation, Eastern Market is finally set to reopen. In April 2007 the 136-year-old building was ravaged by a fire that destroyed the south hall, where more than a dozen vendors and merchants set up shop. During reconstruction, the vendors were relocated to a temporary structure next to Hine Junior High School on Seventh Street, Southeast. On June 26, they’ll open for business in Eastern Market for the first time in more than two years.

Last week, we got a sneak peek of the overhaul. Though the fire was largely contained to the south hall, the city decided to complete much-needed renovations in the north hall as well. DC’s Office of Property Management Director, Robin-Eve Jasper, and Construction Administrator, Curtis Clay, walked us through both spaces and explained what millions of dollars have done to improve the historic building.

All told, the reconstruction process was a tightrope walk between historic preservation and modern improvements. “The Historic Preservation Review Board was involved every step of the way, even before construction began,” says Clay. “They looked at paint colors, lighting fixtures, every aspect of the project—down to the tint on the window panes.”

In fact, the market’s new windows received a lot of attention. Paint-analysis studies determined that the window frames on the outside of the halls were originally different colors—the north hall windows were white and the south hall’s were green. The new windows reflect those historic details.

The windows themselves, historians said, would need to be single-paned, as they were in the 1800s. But the new single-paned windows have an ultra-violet-filtering tint to help protect the food inside the south hall. “It’s a great example of where technology and history came together in this project,” Jasper says.

Other historically accurate touches include the salmon paint color in the south hall, the restoration of the market manager’s office, the use of period task-lighting and sconces, and the restoration of the south hall’s skylights, which flood the space with natural light.

All photographs by Chris Leaman

>> Next page: Eastern Market video tour!

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 06/18/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles