Built in 1902, the original Woodward & Lothrop "Woodies" Department Store fronting on G street was designed by nationally recognized architect Henry Ives Cobb and remains a striking example of the Gilded Age in Washington, DC. The first two floors are richly ornamented with cast iron piers of decorative relief panels that include vine, urn and cherub motifs as well as shields with the W&L logo that were originally a monochromatic color palette.
Woodies was founded in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1873, the department store was moved to Washington in 1880 to the current site of the Navy Memorial at 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Quickly outgrowing spaces in the neighborhood, the Woodies flagship store moved to this site, and from 1902-1926 built five additions that eventually occupied the entire block.
The ornate details of the cast iron had been obscured over the years by layers of paint. In 2011, Douglas Jemal endeavored to highlight this character defining feature by painstakingly cleaning the cast iron and introducing whimsical colors of the period that focus the exceptional design and craftsmanship of the buildings iron work.
Seen underneath the Woodward and Lathrop insignia is the stoic Zeus, the father of the gods. His daughters are depicted through the symbols seen in the branches of fruit, the blossoms,
the cornucopia, and the vase, along with their fair-haired self-portraiture. In Greek mythology, these were the Goddesses of the order of nature and of the seasons. They also protect the law, good order, and peace. Traditionally, the Horae guarded the gates of Olympus, promoted the fertility of the earth, and rallied the stars and constellations.
The Woodward & Lathrop building was designated a DC Landmark in 1964 and is currently owned and operated by the Douglas Development Corporation.