The Chapman Coal Company Garage and Stable is an important surviving building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, representing a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history, and embodying distinctive characteristics of early 20th century life in Washington, DC – a time when the automobile began to replace the horse and buggy as the common mode of transportation. Adapted from a coal yard and sales building, this once 103-horse stable and box factory turned automotive service and parking garage is thoughtfully reimagined and provides 114 affordable and market-rate apartments, including a modern five-story addition.
2020 DC Preservation League, Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation
2019 Washingtonian | AIA DC, Distinctive Residential Architecture
2019 AIA VA, Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture – Residential Design
All photos copyright Hoachlander Davis Photography
The development celebrates this historic resource by preserving the early 20th century light industrial detailing of the building and incorporates remnants of the earlier horse stable.
J. Edward Chapman was a determined entrepreneur as the twentieth century unfolded in the Bates Hanover neighborhood. In 1906, the Chapman Coal Yard consisted of a small, one-story brick building on three quarters of an acre of land. J. Edward Chapman sold low-grade lignite coal to his neighbors that he mined in his own backyard.
By 1908, lignite coal was being replaced with more efficient energy sources and Chapman needed a new business venture. In 1908, he hired architect Nicholas T. Haller and placed a horse stable in the coal yard. When a catastrophic fire damaged the horse stable in 1912, Chapman decided to rebuild a new business that would cater to the ever-increasing number of automobiles in the city. He hired the local architect Albert S. J. Atkinson to design a public garage dedicated to automobiles and auto travel.
Chapman and Atkinson incorporated the remnants of both the horse stable and the coal yard buildings into this new structure, and with the capacity to serve seventy-five cars, the one hundred eighty-five foot long, two-story garage emerged. Chapman would not let fire take his livelihood, so his architect designed a heavy cast iron frame structure for the garage. These cast iron frames were covered with mesh and concrete, creating a “fire-proof” building. The structure stood for the next hundred years, fluctuating from a warehouse to a light industrial factory. In 2013 the Chapman Coal Company Garage and Stable is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The floor plat is “U-shaped” and focused around an interior garden that serves as an organizing element for resident activities. New housing units placed on the roof of the historic structure recall the form of the original “light monitors”. Those monitors allowed northern light to illuminate the garage work spaces. This isometric explains the main gathering and circulation spaces associated with this housing community.