ON THIS SPOT: The End of a Brookland Institution

IMG 6871

After eight decades at the corner of 12th and Monroe, Brookland Hardware closes its doors.

IMG 6872

Brookland Hardware is about to close, and with it, a big part of Brookland’s history. Over the years, the store developed a reputation as one of the great, old-style hardware shops, with a little bit of everything on shelves crammed full from floor to ceiling and a staff that knew how to find it all. It’s been an indispensable place for those of us with older homes, stocking all sorts of things that Home Depot doesn’t. And it’s been around forever. Well, almost forever.

The Masons erected the building at 3501 12th St. NE as the King David Lodge No. 28 in 1911. It was Brookland’s tallest building and became its social center. The first floor was to be leased out for retail, the second floor had a large ballroom with stage, and the third floor was reserved for Lodge offices. Rather than a retail outlet, the Masons decided to lease the first floor to the Brookland Post Office, which moved from its tiny shack at 9th and Bunker Hill Road in March of 1912. 

In 1924, Paul F. Moore opened a small hardware store at 3509 12th Street, two doors down from the Masonic Lodge. It was the beginning of Brookland Hardware.

LOCAL LORE: Past Papal (and pre-Papal) Visits


Anticipation for the visit of Pope Francis in September is growing. Right now it looks as if his stop at The Catholic University of America will include a Mass for Father Junípero Serra on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Here is his official schedule.

Of course, Francis isn’t the first pope to visit here. Thanks to the proximity of CUA, the national university of the Catholic Church, chartered by Pope Leo XIII, many Catholic luminaries have come to our neck of the woods over the years. The first Pope to visit was John Paul II in 1979. But three years earlier, as Cardinal Karol Wojtyła, he had visited CUA at the invitation of Jude Dougherty, dean of the School of Philosophy. Here he is with an unidentified priest on the steps of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in 1976. 

But he wasn’t the first soon-to-be-Pope to visit. Forty years earlier, in 1936, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the Vatican’s Cardinal Secretary of State and Camerlengo, came for a visit. Here he is touring the campus, with McMahon Hall in the background. 

Pacelli would be elected Pope Pius XII three years later, and led the Church through World War II, a period still clouded in controversy. He did not return to Catholic University as Pope, as did John Paul II in 1979. Then, many students stayed up all night on the university mall, holding a prayer vigil until the Pope arrived. When he did, they chanted “John Paul Two, we love you!” “I love you, I love you!” he chanted back, then went to shake hands and greet students on the steps of the Shrine. 

© Robert Malesky 2017