The Monroe Street Market is having their grand opening celebration this week, so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what once existed on that site. Here’s their map of the layout.
And here’s a map from 1913, showing what was there then. Not a whole lot:
On the 1913 map you can see a few buildings in square number 3657, where Brookland Works and the Bennett Career Institute are now, on the Michigan Avenue side (then still called Bunker Hill Road). Before the Monroe Street Bridge was built, this was part of Brookland’s business district, with a number of small shops and a coal yard near the tracks. But after streetcar service began to run up Monroe, the commercial area shifted to 12th Street. The building of the Michigan Avenue bridge in 1937 finished off those remaining businesses. The two houses along Monroe Street where the Bennett building now stands were used as a house of studies by the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They were replaced with the brick structure in 1956. The Bennett Babies child care building was a much more recent Pizza Hut. The land that the Brookland Works buildings stand on was not used until the 1960s when a Holiday Inn was built there.
Moving counter-clockwise, the triangle of land where the Portland Flats building now stands wasn’t built on until 1923, when the Franciscan order of Minor Conventuals erected a House of Studies there. Catholic University eventually bought the building and renamed it St. Bonaventure Hall. It was primarily used for such administrative offices as Student Housing and Career Services. It was torn down in 2007.
The area on the south side of Monroe Street, where the Cornerstone building now stands, remained unused until World War II, when temporary government housing was erected there. In the 1960s, Catholic University built three architecturally uninspired dormitories on the plot. I lived in two of them as a student, and wasn’t sorry to see them go.
Square number 3654, the “future phase” of the MSM development, once had many nice houses along Monroe Street. By the 1960s, Catholic University owned most of them and they had started to deteriorate. Across 8th Street there was one nice Victorian home where the Edgewood Arts building now stands.
All in all, the Monroe Street Market development should bring new vibrancy to the area. I wish them good luck.