ON THIS SPOT: The End of a Brookland Institution

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

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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.

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Photo courtesy Historical Society of Washington

In the above photo from 1925, the Post Office is still in the Masonic Lodge and Moore’s hardware is advertising coal in their window a few doors down. At the end of the block is the Merchants National Bank, and across Newton Street the Brookland Baptist Church stands where the CVS is now. By 1929 the Post Office had moved from the Masonic Lodge and Moore took over the first floor. Brookland Hardware has been there ever since.

At the time, the still-new medium of radio was the big thing and Moore jumped into it right away, as you can see in this ad from 1929. 

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Moore even toyed with altering the name of the store to include radio. Here’s an ad from later in 1929: 

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That name didn’t stick, though the slogan “Ask Moore Questions” did, even making it onto the sign at the front of the store, as you can see in this closeup of an image from the 1940s: 

Hardware wasn’t Moore’s only interest. An enthusiastic bowler, he built the Brookland Bowling Alley in 1938 and owned a few others in the region. Located at 3726 10th Street across from the playing field, the Brookland Bowling Alley had a serious fire in 1950 that caused $100,000 of damage. The building was refurbished and became the home of Atlantic Electric Supply in 1952. 

Paul Moore ran Brookland Hardware for 33 years, until he retired and sold the business to his long-time manager Daniel Quigley in 1957. It had a number of different owners over the next two decades until it was acquired by Howard Politzer in 1980. For 35 years now, Howard has been running things and tending to the needs of Brooklanders. He recognized the neighborhood character of the business and brought in friendly, knowledgable staff, retaining the small town feel the store always had. 

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Fortunately for all of us, Howard and his crack staff won’t be leaving Brookland. They are moving over to the new Annie’s Ace Hardware at 3405 8th Street, Howard as a part-time consultant, the rest doing what they’ve always done, just at a new location. “Howard is an institution. The neighbors genuinely trust him and his staff, and we are honored to be working side-by-side with him in this new chapter for both of our businesses,” said Anne Stom, owner of Annie’s Ace Hardware in a press release announcing the change.

The closing sale continues this week. There will be a party celebrating Howard and the gang on Saturday, August 1, from 11am to 1pm right outside the store. Come out and thank the team for all their service to the community over the decades.

© Robert Malesky 2017