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A Rare Application to Landmark a DC Steakhouse

by Nena Perry-Brown

Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse, courtesy of landmark application. Click to enlarge.

An unusual property is up for landmark status in DC: a steakhouse.

The District of Columbia Preservation League has filed a historic landmark application for Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse. The Dupont Circle restaurant was originally located at 1519 17th Street NW (map) and is now a couple of blocks away at 1609-1611 17th Street NW (map); the original site is now JR's Bar, and both sites are subject to the application.

The original building was constructed in 1878, while the latter building was constructed in 1926. However, the age and architecture of the buildings are secondary to what the landmark status intends to commemorate.

Original Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse circa early 1960s, courtesy of landmark application. Click to enlarge.

The establishment, which first opened as Paramount Steakhouse in 1948, is and has long been considered a welcoming gathering place for the LGBTQ community.

As the application explains:

"The restaurant was identified within the Washington LGBTQ community as a local safe haven for alternative lifestyles as early as the 1950s....At Annie’s, the LGBTQ community could freely engage in getting to know each other at a time when society at large and the federal government rejected alternative lifestyles and forced many “in the closet” individuals to hide their sexual preferences. Before the widespread establishment of gay bars and night clubs in the 1970s, restaurants like Annie’s were critical for DC’s lesbians and gays to meet and socially engage publicly, and to form early bonds that maintained and strengthened the LGBTQ community leading up the Civil Rights era of the 1970s." 

The period of historical significance for the steakhouse is cited as 1948 to 1985, although Annie's has maintained its reputation after relocating.

"Both locations retain historic setting within the Dupont Circle Historic District, a mixed-use early twentieth century neighborhood that became home to a sizable LGBTQ population in Washington D.C. during the mid-to-late twentieth century," the application also notes.

The Steakhouse (and the Dupont Circle neighborhood) was one of several dozen sites identified as part of the Historic Context Statement for Washington’s LGBTQ Resources report, which the Office of Planning released last fall via a grant from the National Park Service. 

The Historic Preservation Review Board is scheduled to consider the application next month.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a-rare-application-to-landmark-a-dc-steakhouse/17505

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