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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

This program has been canceled. Ticket holders will be notified about credit and/or refund options.

A Century of Co-ops in the District

All-Day Tour

Saturday, May 2, 2020 - 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Code: 1ND018

Aerial view of The Watergate

In 1920, 10 rental apartment buildings in Washington, D.C., converted to cooperative ownership. Over subsequent decades, member-owned and -controlled dwellings became a significant feature of the city’s housing market. Today with nearly 15,000 cooperative units, the District is second only to New York City in their concentration.   

Co-ops—both purpose-built and conversions—are distinctive features of some of the city’s most historic neighborhoods, from Kalorama to Cathedral Heights, Foggy Bottom to Southwest Waterfront. They also represent a wide range of architectural styles and periods.

The Italian Renaissance–inspired Altamont in Kalorama Triangle, built in 1916 and converted into a cooperative in 1949, boasts a pair of rooftop pavilions and a large reception-area fireplace ornamented by carved scrolls. Harbour Square, from 1966, is one of several waterfront-neighborhood projects that reflect the distinctive midcentury aesthetic of architect Cloethiel Woodard Smith. And Luigi Moretti’s Watergate East, built in the same year, offers another perspective on modernism.

Visit these fabled cooperatives—as well as Tiber Island and River Park in Southwest and the elegant Westchester in Cleveland Park—during a day guided by Barry Moss, former president of the D.C. Cooperative Housing Coalition.

View public spaces in each, and experience resident-led tours of private apartments in several of the cooperatives. Moss and hosts at the locations provide background on the history, architectural importance, and notable former residents of the communities. Enjoy a gourmet box lunch in the Westchester’s dining room and a light reception on the roof of the Altamont—overlooking a neighborhood where historic co-ops abound.

Please note: This tour involves significant walking and standing, as well as stairs; not all sites are ADA-compliant.

Other Connections

A video documentary from the D.C. Cooperative Housing Coalition covers the history of co-ops in the city, and features some of the properties spotlighted in the tour.

Departs from the Holiday Inn Capitol at
550 C St SW (corner of 6th & C Sts)
No fringe stop on this tour