Portland Flats (47)Thomas Circle, 1125-1133 Vermont Avenue, NW
Constructed in 1880, 1883 addition, demolished in 1962
In 1880, Edward Weston, a New York developer, hired Adolf Cluss to design Washington's first apartment building, Portland Flats. Weston was familiar with the new type of apartment buildings in New York. He had already employed Cluss and Schulze to build his K Street house two years earlier (see 43).
The "Portland," as it was originally known, was sited on the south side of Thomas Circle, NW, between 14th Street and Vermont Avenue. Built for affluent residents in a Moorish Renaissance Revival style, it consisted of six stories with thirty-nine apartments of varied sizes, accessible from three entrances, which led to elevators and two sets of wrought iron stairs, enriched with marble tiles and ventilated by skylights. While the apartment configurations varied, all had private hallways which connected spacious parlors, bedrooms and bathrooms. Larger apartments accommodated servants, but most residents relied upon the kitchen, laundry and storage rooms housed in the basement, and the dining rooms on the ground floor.
Exposed woodwork throughout the building included combinations of cherry, oak, ash and white pine as well as colored friezes. Most rooms had open fireplaces, ebony mantels with beveled mirrors and ornamental tile borders and hearths. Residents enjoyed amenities such as an in-house drugstore, an interior courtyard and a viewing tower. Mr. Weston praised Cluss: "Your work has resulted in the best-planned apartment house that I know of and this opinion is shared by many others. A proof of the above remarks, and a very agreeable proof to me, is that the house is full and all the tenants, at present, are perfectly satisfied."
Later, Portland Flats became a hotel.
While the popularity of apartment buildings in the city increased, in 1962 Portland Flats was razed for commercial development.