Interactive Washington D.C. City Map, 1892

Interactive Washington D.C. City Map, 1892

Arts and Industries Building
Arts and Industries Building

Calvary Baptist Church
Calvary Baptist Church

Patent Office, Gallery
Patent Office, Gallery

John A. Gray
John A. Gray's Hotel

Center Market
Center Market

New Ordnance Foundry
New Ordnance Foundry

Army Medical Museum and Library
The Army Medical Museum and Library

Masonic Temple
Masonic Temple

Shepherd's Row

Portland Flats
Portland Flats

John R. Elvans Residence
John R. Elvans Residence

Sumner School
Sumner School

Hearst School for Girls
Hearst School for Girls

Catholic University, drawing
Catholic University, drawing

Interactive Washington D.C. City Map, 1892

Interactive Washington D.C. City Map, 1892

Adolf Cluss as the dominant architect for the Red Brick City

If you could have stood at Cluss's masterwork, the Smithsonian's National Museum building, in 1890, you would have had in your eyesight a major building by Adolf Cluss in every cardinal direction. To the north was the Central Market, to the south was Tabernacle Church (with the Jefferson School) behind it, to the east the Army Medical Museum and Library, and to the west of the Smithsonian building (now called the Castle, on which Cluss worked for more than 20 years) was the Department of Agriculture building. In the center was the most complex of his commissions, the National Museum. Each of these large public facilities was executed in red brick, as were the domestic buildings and the government buildings of the period. Red brick was the building material of choice for Washington in the 1860's through the 1880's.

Meaning of the Red Brick City

Bricks may have different meanings in different buildings; meanings are a subtle construct of circumstances. The architecture of Adolf Cluss is a good lens to focus on its meaning. There are technical and economic reasons for the use of brick. Industrial materials were admired in the post Civil War and post industrial revolution boom of industrial growth. Brick was locally manufactured and plentiful. Those who built for purposes of speculation found brick economical; those building for show could choose more specialized brick such as pressed or glazed. There is also the fireproof quality of brick when fire regulations were eliminating wooden structures in the city. Brick satisfied a desire to show that this building was different from a building of an earlier period and was thus modern, not tied to other cultures, classes and styles; brick can be sleek and structural. Brick satisfied the Romantic period's taste for rich color effects in architecture as Liszt's lush compositions did for music. In the period, the use of brick for color effects was dominant in France, Germany, and England for certain building types.

Historical Information about Cluss Buildings

Adolf Cluss, usually working with partners, designed and built about 90 buildings from about 1862 to 1887, mostly in Washington, DC. Building permits are an important source of information about his work, but Washington permit records are available only after 1876 (now indexed in a DC Department of Planning database; originals at the National Archives and copies at the Martin Luther King Library). Since building permits do not prove that the planned building was actually constructed by the architect named on the permit, other sources, such as newspaper accounts, photographs, personal letters, records and diaries, and Cluss's own lists of his work, were used to corroborate building permit information. Many of these documents can be found in the research files on Cluss at the Smithsonian Institution Archives (see:

Cluss compiled lists of his buildings on three occasions: Washington's Evening Star (October 19, 1872), Coffin's Washington: The Nation's Capital (1886), and in his application for a position as federal building inspector (1889). All of the lists detailed his public buildings, but none of them give much information about his residential work or many of his military buildings. All of the lists contain references to buildings that have not yet been identified. Buildings for which there is inconclusive evidence are listed separately below in the category "Buildings possibly designed by Cluss but not confirmed."

List of all Cluss Buildings

Commercial and Office Buildings
Government Buildings
Hospitals and Residential Homes
Hotels and Boarding Houses
Military Commissions
Performance and Meetings Halls
Residential Properties
Buildings that Cluss built or modificated but did not design
Design submissions
Buildings possibly designed by Adolf Cluss, but not confirmed


Foundry Methodist Church (1)

Calvary Baptist Church (2)

St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Church (3)

The Tabernacle Church (4)

The Universalist Church of Our Father (5)

Chapel of St. Paul (6)

Commercial and Office Buildings

Thomas Brown Office (7)

John M. Young Store and Residence on C Street (8)

John M. Young Stores and Residences on 7th Street (67)

John M. Young Store and Residence on Pennsylvania Avenue (75)

Lansburgh's Department Store on 7th Street (9)

Lansburgh's Department Store on 8th Street (77)

John Vogt Store (10)

Corcoran Office Building (11)

Montgomery Meigs Office (76)

Samuel Herman Store and Residence, 415 Four and a Half Street (82)

Joseph P. Herman Store and Residence (96)

Samuel Herman Stores and Residences, 323-327 Four and a Half Street (97)

Wolford and Shilberg Store (98)

Government Buildings

The Agriculture Department (12)

Patent Office (13)

U.S. Fish Commission (14)

U.S. Coast Survey (99)

Metropolitan Hook and Ladder Company Fire Engine House (108)

Police Station House (Metropolitan Police Station), Precinct 8 (110)

Hospitals and Residential Homes

Garfield Memorial Hospital (15)

Washington Hospital for Foundlings (16)

Smallpox Hospital (100)

St. Aloysius Church Industrial Home for Women (104)

Hotels and Boarding Houses

Seaton House (17)

John A. Gray's Hotel (18)

Welcker's Hotel, six-story extension (19)


Center Market (1871-78) (20)

Center Market (1864) (109)

The Alexandria City Hall (21)

Eastern Market (22)

Military Commissions

New Ordnance Foundry (23)

Powder Magazines of the Navy (24)

Powder Magazines for U.S. Arsenal (25)

Officers' Barracks for U.S. Arsenal (26)

Officer's Quarters at Washington Barracks (formerly the U.S. Arsenal) (71)


Smithsonian Castle, Reconstruction (27)

National Museum (later: Arts and Industries Building) (28)

The Army Medical Museum and Library (29)

Performance and Meetings Halls

Concordia Opera House (30)

YMCA Building, containing Lincoln Hall (31)

Masonic Temple (32)

Schützenpark Meeting Hall and Hotel (33)

Naval Masonic Lodge (111)

Residential Properties

William Stickney Residence (35)

Franklin Terrace Row Houses, East Row (37)

Shepherd's Row (38)

Fanny Washburn Payson Residence (39)

Stewart's Castle (40)

Samuel Carter Residence (41)

Phillips Row (42)

Edward Weston Residence (43)

Mary Biddle Residence (44)

Spencer F. Baird Residence (45)

Portland Flats Apartment House (47)

Walter Davidge Residence (48)

Thomas Ferguson Residence (49)

Christian Heurich Worker Houses (50)

John Smith Residence (51)

Henry H. Wells Jr. Residence (52)

William Wuerdemann Residence (53)

John R. Elvans Residence (68)

Thomas Ferguson Row Houses (70)

George B. Loring Residences (78)

William S. Hoge Residence (79)

Katherine McCarthy Residence (80)

Charles A. Schneider Residences (81)

William F. Mattingly and Michael W. Beveridge Residences (101)

John K. Wills Residences (102)

General Noah L. Jeffries Residence (103)

Edward F. Droop House (112)


Wallach School (54)

Franklin School (55)

O Street School (56)

Seaton School (58)

Sumner School (59)

Cranch School (60)

Jefferson School (61)

Curtis School (62)

Henry School (63)

The Academy of the Visitation (65)

St. Matthew's Institute (66)

St. John's College (73)

Lincoln School, consultant only (57)


Stanford Stable (69)

Inaugural Ball Building (temporary building) (72)

Martin Luther Memorial Pedestal (105)

Buildings that Cluss supervised

Sometimes Adolf Cluss accepted jobs as a builder, what is today known as a general contractor, for structures designed by other architects, most done after he retired from his architectural firm.

District of Columbia Jail, Washington, 1872 (91)

United States Government Printing Office, Addition 1895-96 (92)

White House Conservancy and Green House Repairs, 1896-97 (93)

The Hearst School for Girls, later renamed the National Cathedral School for Girls, 1899-1900 (94)

Design submissions

War Department building, Washington, 1866-67 (106)

Lutheran Memorial Church, 1866-67 (90)

Library of Congress, won third prize, Washington, 1873

Library of Congress, second design submission, 1878

Dickinson College building, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1880

Catholic University, Divinity Hall, won first prize, but not built; Washington, 1887 (74)

National Monument in Commemoration of the Independence of Mexico, Mexico City, 1887 (107)

Criminal Court and Municipal Building, New York City, 1888

Soldier's and Sailor's Monument, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1888

St. John the Divine Cathedral, New York City (1888-89):
wrote letter of inquiry, but no evidence of a submission. (see PhD dissertation by Janet Adams Strong, May 1990: "The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York: Design Competitions in the Shadow of H.H. Richardson, 1889-1891.")

Grant Memorial won first prize, but not built; New York City, 1889

Buildings possibly designed by Adolf Cluss, but not confirmed

William Sprague Residence, remodeling and addition only (34)

James Ormond Wilson and Richard Morsell Residences (46)

Bennet School (64)

Curtis J. Hillyer Houses (83)

Archibald H. Lowery Residence (84)

Marine Corps Barracks (85)

Second Ward Station (86)

William Wuerdemann Residences, 10-12 B Street, NE (87)

John J. Young Residence (88)

The W.N. Teller Residence (36) seems not to be build by Adolf Cluss.


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