Historic photo by Frederic John

Wreckers tear away the fabric of the stately Dunbar Hotel, 15th street, NW between U and V streets, NW. 

Originally constructed in 1895 by German-American brewer/real estate magnate Robert V. Portner and designed by architect Clarence J. Didden, the vast edifice held over 300 rooms and was known as the “Portner Flats.”  

This impressive orange ‘Roman’ brick pile, noted for curving towered bays, was trimmed with copper, terra-cotta, and brownstone. A myriad assortment of grotesque and fantastic figures graced the entrance. 

After 1928 the Portner was converted to the “New Dunbar Hotel,” serving for more than four decades as the primary lodging for illustrious visitors to D.C.’s “Black Broadway” — the U Street entertainment district – such as Duke Ellington, Cab Callaway, Sarah Vaughn, and many more!