Then & Now: New Occidental Hotel Washington, DC

In this “Then & Now” feature, I have combined one of Lewis Reed’s original photograph’s for “then” and matched it with a corresponding contemporary shot for “now” to see how the location has changed or remained nearly the same through the years. I started doing this as a research tool, now I mostly do it because of my passion for history and fascination with the subject. In the following photographs, you can see the difference 100 years can make.

New Occidental Hotel (THEN): The New Occidental Hotel was built by Henry Willard (of Willard Hotel fame) in 1906. If any of 2,500 celebrities — including four presidents — forgot who they were, they could stop by the Occidental Restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue and check their picture on the wall. Within a few years the Occidental became known as the place “Where Statesmen Dine”.

After the restaurant closed in 1971, the wall-to-wall collection of paintings and photographs of the famous was auctioned off. The new Occidental Restaurant re-opened at 1475 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, almost on the old site, as part of the Willard Collection of buildings.

Looking from the Treasury Building directly at the United States Capitol, this 1912 photograph taken by Lewis Reed shows the first floor retail shops and the Occidental Hotel, which has an Electric Grill Room, on the left. On the right are office buildings and the Old Post Office. The magnificent Raleigh Hotel held a commanding position on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the Old Post Office Building. The Occidental Hotel was located at 1411 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Occidental Hotel DC

Historic street view of Pennsylvania Avenue. Photo by Lewis Reed, 1912

New Occidental Hotel (NOW): Google Street View from approximately the same perspective in 2018.

New Occidental Hotel

Screenshot of Google Street View 2018

Source: Historic Restaurants of Washington

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About Reed Brothers

I am a co-owner of the former Reed Brothers Dodge in Rockville, Maryland. Lewis Reed, the founder of Reed Brothers Dodge was my grandfather. We were a family-owned and operated car dealership in Rockville for almost a century. I served in the United States Air Force for 30 years before retiring in the top enlisted grade of Chief Master Sergeant in July 2006. In 2016, I received the Arthur M. Wagman Award for Historic Preservation Communication from Peerless Rockville for documenting the history of Reed Brothers Dodge in both blog and book format. This distinguished honor recognizes outstanding achievement by writers, educators, and historians whose work has heightened public awareness of Rockville’s architectural and cultural heritage, growth and development.

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