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Eastern Market: Tremendous Loss PDF Print E-mail
Written by Charles Allen   
Monday, 30 April 2007
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Eastern Market: Tremendous Loss
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At around 1:45 am this morning, Councilmember Wells got the call that nearly 160 firefighters were battling a three-alarm blaze at Eastern Market. Despite their brave and fast work, Eastern Market has been seriously damaged.

Tommy has been on the scene most of the morning, talking with vendors and merchants, city officials, and people stopping by to pay their respects to the historic landmark.

As of this morning, over 50 percent of the building has been significantly damaged. The South Hall has suffered serious fire, water and smoke damage and will have to be rebuilt. The North Hall has been damaged, but it is unclear at this point how much structural damage has occurred.

"It's a tremendous loss for our community and I am heartbroken." Tommy commented. "I am committed that we will rebuild Eastern Market. In the days to follow, I will be putting together a working group with the Mayor and hosting a community meeting at Hine Jr. High to talk about timelines and options. Right now, we have an immediate challenge to help our small businesses and vendors find a way to stay open and survive until the Market is rebuilt."

We will provide updates as we get them, and we encourage you to leave comments with your thoughts, memories and feelings about Eastern Market.

UPDATE [12:47]:  Tommy has scheduled a meeting with Eastern Market vendors at 3:00 pm today. We will be talking with them about next steps and finding ways to keep them open for business. Also, a fund is being set up to take charitable donations to provide financial assistance to the vendors. Information about this fund (and links) will be set up shortly.

UPDATE [2:31 pm]: Tommy has worked with the Capitol Hill Community Foundation to have a fund created to help displaced Eastern Market vendors. They will be creating a dedicated website very soon, but in the meantime, you can contribute to the 501(c)3 fund at the following link: Click Here. Be sure to include the desigation for your contribution "Eastern Market: Keep It Going."

Readers have left 39 comments.
(1) Untitled
2007-04-30 10:14:00
On behalf of Shirley Rosenfeld:

Eastern Market is the soul of our community, the civic center, a vibrant symbol of what urban life can be. Our hearts go out to the Canales, the Inmans, the Calomiris and all the merchants affected. We want to do everything possible to rebuild the market as quickly as possible. Please keep us posted on community meetings and your efforts to regain our Eastern Market.
Written by Charles Allen (Super Administrator)
(2) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:00:35
It was good to see you at Eastern Market this morning, Tommy. I was there taking pictures for my new Capitol Hill blog: "Pot of George."

I greatly appreciated your telling the vendors of your commitment to make sure the outside market is up and running again this weekend.

My wife and I shopped there just yesterday. It was heartrending to learn on the NPR news this morning of the fire.

Thank you again for your concern and active help.
Written by Simon Billenness (Registered)
(3) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:15:45
Although we don't live on Capitol Hill, my husband and I drive in every single weekend to do our grocery shopping at the Eastern Market from Kensington. Over the years we have come to think of the vendors as friends. Our heart goes out to all of you -- the guys at Union Meat, Melvin and his family, the Canales, the Bowers. If Mayor Fenty can make good on his promise to try to find you temporary space while the market is rebuilt I can promise you I'll still be there every weekend to shop with you no matter where it is. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
(4) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:23:14
Tommy - Thank you for taking the lead on this.

My wife and I live on the Hill in part because of Eastern Market and a lunch at Tunnicliff's in 1993. We know the Calomiris, the Canales, Jack at the cheese booth, the hot links for lunch, the great jams to be had at the bakery, the poultry counters, and a number of the artists who exhibit there on Sundays. As importantly, those folks know us - what we like, what cheeses (hmmm) to recommendm and even when to laugh at my jokes.

This is a heartbreaker.

Chris Berendes
2nd and E St, SE
(5) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:33:28
I live 2 blocks from Eastern Market. I plan on going up tonight with some of my neigbors tonight....I have lived on the Hill since 1982. One of the factors that has kept me on the Hill even through all of the bad times is Eastern Market! Melvin, Tommy and his family with Market Lunch and seafood and meats - the Calomiris family etc...and the outside vendors too. I shop for the week every Saturday and Sunday. When I have had a bad week, I go there to "feel the community" and then my week's woes are lifted.
I will help organize or whatever we need to do to get that market open fully - but love that I have heard that we can do something temporary this weekend! How about blocking off entire street to let vendors have tented areas - just idea.....
Thank goodness we have Tommy Wells as our councilmember! I know that you will push for emergency funds etc.
(6) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:47:49
I was so devastated to hear about this terrible loss, for the merchants, their patrons, and the whole Capitol Hill community. I sincerely hope we can get a temporary situation up and going for the vendors soon, and that we can rebuild Eastern Market to all her former glory as quickly as possible. I would be happy to be a part of any organizing committee that is going to make this re-building happen.
(7) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:51:40
On behalf of Brian Alcorn:

Councilman Wells,

Thanks for your support and immediate concern in helping Eastern Market recover. I know you will be committed to seeing a swift and logical recovery.

In the interim, I would urge you to take steps to continue the viability of the Saturday and Sunday marketplaces in this time of crisis.

Working with remaining local business owners, I urge you to consider closing 7th between Pennsylvania and North Carolina on the weekends to all but pedestrian traffic -- so vendors can continue commerce through the critical summer season. This will take commitment on behalf of the DC government as well as resources - but think this could be a quick fix as the Market and its surrounding sidewalks are almost certainly going to be fenced off out of public safety concerns.

Again thanks for interim steps and best regards.
Written by Charles Allen (Super Administrator)
(8) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:52:55
While I currently live in Pittsburgh, this story literally brought tears to my eyes. When I lived and worked in DC, I spent MANY weekends at this historic marketplace.

All too often people consider Washington a transient city, with no real sense of personal identity. It is unique places like the Eastern Market that make Washington not just a seat of government, but a wonderful place to live in its own right.

Please bring back this bit of local flavor with all possible speed. I will absolutely make the trek "home" for a crab cake sandwich on opening day.
(9) Untitled
2007-04-30 11:53:34
My wife and I live on the Hill in part because of Eastern Market and a lunch we had at Tunnicliff's in 1993.

We know many of the vendors - the Canales, the Calomiris, Jack at the Cheese booth - and as importantly, they know us (the cheeses to recommend, the jokes to laugh at).

I'm grateful that Tommy is responding to this so quickly.
Written by Christoph Berendes (Registered)
(10) Untitled
2007-04-30 12:02:25
I have been going to the Eastern Market since I transferred here 1991. It is one of the most unique aspects in a city of remarkable places. I was very upset this morning to hear the news. I would hope that repairing the market is a priority, for the vendors who each make so special, for the customers for whom it cannot be replaced and for Washington DC-for whom so much of her history has been sold in the name of progress.
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