For the past decade, Barracks Row Main Street has worked tirelessly to preserve and enhance Capitol Hill’s historic 8th Street, SE, commercial corridor and to revitalize its business community.
The group’s focus is the five blocks of 8th Street that stretch south from Pennsylvania Ave S.E. to the terminus of 8th Street at the Washington Navy Yard along M Street, S.E.
Barracks Row is located eight blocks east of the U.S. Capitol.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015, 4:20 PM Last Updated on Thursday, February 19, 2015, 12:06 PM
No denying season creep. Our new normal is earlier springs, hotter summers and longer falls. But, explain winter? The weather hawks at Barracks Row Main Street are concerned. This time winter has gone too far! February begins event season. The job of our Main Street is to host events that bring “feet to the street”- but not in half a foot of snow.
You may have thought the National Trust for Historic Preservation and its chartered Main Street programs were dedicated solely to historic preservation – with no official connection to events. It’s true; Main Street organizations are in the business of saving special places- especially “downtowns” across the country. But as Richard Moe, president of the National Trust from 1993 to 2010, explains in Changing Places, Rebuilding the Community in the Age of Sprawl (co-authored with Carter Wilkie), today historic preservation “has to do with more than bricks… columns, and cobblestones. It has to do with the way individuals, families, and communities come together in good environments."
Events today become destinations tomorrow
Quality of life is as important as quality of preservation among the nation’s fifteen hundred Main Streets. Moe and many present generation urban planners have a vision of downtown corridors that are respectful of their history but also flourish economically. In addition to handsome, historic facades, successful urban neighborhoods provide well-lit, safe streets, clean sidewalks and viable businesses to serve area employees and residents.
Events are a key element in the Main Streets toolkit. Great events draw local and regional visitors to a formerly challenged area creating a sense of place. The District presently has eight Main Streets. The four oldest are now mature, sophisticated neighborhoods with brand names: Barracks Row, Dupont, H Street and Shaw. After years of hosting unique events, all have now become destinations with their own vital personalities to be visited again and again.
Add one - expand another - Events 2015
Here are the ten Barracks Row Main Street events of 2015.
We began with a new event for a new year: for Valentine’s Day eight BRMS restaurants sponsored a photo booth. The objective: give couples dining out a free, extra-special memento from the Row to take home or download. The outdoor booth stayed very busy until blizzard conditions threatened to blow it down. Watch for our Valentine’s Day activity to return in 2016 – possibly in a covered location!
Every year in early March we publish a new printed business directory/map for distribution at local businesses and hotels. One of our sponsors this year is helping develop an app based on the updated map. Right up to print deadline we do census work - identifying who has moved and who has opened since last year. With 12 commercial blocks (six blocks of 8th Street, SE + cross street blocks) it is always a challenge to capture all the action. The app is a timely addition with social marketing benefits for our businesses. Both map and app will be launched at our Annual Meeting Celebration.
March: celebrate our success in 2014 – April: help the Bunny hide eggs
Mark your calendars: Wednesday, March 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. is Barracks Row’s Annual Meeting Celebration. After Board elections, we salute our Directors at a neighborhood party. All Barracks Row business owners and residents are invited to attend. By tradition our Annual Meeting Celebration takes place at a new business so the owner can meet his neighbors and customers. This year’s celebration will be held the recently opened Verizon store, Wireless Zone, 703 8th St. SE.
Egg Hunt on 8th will take place on Saturday, April 4 from 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. for kids ages 3 to 8. Once again the 9th Street Neighbors group will provide volunteers. Egg Hunt on 8th is co-hosted with Hill Center. Eggs are hidden (by stealthy egg-hiders) on 8th Street and on the Hill Center lawn and garden. There are two prize-winning golden eggs (one at Hill Center and one on 8th Street). We provide free baskets, eggs & the Bunny. Our businesses provide cookies and lemonade.
$20.00 gourmet lunch – Meet the Chefs
Chowhound Alert - don’t miss this one: Taste of 8th is Saturday, May 2 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. A classic "tasting" event and Barracks Row fundraiser our restaurants serve appetizer-size servings of their best dishes. Each "taste" costs $5.00 but the best seller is a 5 Pack - 5 tickets for $20.00. Every course - salads, appetizers, main dishes and desserts - is served outside on our sidewalk cafes. Guests receive a "menu" by course of what is being served at each participating restaurant. It’s easy to put together an impromptu gourmet lunch, course by course, with 20+ restaurants to choose from.
Wednesday, June 3 is Barracks Row's Annual Garden Party from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This dressy cocktail /fundraiser is held at a graceful Capitol Hill Victorian. There are musicians and house tours then it’s time to Meet the Chefs - we highlight four each year. The chefs bring along their newest dishes. Local and national politicians who live nearby attend as well as members of the Marine Corps and US Navy. Invite your neighbors - newcomers love this one!
Fall Festival, Culinary Crawl and Santa
The first weekend of fall brings Barracks Row Fall Festival. Fall Festival 2015 will be held from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 26. 8th Street, SE, becomes a midway where you’ll find 100+ booths, activities and a hot spot where Armed Forces chefs hold a cook off vying to be Top Chef in the military.
At center stage acts run all day while aerialists from Trapeze School DC fly through the air. The US Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs their amazing synchronized marches with no verbal commands. Our restaurants provide ringside seats.
Saturday, November 14 and Sunday, November 15 is Barracks Row's Culinary Education Crawl weekend. Cooking classes run from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 pm. Each chef teaches a class and it works just like a day at college. Students set their schedules and attend whatever classes they want. Over the course of the weekend there may be as many as thirty different classes. Students always eat what they cook but only after a toast to the chef!
Santa Arrives on 8th Street on Saturday, December 12 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The 8th St. Fire Department escorts Santa to his "Workshop" by fire truck. Listen for the sirens! Santa's Workshop (Designed by Oehme van Sweden) is set up at the corner of 8th and G St, SE. We provide a photographer and one of our restaurants donates hot chocolate and cookies. There is an electric train (that gets almost as much attention as Santa) plus an Elf to keep the kids and train on track. This is a Toys for Tots event coordinated with the Marine Corps - bring along a toy for under privileged children.
To volunteer or for more info on BRMS events: 202-544-3188.
Barracks Row Main Street is a designated DC Main Streets commercial district. Barracks Row Main Street is funded in part by the Department of Small and Local Business Development.