Changes on The Row: Bringing the Past to the Present

Ghost Mural: Senart's Oyster House

Senart's Oyster House's Ghost Mural

An historic site is returning to the corridor, as an oyster house moves back into 520 8th Street, SE. Xavier Cervera, also owner of Lola’s, Molly Malone’s and The Chesapeake Room, has planned an 80-seat restaurant with patio seating for 22 patrons.

The current site of the Capitol Hill Veterinary Clinic, the north side of the building is the location of one of Barracks Row’s three “ghost murals,” unmaintained and unnoticed for years. When planning the space, Cervera worked with a researcher to determine the age of the building, and discovered a 1913 report identifying the address as the home of Senart’s Oyster House. Cervera told BRMS that “We will definitely be reopening the 520 8th Street building as Senart’s Oyster House. History dictates that we must! That mural alone makes it a natural.”

This mural is the recipient of a grant from the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation, and will be restored under the leadership of Barracks Row’s Main Street’s Design Committee. Recalling an era when Coca-Cola was just 5 cents a glass, the advertisement is the last vestige of some missing pieces of Barracks Row history.

“We believe Eighth Street was once home to a thriving oyster house community,” says Nancy Metzger, a local historian. “We interviewed one woman who remembered playing on Eighth Street as a child around 1915. She told us she vividly remembered the aroma of oyster stew drifting from the oyster houses. She even recalled kids running into oyster houses on a dare and grabbing handfuls of tiny oyster crackers from bowls on the counters!”

The building will require extensive renovation to allow the opening of the restaurant, but we certainly hope it will open spring 2011.

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About Barracks Row Main Street

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.
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