Photo by @IAFF36, used with permission
The iconic DC Hardware store is all but a ruin, this morning. Firefighters still remain on-scene to make sure the remaining paint products aren’t reigniting, and that the fire they fought most of the night doesn’t spread any further than it did. The south side of Pennsylvania Avenue between 10th and 12th is still blocked off by fire trucks and emergency personnel, and as the photo above shows, what’s left may not be salvageable.
Hill resident and COO of Anacostia Playhouse Julia Christian set up a Give Forward campaign late last night to benefit the owner and staff of Frager’s, with a target of $100,000. There is already more than $2,000 in the donations box across 32 donors. While Frager’s was likely insured, coping with any disaster like this isn’t as straight forward as the insurance commercials lead you to believe.
More than just the shop, there’s a whole staff at Frager’s who lost their place of work last night in the fire. Matchbox owner Fred Herrmann told DCist late yesterday that any Frager’s staffer who needs temporary work should come to their Barracks Row location on 8th St SE today between 2 and 5pm and he’ll do his best to put them right to work. I would suspect that following the lead of The Tune Inn and Capitol Lounge and elsewhere, there will be a fundraiser in the near future to benefit the staff as well.
There’s a big hole in the Capitol Hill community this morning. Though there are promises from Councilmember Tommy Wells and Mayor Vincent Gray to help Frager’s rebuild, it’s going to be a long and arduous process to get back to anything like normal. As a local archaeologist wrote yesterday, “It all changes, and we never seem to record the right things in the right order at the right time. It’s hard to know what to do.”
I can only think of one thing to do today: appreciate your neighborhood and city institutions. By fire or by tragedy, they may leave before we’re ready. This city is full of many beautiful, incredible places like Frager’s, places that can’t easily be replaced or rebuilt, that are unique to our place and our time, special threads that hold together neighborhoods and communities. Our communities need places like Frager’s the same way they need schools and fire stations and hospitals. They’re just not the same without them.
Help Frager’s rebuild if you can, or help make sure your own institutions stay healthy in your community, it’s doing DC a good deed, and that truly matters.