For now, the food vendors and others who set up shop inside Washington, D.C.'s famed Eastern Market are on the streets after the beloved 1873 building by Adoph Cluss lost its slate roof and much of its interior in a three-alarm fire on April 30. The red-brick exterior walls, with their corbelled cornices and round-arch window and door frames, are mainly intact. City officials say it's likely that an electrical short caused the blaze. Mayor Adrian Fenty has pledged to rebuild the brick structure, which the city owns, at an estimated cost of about $20 million to $30 million. The project could take up to two years. Baird Smith, principal and director of preservation at local firm Quinn Evans | Architects, says his firm had designs for a comprehensive rehabilitation of the building—which was roundly supported by a rather protective Capitol Hill community—ready to go to bid this summer. The structure will need a new roof and ridge monitors, says Smith, as well as major repairs to interior walls, windows, and doors.
Because Eastern Market, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, will now be vacant, the building's reconstruction will allow the replacement of its concrete floor slab atop a cast-iron framework. Previous efforts to renovate the structure were shelved amid community controversy, Smith says, so Eastern Market has not been fully rehabbed since 1977.