Built in 1894 on a lot located in the triangle between the old Washington and Baltimore Turnpike and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in Hyattsville, this building signifies early commercial architecture in a Maryland Victorian suburb.
The three story brick building first served as a blacksmith shop and carriage manufacturer up until 1911 when it was temporarily used as a firehouse. By 1913 the building was converted into a hardware store where it remained in operation for 80 years, until closing in 1992.
Later that year, the lot was sold to the current owners and reopened as “Franklin’s” general store and cafe. After over a 100 years this building continues to be a prominent element in the historic district of Hyattsville.
Painted advertisements once covered the entire east front and north side of the building. The age of the automobile, however, called for flashy signs geared towards catching the eye of motorists passing by, like the Westinghouse Appliances neon sign mounted above the building.
You can see the sign’s electrical parts are no longer in operation as the neon elements have been removed. I was unable to find out exactly when the sign was put up, please comment below if you can help me pinpoint the year. Today, the two signs stand together as important historical artifacts that encompass the entire 20th century.
In this post war historic photo of the Hyattsville Hardware Building, you can see the Westinghouse Appliances sign did not exist at this time. The date of the photo is unknown, most likely sometime after World War II and before 1977.
You can see how Hyattsville Hardware changed when the storefront was drastically redesigned in 1978. The left image was taken in 1977, a small glimpse of the Westinghouse sign structure above the building is visible in the redesign photo from 1978.
Did you know?
Most buildings from this era in Hyattsville were replaced beginning in the 1930s.