06 December 2008
there are all these abandoned buildings in this over grown lot next to the US National Arboretum on New York ave. we pass it a lot and Stephanie has been wanting to sneak in to see about uncovering any information about what it used to be. She always imagined it as a haunted secret government facility. we planned on going multiple times but we finally did yesterday. as soon as we drove up i saw that it was only fenced in from the road and that we could walk right in around back. we parked in the deserted parking lot and of course one of the employees was driving into the site simultaneously. so we contemplated on waiting until he left or just asking if we could take pictures. my idea being the second- as we were walking up he stopped to tell us that no one is allowed onto the property for safety reasons and that we would be escorted if caught. so what did we do...Stephanie's idea- we waited until he drove away and ran in!
it was a rush walking firmly through the ins and outs of the whole place taking pictures like i was doing an illegal national geographic shoot. there was a main building, that looked like a jail, facing the rest of the round smaller buildings. that building was all boarded up but each round building had two gated entrances. they were now being used to store, unexpectedly, shopping carts and no parking signs. one building had a long row of what looked like barred cages where they could have stored large animals. and last but not least there was a silo. the first thing that came to my mind was a concentration camp. it was creepy.
so after we got back to the house i decided to call the arboretum and ask them if they knew anything about it besides that they were now using it to collect waste. it turns out to be the site of a "historic brickyard" started in 1909-1910, becoming one of more than 100 large and small brick makers then located in the Washington, D.C. area. Exploited black laborers at the Federal Brickyards organized into a group referred to as Isaac Cohen's Brotherhood of Labor in 1878 and successfully agitated for higher wages.