A Rich History

The M.A. Winter Building was constructed in 1908/09 at an estimated cost of $50,000 by “Colonel” Mahlon Adolphus Winter and George W. Faris to house Colonel Winter’s patent medicine business, which he called “proprietary medicines.”  Today, we might call him a “Snake Oil Salesman” and consider his remedies of questionable medical value.  In 1906 a British medical journal “The Lancet” listed his medicines under the title of “Quack Advertising” and added:

“The remedy in question, which is guaranteed by the vendors to mitigate or remove a great variety of aliments, is “composed of the choicest barks, roots, and herbs.”  The absurdity of asking a medical man to sell a quack remedy of unknown composition, guaranteed to give relief in a multitude of diseases might serve a purpose in a jest- book but not elsewhere.  The truth is that both the M.A. Winter Co. and its wonderful medicines are unworthy of serious consideration.”

Washington Post August 1, 1913

In 1912 Winter and Faris built an addition to the M.A. Winter Building (now known as 1438 U Street) which was built to the specifications of the US Postal Service. The estimated cost of the addition was $46,000. It was the first substation built as a post office in Washington up to that time.  It operated as Post Office Station 9 until 1940. A description of the new building appeared in a Washington Post article of April 7, 1912:

“The Post Office Department intends that this shall be a model substation and in the future the same plans will be used where-ever a substation is erected.”

Washington Post April 7, 1912

By 1915 other offices including the Winter Manufacturing Company, a toilet paper specialties manufacturer, the American Funding Corporation and the Freight Audit and Adjustment Company also occupied the Building.

In 1918 the Building was commandeered by the US Army for use by the War Risk Insurance organization a US Congress chartered agency established to ensure the availability of marine insurance during World War I.

In 1920 the Building was the home a several storage companies: first, Winter Building Storage and in 1923 the National Capital Storage and Moving Company.

Col Winter sold the Building in 1936 to Freda Levy who owned it until 1943. During her ownership the Building was occupied by the Railroad Route Board.

From 1936 through 1942 the Building was leased to the U.S. Postal Commission as a part of the U Street Station. In 1943 the US Maritime Commission was listed as an occupant of the Building.

In the 1960ies records show conflicting information regarding the occupants of the Building. Both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Veteran’s Administration Supply Department are listed as occupants.

The last known use of the Building was as a retail outlet for the St Vincent de Paul Catholic Charity in the early 1970ies. It was an abandoned shell when, in 1985, it was purchased by its current owners and renovated into the office building that it is today.