The D.C. Eagle, one of the oldest gay bars in Washington is being forced to shutter its doors by Nov. 30th to vacate its current location at 639 New York Ave., N.W to make way for a new office building courtesy of the The Douglas Development Corporation, one of the city’s largest real estate developers and eminent domain.
Eagle manager Ted Clements said the bar plans to hold a closing party on Nov. 25, with the hope that the popular establishment will have lined up a new location shortly before or after that date.
The D.C. Eagle has moved 4 times in the past 40 years but has always stayed within 4 blocks of its current location.
In the early 60’s group of guys put together dinners for local motorcyclist and leathermen These dinners took place at a bar on 9th Street in NW called Louis’. Which was actually located right across the street from FBI headquarters, and these were the days of J. Edgar Hoover. The bar was renamed Louis’ Spartan Lounge, after the Spartans MC was formed on April 3, 1968. On September 4, 1968, Don Bruce became, what we now refer to as, our first “Baby Spartan.” These dates and events are important to this story, because they would give birth to the legendary DC Eagle.
Eventually, Don Bruce, became one of the early Spartans Presidents. He then decided that the leather crowd should have a home of our own. Don and his brother Eddie pooled their money to open the first of three buildings on 9th Street. The night before the Eagle was to open, Don invited the Spartans to take part in a ceremony. They placed nails into a sculpture of an eagle. This sculpture hung on the wall of that bar until the building was claimed by eminent domain to make way for what was then the “new” DC Convention Center. The Eagle gave flight to a number of other businesses, including the Leather Rack and the Eagle in Exile.
After moving from 9th Street, to make way for a new convention space. The bar closed at the regular hour on moving night and reopened the next day at noon in a brand new location. Many of it’s patrons were drafted into the moving party to make sure everything would be ready.
And now once again it is being forced to re-locate due to the gentrification of Washington D.C.
Douglas Development’s does plan to move the Eagle building to another location on the site of the new development to keep its façade and structure intact because it has historic status.
“They’re going to jack it up, move it, dig out for a parking garage, then cut off the back by 30 feet and put it back somewhere on the block and build a high-rise in the center of the block”
But that’s just the building, the business and it’s patrons have not been invited to come along.
More gay history lost forever.
If only those walls could talk and someone would start a National LGBT Register of Historic Places