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You Are Here: Home » Featured, LGBT History » The D.C. Eagle One Of The Oldest Bars In Washington Forced To Close

 

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

About the author

Will Kohler has written 6649 articles on this blog.

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

1 Comment

  1. Bob in Chicago says:

    I remember the original D.C. Eagle. The first time I stepped inside I thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was amazing and exciting. It was one of the first gay bars I had ever gone into. It was packed with hot cruzing men. It had a restaurant which was infamous on Sunday morning brunches. You know the story. The cleaned up preppy gay sitting across from the scruffy trick from the night before. It was always fun checking out who spent the night with who. The spectacular Eagle art piece made out of nails was a sight to behold. I always wondered whatever happened to it when the building was razed

    I was back home last Christmas visiting family. I was driving down New York Avenue headed towards the baths to avoid going home after spending the evening in Annapolis with friends. I got a double flat tire just two blocks from the Eagle and decided to go inside while waiting for a tow truck. Within a few minutes I found myself in the men’s room getting a bj from a hottie. I was close to coming when I got a call from the tow truck driver on my cell that he was waiting outside. Damn! If I hadn’t been having sex I would have waited hours!

    Lots and lots of memories of the D.C. Eagle. All three of them! I feel like so many memories are fading away. Picking up sex on the internet is not nearly as memorable.

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