Some events galvanize a community. While it would be great if these events could be happy or uplifting, the truth is that we seem to be most alive and come together best when we are in the midst of a disaster, or when one of us is badly hurt.
“I try not to think about it very much… it’s like a bruise that is fine unless you touch it,” says Brian Davis, whose accounting business was destroyed along with several others in the Frager’s fire, which took place one year ago.
Davis has since relocated his offices closer to the Capitol, overlooking Stanton Park. Meanwhile, Frager’s itself has been fractionated off into three venues: the main hardware store and the Just Ask rental shop now reside at 1323 E Street, SE. The paint store is located where Mi Vecindad and Il Capo of Capitol Hill most recently operated, at 1129 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. Finally, the garden store has become a beautiful oasis floating on top of a concrete slab at Eastern Market, where the vendors of the aforementioned landmark kept going after the fire gutted it back in 2007.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since Frager’s was decimated in a four-alarm fire. No one can forget the alarms and smoke plume, which was seen as far as Alexandria, Va. and Bethesda, Md. We thought the worst had already happened — the fire — but then we started to see the repercussions of the community at large.
In the first hours after the fire, the community rallied around owner Jon Weintraub and his employees. We all knew it was important to make sure they could start doing business as usual. A fund — to which you can still donate — was set up. Special post-fire t-shirts were printed up and sold: before the fire, the t-shirts did not read, “Not On Our Watch, 6/5/13” on the back, for obvious reasons. The t-shirts became reminders to support local business because you never know when another fire will take a beloved institution away from us (see also: The Argonaut, the Tune Inn).
We shared stories, we took photos, we cried and laughed and bought a lot of plants and mulch and pretty much anything that Frager’s could keep in stock. And now, we are happy in knowing that an old friend is still in our midst, even though it’s divided and spread out between three stores. More than $13,000 (Update: Nicky Cymrot, President of the Capitol Hill Community Foundation informs me that the amount exceeds now $180,000) was raised by this community to support Frager’s, and we hope the rebuilding process can continue, even if the healing is still a little –or a lot– painful.
By Maria Helena Carey No Comments Views