Manufacturer: Syracuse China
User: Harvey's Restaurant – Washington D.C.
Date of plate: circa 1939
Notes: From an article by Kent Boses in June 2009, in Greater Greater Washington: "The four-story, iron-fronted building erected shortly after the Civil War on the southeast corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 11th Street, NW, ended up being the city's oldest and most famous restaurant for sixty-six years.
"Though the original structure was built ca. 1820, the building was completely remodeled in 1866 by the Harvey brothers for their restaurant, originally known as Harvey's Ladies' and Gentlemen's Oyster Saloon.
"The layout of the building was as follows. The first floor was a public bar and restaurant for men. The second floor, accessible by a separate entrance, was the ladies' dining room. The third floor was private dining rooms. The fourth floor was nothing more than a sham front erected to conform to the cornice line of the adjacent buildings.
"Harvey's Restaurant was established in 1858 at the corner of 11th and C Streets, NW, later locating to 11th and Pennsylvania in 1866. From the time of their relocation, they entertained the political and literary leaders of the nation for sixty-six years. Every President from Ulysses S. Grant to Franklin D. Roosevelt dined in the building.
"When its building on Pennsylvania Avenue was razed in 1932, Harvey's moved to Connecticut Avenue adjacent to the Mayflower Hotel. [This would have been the location the restaurant was in when this plate was ordered.] In 1970, it moved to 18th and K Streets when the Farragut North Metro station necessitated the razing of its Connecticut Avenue building."
From the Washington Post in February 1977: "Harvey's was known as 'the restaurant of the Presidents.' It was a favorite of J. Edgar Hoover and in the late '40s and early '50s was usually listed as one of America's most popular.
"Around 1966, Harvey's was purchased by Alex Stuart and his partner Seth Heartfield Jr. At the time, Harvery's had gone through several owners and, according to Stuart, was on the verge of bankruptcy when he and Hartfield took over. 'It had deteriorated,' Stuart said. 'It only kept going because people from all over the country knew about it and came to eat there.'
"When Harvey's was forced out of its Connecticut Avenue location, Stuart said he immediately looked west. 'It was the way the city was flowing. It was the only way to go,' he said. 'I just didn't want to go too far from where we were.'
"The first choice was the store front at 18th and L Streets NW that was obtained by Latt's clothing store. The second was the basement of the building at 18th and K owned by the International Association of Retail Clerks. To a veteran restaurateur the basement location presented several problems. The space was split in two parts with a corridor between, there was no direct access from the street. Stuart's answer was to spend $25,000 on a stairway to 18th Street, to use the smaller part of the space for a hollow square cocktail lounge and the larger for restaurant seating. Remembering the past, he also arranged for evening customer parking in the next building."
Harvey's finally closed in the early 1990s.
White body plate with Syracuse China's Econo-Rim design. At the top of the plate coming down the verge and into the well are the stacked words "Famous Harvey's Seafoods" in red. The word "Famous" is in a thin script font with a drawing of a chef's head and toque following it. The word "Harvey's" is in all capital letters in a heavy stylized block font. The word "Seafoods" is also in a thin script font and is preceded by a drawing of a red lobster.
Plate photos: Daniel Travis Frey
Research: Susan Phillips
Author: Ed Phillips