With all the development along Georgia Avenue in the last couple of years, and with more to come, I thought it would be fun to start a new occasional series looking at the original developers of the neighborhood. To start off the series, I decided to feature Lewis E. Breuninger who was responsible for building the houses on the 700 block of Otis Place.
Breuninger was born in 1859 at Bel Air, Maryland. His parents were German immigrants, his father originally from Baden and his mother from Bavaria. He began his business career in 1887, engaging in the dairy business, in Washington. He did this for fifteen years until 1902, at which time he entered the building and general construction trades. He was the sole proprietor of L.E. Breuninger until 1918 when he went into partnership with his sons, Henry L. and Lewis T. Breuninger.
By 1929, the firm had erected more than two thousand homes and apartment structures in the Washington area, including the homes on the 700 block of Otis Place. Breuninger retired from the business ca. 1932 leaving the business to his sons. He died ten years later in 1942.
In addition to real estate, Breuninger was president of the Real Estate Mortgage & Guaranty Corp., a member of Columbia Country Club, and a trustee of the Foundry Methodist Church, the Central Union Mission, and American University.
Ads marketing the houses on the 700 block of Otis Place (then numbered as the 600 block) first start to show up in area newspapers in April 1917 with houses listed for $4,650. Construction continued until the advent of World War I which put a general stop to most area construction. After the War’s end, construction resumed until the street was built out in 1920.
Below is an ad from 1919 listing all the features buyers could expect to find when visiting the Otis Place exhibit home.