On Thursday, December 17, 2020, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board is scheduled to consider the landmark nomination submitted by DCPL for Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse. The nomination highlights the important social history of this venue as a meeting place for the LGBTQ community in DC during the mid- to late-twentieth century.
The nomination is unusual; it argues for what is known as a non-contiguous landmark designation. Annie’s has occupied two sites: it operated out of 1519 Seventeenth Street NW from 1948 until 1985, at which time it moved to 1609-1611 Seventeenth Street NW.
1519 Seventeenth Street is a two-story Italianate building (constructed in 1878) now operating as JR’s Bar. 1609-1611 Seventeenth Street consists of two interconnected commercial buildings in the Italianate style (1609, constructed in 1904) and the Tudor Revival Style (1611, constructed in 1926).
When George Katinas leased the property at 1519 Seventeenth Street NW in 1948, he changed its name from the Paramount Café to the Paramount Steakhouse. George’s younger sister, Anne (Annie) Katinas Kaylor, worked at the restaurant and became a favorite of the patrons. George added Annie’s name to the restaurant c. 1962 and it officially became “Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse.”
Under the ownership and operational leadership of the Katinas family, the restaurant gained a reputation as a friendly environment, accepting of individuals from all walks of life. As early as the 1950s, the restaurant became known as a local safe haven for the LGBTQ community. Annie herself once saw two gay men holding hands under a table in the restaurant and encouraged the couple to hold hands above the table. At Annie’s, the LGBTQ community could freely engage in getting to know each other at a time when society at large–and the federal government–rejected alternative lifestyles and forced many individuals to hide their sexual preferences. Before the widespread establishment of gay bars and nightclubs in the 1970s, restaurants like Annie’s were critical for DC’s LGBTQ community to meet and socially interact.
DC became an LGBTQ regional epicenter in the early twentieth century, during the post-Civil War Great Migration. The District’s growing community was not openly welcomed; rather, it was forced to develop largely in secret. By the mid-twentieth century, the LGBTQ community increasingly settled in specific areas of the city, and one of these areas was Dupont Circle. As the nation’s capital, DC was central to the LGBTQ civil rights campaign. Solidarity remained important within this increasingly politicized context, and it was critical for LGBTQ individuals to find safe havens where they could gather and socialize.
Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse built its ties to the LGBTQ community in its original location at 1519 Seventeenth Street and maintained those ties when it moved to its current location at 1609-1611 Seventeenth Street. The High Heel Race, a popular Dupont circle event, began in 1986 as a sprint between JR’s Bar (at 1519 Seventeenth Street) and Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse (at 1609-1611 Seventeenth Street). The annual event still concludes at Annie’s. Since 2010, when gay marriage became legal in DC, Annie’s has been the site of numerous weddings for same-sex couples. Although Annie Katinas Kaylor passed away in 2013 and George Katinas in 2014, the restaurant is still owned and operated by the Katinas family and continues be a significant local LGBTQ site.
Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse meets DC Inventory Criterion A for its association with events that contributed significantly to the heritage and culture of DC, and DC Inventory Criterion B for its association with social movements and groups that contributed significantly to the heritage and culture of DC.
If designated, Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse will join the Slowe-Burrill House, the Dr. Franklin E. Kameny House, and the Furies Collective in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites for its association with the LGBTQ history in the District of Columbia.
Click here to read the complete nomination, written by EHT Traceries.
Update: the Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously in support of the designation!