Georgetown University Car Barn

Georgetown University Car Barn

Preserving the '60s — the 1760s — with Integrity

In a city filled with landmarks, the Georgetown Car Barn is one of the most distinct buildings in town. Originally built as a tobacco warehouse in 1761, the Car Barn has undergone a wide variety of uses in its 250+ years. During the Civil War it served as home to the city’s horse-drawn trolley cars. Later it became the maintenance facility for the District’s first electric streetcar system. But the Car Barn really came to fame in 1973, when its adjacent staircase — now known as the Exorcist Steps — set the stage for the horror film, The Exorcist.

These historical details added layers of complexity to our recent renovation of the Car Barn. Although the building had been a part of the Georgetown University campus since the 1950s, it was in dire need of structural, mechanical, and historical repairs to better fulfill the needs of today's students. This is where we came in.

We were fascinated by the Car Barn’s age and condition and knew that construction would entail far more than the average academic building renovation. As experts in historical preservation and in close partnership with Douglas Development, our DAVIS team relished this challenge.

  • Project type
  • Architect
    Perkins + Will
  • client
    Georgetown University; Douglas Development Corporation

This was an incredibly old building that made other contractors nervous — but not us. This is our wheelhouse. At DAVIS, we tackle the biggest challenges and excel.

Chris Harzler, Project Executive, DAVIS

Three Different Scopes — One Cohesive Team

As the design-build contractor for the Georgetown Car Barn, our ultimate goal was to modernize the academic space while preserving the building’s historic integrity. And as with most higher education renovations, we knew the building was going to be occupied with students and faculty throughout our time onsite. So we meticulously planned and coordinated the work to reduce disruptions and ensure safety. We also divided the work into three distinct phases to maximize our speed and efficiency.

Phased Services

Built on Respect

At DAVIS, there are many important elements that go into each and every construction project, but none is more valuable than respect. This project is a prime example. By having the utmost respect for the building’s historic legacy, the developer’s vision, and the higher education environment, our DAVIS team fostered a meaningful relationship with all involved parties — and above all, delivered a modernized landmark on time and on budget.