(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser dedicated the District’s One Judiciary Square building, located at 441 4th Street, NW, as the “Marion S. Barry, Jr. Building,” thereby honoring and preserving the former District of Columbia mayor’s many contributions into perpetuity.
“Mayor Marion Barry embodied that DC spirit of never letting a setback become a knockout, and always fought to bring opportunity to our residents,” said Mayor Bowser. “Because of his ‘big vision,’ thousands of young people received the opportunity to succeed with their first job. He created programs that helped residents buy their first homes, expanded access to the middle class for DC families, and ensured prosperity was shared among all eight wards. This dedication is a fitting tribute to our Mayor for Life by honoring his legacy and service to the city he loved.”
At the request of Mrs. Cora Masters Barry, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson helped lead the effort to rename the building after Mayor Barry. In 2019, the Marion S. Barry Building Designation Act of 2019 was jointly introduced by all Members of the Council and was passed unanimously. Mayor Bowser signed the bill on April 27, 2020. While repairs were being made to the John A. Wilson Building from 1992 to 1999, the One Judiciary Square property housed the offices of the mayor and the Council. Mayor Barry held office at the 441 4th Street location beginning in 1995 when he was elected for a fourth term. At the end of his term in 1999, he was the last mayor to hold office in that building.
“This is a significant, historic event that is the beginning, not only of telling the story of the contributions of Marion S. Barry, Jr., but also of the city,” said Mrs. Cora Masters Barry. “My husband loved Washington, DC and its residents. He would be so honored to know that Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson have honored his legacy in this wonderful way. I want to thank them.”
In 2018, Mayor Bowser, Mrs. Barry, Members of the Council, and members of the Mayor Marion S. Barry, Jr. Legacy Committee unveiled an eight-foot-tall bronze statue of Mayor Barry at the John A. Wilson Building.
Mayor Barry served four terms as mayor (1979 to 1991 and 1995 to 1999) and three tenures on the Council – as an At-Large Councilmember from 1975 to 1979, then as Ward 8 Councilmember from 1993 to 1995, and again from 2005 to 2014.
Marion Barry was a pioneer and champion for District residents, from the beginning of the District’s Home Rule, to the creation of the Marion S. Barry, Jr. Summer Youth Employment Program, which continues to provide employment opportunities for District youth to this day. Mayor Barry worked to ensure that minority-owned businesses finally had access to the District’s major development contracts, and he spearheaded projects that helped revitalize the District, including the Washington Convention Center, Gallery Place, and Washington Harbour. He worked to provide home-buying assistance for residents and increased services for senior citizens. Barry remains beloved in many District neighborhoods, particularly in Ward 8, which he called home for decades.
Prior to his work in District politics, Barry channeled education with activism where – after meeting with the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. at Shaw College in Raleigh, North Carolina – he and others established the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which became an important organizing force during the civil rights movement. Barry was named SNCC’s first national chairman. Marion S. Barry, Jr. earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from LeMoyne College in Memphis, Tennessee and a master’s degree in chemistry from Fisk University. He passed away in the District on November 23, 2014.
One Judiciary Square houses the offices of prominent District Government agencies, including the DC State Board of Elections, the Office of the DC Attorney General, and the DC Office of Zoning, and also serves as a polling place during local elections. From 2010 to 2012, the building underwent a $7.5 million renovation to reduce energy consumption, resulting in a new building management system, digital controls, and upgrades to the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
The Department of General Services (DGS) led the effort to design and provide new signage and entryway welcome mat to reflect the renaming of the building.