On Line: Briggs Filtration Co. & Hot Shoppes

Hot Shoppes warehouse (center), Briggs Filtration Co. factory (right), from the 1955 Hot Shoppes Annual Report, Univ. of Houston Library

In my seemingly never ending quest to discover and decipher industries that were served by the B&O on the Georgetown Branch I have often had to put pins in things until more information comes to light or I have the time to delve deeper into said customers. A few months back a chance photo on Facebook did just such a thing; opened the door to some brand new views of industries that I know very little about.

We’re going to take a look at two industries; The Briggs Filtration Co. (aka Briggs Clarifier Co.) and Hot Shoppes (which eventually became Marriott Corp.) which were located next door to one another in Bethesda, MD at River Road, yet were served by completely separate sidings. Let’s start with an overhead view from Historic Aerials, ca 1949:

Hot Shoppes in the center, Briggs Filtration Co. to the right. Ca 1949. Historic Aerials

Briggs Clarifier / Briggs Filtration Co.

Briggs produced valves, hot water heating boilers and oil filters. A simple Google search will turn up various patents (1) and law suit filings, along with some trade catalogs and maybe even an advertisement. A bit of a digression to Georgetown: while I don’t have a detailed history worked up, what I can gather is that their office was located in Georgetown at 3262 K St, right across the street from Wilkins-Rogers Milling Co. The 1916 Sanborn map reads “Flour & Feed Ware Ho” located at 3262 K St.:

Sanborn Map, 1903-1916. LoC.gov

The 1927 Sanborn Map:

Sanborn map, 1927.

I checked a Sanborn map that has a 1932 date and it does not show Briggs Clarifier listed, but rather Mutual Building Supply Co.:

Sanborn map, 1932.
A 1938 Briggs Clarifier Co. advertisement. Via eBay.

Ok, back to Bethesda. At some point they either moved or expanded (or perhaps were co-located) to a location in Bethesda at River Rd. off of Landy Ln. This fairly large facility, on the East side of Landy Ln. included several warehouse / manufacturing structures. Here is the Sanborn Map ca 1957:

Sanborn Map, 1927-1957.

As you can see from the map, the B&O siding ran down Landy Ln, passing alongside the factory complex. Later advertising shows the name changed to The Briggs Filtration Co. and also had a Bethesda, MD address:

September, 1949 – Modern Railroads magazine. Briggs Filtration Co. advertisement. Google Books.

Hot Shoppes / Marriott Corp.

I’m not going to go into detail on the history of Hot Shoppes & Marriott because it’s been done before in lots of detail and with great imagery! The Streets of Washington blog did a great post on it some years back. Check that out to get a feel for the background of this local DC institution. I posted this photo last April of the Hot Shoppes HQ located at 5161 River Rd, with the Briggs Filtration Co just off to the right.

J. Willard Marriott and George Romney standing in front of the offices of Hot Shoppes, Inc. , 1959. Multimedia Archives, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, P0164 J. Willard and Alice Sheets Marriott Photograph Collection
https://collections.lib.utah.edu/ark:/87278/s6029bvz
Area around Hot Shoppes. Note the siding passing behind the building and serving an overhead crane, for unloading heavy items. Also note the coal house & boiler room in the far North corner. Sanborn Map, 1927-1957.
Hot Shoppes warehouse (interior). I believe the view is facing North, with the railroad siding outside the structure on the left side. From the 1955 Hot Shoppes Annual Report, Univ. of Houston Library

Judging from the photo, it’s obvious that Hot Shoppes would receive all sorts of perishables related to the bustling restaurant industry. Machinery, furniture and other supplies related to the expansion of the business would also probably pass through the warehouse. There was also a coal house & boiler room at the north end of the building.

May 30, 1956. B&O switcher crossing River Rd. In the background, the Hot Shoppes warehouse is visible. Note the lead for Landy Ln just off to the right side of the loco. Photo by R. Mumford, B&ORRHS Collection.
May 1973 – B&O EMD GP9 6589 (blt 1958) is Crossing River Rd heading East toward downtown Bethesda.Photo by Wm. Duvall.

In this fantastic photo from Mr. Bill Duvall there’s a lot to see. The view is facing away from the Marriott warehouse, standing on Landy Ln. The yellow & white sign next to the loco reads “Marriott Corporation, 5161 River Road.” The fast food restaurant behind the loco is none other than a JR Hot Shoppes restaurant. The slogan reads “Happiness is Eating Here.”

As a side note, I attended Fourth Presbyterian Church throughout my teen years. We would go to Roy Rogers (which succeeded JR Hot Shoppes) every Sunday after church with friends. It is now a McDonald’s. Note the WDCA20 studio and tower in the background. I may or may not have some friends who climbed to the top of that tower one hot summer about twenty years ago.

BONUS: If we look to the other direction from the photo of the two gentlemen above, we see additional industries just out of view that were also served by rail. There was an auto body/repair shop and more. The siding went between the larger structure and the two smaller sheds, spanning the entire length of the buildings.

Facing the other direction as the above photo, looking West. The GB “main line” was just behind and along that chain-link fence. From the 1955 Hot Shoppes Annual Report, Univ. of Houston Library

Back in 2003, when I went on my first Georgetown Branch exploration, we stumbled across rails embedded in the ground here where the auto repair shop was once located. We also walked around the area near Hot Shoppes / Briggs Clarifier. You can view the photos in the Gallery, here. I hope you’ve enjoyed a bit more insight into the Briggs Filtration Co. & Hot Shoppes warehouses in Bethesda.

Epilog

The Hot Shoppes facility is still standing. It now houses the Washington Episcopal School. They have modified much of the facility but the overall structure can still be observed today.

The Briggs Filtration facility is now gone, having been razed and turned into a soccer field for the adjacent school. However, for the time being you can still view the old structure on Google Street View! (Until they update it.)

And as one final gasp for the old Georgetown Branch, tracks are still visible embedded in Landy Ln. Go visit them when you can.

If you have any additional information, maps, photos or stories about these industries, I’d love to hear about them!

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