|Dorsch's White Cross Bakery (photo by the author).|
One of the most visible reminders of the neighborhood's bakery heritage is the former Dorsch's White Cross Bakery at 641 S Street, NW, now standing vacant and forlorn as it waits for redevelopment. This property is just a half block east of 7th Street NW, Washington's commercial artery a hundred years ago. The oldest section of the building was built in 1913 as an expansion to an existing bakery run by Peter M. Dorsch (1878-1959) at 1811 7th Street NW. Dorsch had previously worked at bakeries with his younger brothers at various locations in D.C., including K Street in Southwest, Virginia Avenue, and Georgetown, before settling on the upper 7th Street site for his own business. Born in D.C., he was the son of a Bavarian immigrant, Michael Dorsch, who had come to Washington in the 1870s and sold imported German foods before opening a restaurant on 7th Street (perhaps where his son later had his bakery). Peter clearly inherited his father's business acumen, and as his White Cross Bakery prospered, he gradually acquired adjacent real estate at the S Street location until his factory became a sprawling complex of retail space, a baking plant, and various stables and garages for delivery wagons.