- The Java Shack building in 1982, when it still served as headquarters of the National Socialist White People's Party. (Photo courtesy Java Shack.)
Even if they're not the norm, there are still people that remember when the space now occupied by Java Shack in Clarendon operated as the headquarters of the American Nazi Party. But last week, someone apparently wanted to make sure that we never forget.
Dale Roberts, the coffeehouse's owner, doesn't usually close up in the evenings. But on Feb. 28, he found himself filling in for one of his employees. His final sweep of the tiny store's bathroom yielded a strange find: a flier plastered with photos of the shop's heyday as the headquarters of an American Nazi group.
"Gone but not forgotten," states the flier, which also references the "good old days" when the building was owned by the National Socialist White People's Party ("an organization of decent, law-abiding white folk ... JUST LIKE YOU", it adds). Yellow smiley faces adorned with Hitler's trademark 'stache and bangs flank the message.
- A scan of the flier that Java Shack owner Dale Roberts found in the store's bathroom last week.
The building that now houses Java Shack and a busy pet store did indeed serve as the headquarters of a national socialist group for almost two decades, as Gene Weingarten pointed out in a 2008 Washington Post article. And a commenter on an ARLNow post in December about some other Nazi fliers that popped up in a different neighborhood also referenced the building.
Roberts is well aware of the building's history — he even has a photo from 1982 of the building adorned with swastikas tucked away in a utility closet. While he was still preparing to open Java Shack in 1996, someone approached him outside the store and warned him to "make sure it's the 'right kind' of coffee shop," he says.
But he hasn't heard much about it for years. He told Weingarten in 2008 that he had brought in a spiritual adviser when he moved in to give the site a ritual cleansing.
"What really struck me about this was that they wedged this behind the toilet paper in the bathroom," Roberts says of the paper he found last week. "If you've got something to say, why don't you hang it on the bulletin board?"
He figures there are still people around that remember the party's activities — started by George Lincoln Rockwell, the party owned the building until 1986 — but what surprised him is that someone still has a number of old photos of the site. The flier includes crudely scanned photos of party members standing inside and in front of the building, which is adorned with a swastika above the door and the Nazi flag handing from the facade.
One customer suggests that someone that had heard the stories just decided to pull a prank. "But someone has those photos," Roberts notes. "I couldn't believe it."
- Java Shack as it is today. (Photo: TBD Staff)