The Old Ebbitt Grill at 1427 F St. NW will be torn down next spring but the aged wood-paneled interior of the popular downtown bar will be relocated into the new Metropolitan Square office/retail complex next door, officials of The Oliver T. Carr Co. said yesterday.
The interior, which was moved once before when the original Ebbitt House inn was torn down, will be preserved as the center of a new Old Ebbitt planned by owners Stuart Davidson and John Laytham, who also own the string of Clyde's restaurants.
But the fate of the historic Rhodes Tavern building adjacent to the Ebbitt, which some preservationists have been fighting for years to save, remains undecided.
The Carr company plans to clear the land occupied by the Old Ebbitt Grill and the now-vacant Rhodes Tavern to make room for the second phase of Metropolitan Square construction.
Though Carr has won a court decision allowing demolition of Rhodes Tavern, preservationist Joseph Grano is still trying to force Carr to redesign the project and to save the structure.
There is currently no opposition to the relocation of the Old Ebbitt Grill.
Grano, who heads the Citizens Committee to Save Historic Rhodes Tavern, is leading a drive to put an initiative on the ballot next year in a last-ditch effort to force Carr to save the building. He says 48 members of Congress have cosponsored a resolution calling for the building's preservation.
Philip R. Carr, Carr Co. vice president, said yesterday that several possible sites are being considered for relocating the tavern structure.
Carr said six to eight months still remain to resolve the fate of the tavern because construction is not scheduled to start until next spring on the second phase of Metropolitan Square, a project that wraps around three sides of the main Garfinckel's store at 14th and F streets NW.
Old Ebbitt's manager, Matt Sheehan, said the grill will be closed next April to remove the interior furnishings. After work is completed on the new location, the "new" Old Ebbitt will open May 1.
The Old Ebbitt Grill was founded in 1856 and the interior was moved to its present site during the 1920s to make way for construction of the National Press Building.
President McKinley lived in the original Old Ebbitt Inn when he was a senator, and five other presidents -- Grant, Andrew Johnson, Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Harding -- were frequent diners at the Ebbitt.
Old Ebbitt's new location will be on the atrium level of Metropolitan Square. Owners Davidson and Laytham will lease 13,492 square feet in the square for a two-level facility.
The upper level will house the grill, an oyster bar and a lounge that will open onto a courtyard.