The Southern Aid Society building was designed in 1919 by architect Isaiah T. Hatton (1883-1921) and completed in 1921.

In addition to housing the headquarters of the Southern Aid Society, one of the oldest black insurance companies in the country, the building also housed the Dunbar Theatre and professional offices. The Dunbar Theatre was a popular jazz venue and movie theater. In 2004 the building was awaiting restoration.

Isaiah T. Hatton was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, and moved to Washington as a child, graduating from M Street High School in 1905. He studied steam engineering and mechanical drafting, and worked as a draftsman in the office of architect William Sidney Pittman. Beginning in 1912, he was listed as an architect in DC city directories. In addition to the Southern Aid Society Building, Hatton designed the Whitelaw Hotel (1839 13th Street, NW), the Industrial Savings Bank (12th and U streets), the Murray Palace Casino (918 U Street), and a number of churches and private residences.


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