Beneath The Tombs: A Rich Art History


Kathryn Baker is a Hoya Staff Writer.

Few restaurants have had as large an impact on the Georgetown community as The Tombs. There, men have proposed on bent knee, alumni have reunited and students have gathered for trivia nights, dance parties and 21st birthday celebrations. From its opening in 1962 to its role in the 1985 drama “St. Elmo’s Fire,” The Tombs is quintessentially Georgetown.

Yet beyond the burgers, booze, serenades and sports games, The Tombs is not just a favorite restaurant for Georgetown residents. It is an archive — a treasure chest brimming with works of art. Mainly sports-related or historical in theme, these pieces of art serve not only as conversation starters, but also as opportunities to explore Washington, D.C.’s history.

With life constantly charging ahead, there often seems to be little motivation to stop and revisit the past. The Tombs has worked to counter disinterest by featuring works of art that encapsulate the Georgetown spirit. Its dozens of illustrations and posters of 20th century propaganda remind us of our strength in unity, encouraging us to come together as a community.

A Vision Comes to Life

When the late Richard McCooey (C ’52) founded The Tombs, he had a vibrant vision: build a pub that would keep student celebration close to Georgetown University’s campus and bring all members of the community together. Both a literature and history buff, Richard McCooey wanted the pub’s decor to be rustic but timeless.

“He wanted it to feel like it had always been here,” Karen McCooey, an art curator for The Tombs, said in an interview with The Hoya.


To create that feeling, Richard McCooey was involved in every step of the restaurant’s development. The custom brick floor was inspired by a church in western Virginia. For the booths, inspired by the seating he saw in a bar in Princeton, N.J. he selected authentic leaded glass from a building in D.C.

Richard McCooey…

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