History of Fahrney's Pens is the History of Washington
The year was 1929, the stock market had crashed and America had fallen into the Great Depression. But one man, determined to beat the odds, decided to start a business despite the lackluster economy of the time. This was the year Earl Fahrney founded Fahrney’s Pens as a fountain pen repair shop in Washington, DC. With discretionary spending in a lull, Mr. Fahrney’s repair business thrived. He slowly expanded and ultimately decided to sell new writing instruments, including the “revolutionary” ballpoint pen.
In 1950, Mr. Fahrney relocated the business to the historic Willard Hotel on F Street. With the move he added the store’s tagline “The Write Place” which remains the motto to this day. For the next 21 years the Willard served as Fahrney’s home.
In 1961, Mr. Fahrney hired Odell Chappell who was the store’s first female employee. “The Pen Lady” as she became known, is now retired, though her tireless dedication to Fahrney’s, her customers, and the pen industry has been an inspiration to all who know her.
Mr. Fahrney retired after relocating the store to New York Avenue in 1971. He subsequently sold Fahrney’s Pens to Jon and Corinne Sullivan in 1972. Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan upheld Mr. Fahrney’s unique passion for writing instruments. They also shared his commitment to customers and employees, which is one of the reasons that Fahrney’s Pens has retained such loyalty on both fronts for so many years. Eventually, Jon Sullivan stepped back and handed the day-to-day operations to his son, Chris, who demonstrates the same passion and tradition that have been a hallmark of Fahrney’s Pens for over 80 years.
Throughout the years, Fahrney’s Pens has supplied fine writing instruments to some of Washington, DC’s most prominent officials. For many years they sold Pentel Pens, which were among John F. Kennedy’s favorites, to offices in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Longtime customers include Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez (D-Tex.) and columnist George F. Will of the Washington Post. After his ordination as Pope in 1978, Odell Chappell sent the late Pope John Paul II a tiny white Chalanna fountain pen trimmed in red and gold, to accompany his papal wardrobe.
Fahrney’s Pens remains a family-owned business with a commitment to our customers, who have rewarded us with loyalty rare in the 21st Century. Pens and so much more – stationery, watches, men’s jewelry – are all available at Fahrney’s Pens, where our expertise and service are unparalleled.
Visit our downtown Washington, DC store.
1317 F St. NW
Just a block from Metro Center.
Mon-Fri: 9:30am to 6:00pm, EST
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