Washington, D.C. Text-Only Version
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The National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places welcomes you to discover Washington DC: A Guide to the Historic Neighborhoods and Monuments of Our Nation's Capital. From its beginnings as an undeveloped rural area, to its initial planning as the Nation's capital, as envisioned by Frenchman Pierre Charles L'Enfant, to its growth in size and infrastructure at the turn of the 20th century, to its place today as a political, economic, and cultural center, Washington, DC, has engaging stories to tell about the people and places that have helped shape the Nation and this most capital of cities.
Ninety-six historic places that bring the 200 year history of the city to life are presented in this National Register travel itinerary. Visitors will learn not only about the famous national landmarks and monuments of Washington, such as the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Mall, but will also learn about the historic neighborhoods and local landmarks that make the city so unique. The Octagon House, one of the city's oldest buildings, was the built by Colonel John Tayloe, who offered the use of his home to President and Mrs. Madison for a temporary "Executive Mansion" after the burning of the White House by the British. Madison, who used the tower room above the entrance as a study, signed the Treaty of Ghent there, which ended the War of 1812. Travelers through the itinerary can also discover the Striver's Section Historic District which since the 1870s has been associated with African American leaders in business, education, politics, religion, art, architecture, science and government. The most important of these figures was Frederick Douglass, runaway slave, abolitionist, orator, writer and civil servant, often called the Father of the Civil Rights Movement. As Washingtonians for over a century have been doing, travelers can visit Eastern Market, part of a larger, city-wide public market system that was built to provide an orderly supply of goods to urban residents. In recent years, Eastern Market served as a focal point in the revitalization of the Capitol Hill area, making it once again a "town center," both politically and commercially.
Washington, DC: A Guide to the Historic Neighborhoods and Monuments
of Our Nations Capital offers a variety of ways to discover the city's
historic places. Each property features a brief description of the site's
significance, color and historic photographs, and public accessibility
information. At the bottom of each page, the visitor will also find
a navigation bar containing links to essays on the Federal
Presence, the L'Enfant and McMillan Plans,
and Washington, DC Neighborhoods. These essays
provide historical background, or "contexts," for many of the sites
included in the itinerary. The itinerary can be viewed online, or printed
out for use by visitors to Washington, DC.
Washington, DC is the third of more than 30 communities and regions
working directly with the National Register of Historic Places to create
travel itineraries. Additional itineraries will debut online in the
future. The National Register of Historic Places hopes you enjoy this
virtual travel itinerary of our Nation's Capital. If you have any comments
or questions, please just click on the provided e-mail address, "comments
or questions" located at the bottom of each page.
Welcome to Historic Washington, DC!
On behalf of the 601,000 residents of our nation’s beautiful and historic capital, I want to welcome you to this virtual tour of the District of Columbia. Hop aboard Metrorail, Metrobus, or our D.C. Circulator bus for a comfortable and affordable way to tour the city. Explore our entire city – from the many museums, memorials and other cultural attractions ringing the National Mall to the treasures far beyond Washington’s monumental core, such as the National Arboretum along New York Avenue Northeast or the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in the storied Anacostia neighborhood. Visit spectacular Union Station – designated as a “Great Public Space” by the American Planning Association in 2008 – not only for its historic architectural grandeur, but also for its modern-day excitement as a shopping, dining, entertainment and transportation center.
The District of Columbia’s cultural heritage is rich and varied. The city is home to about 600 historic landmarks and more than 40 historic districts, each with its own unique heritage and appeal. More than 25,000 properties are designated as historic, and most are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places. These include the iconic monuments and commemorative places that define Washington as the nation’s capital, as well as the unique commercial districts, historic homes, beautiful houses of worship and other cultural monuments that make up our many vibrant neighborhoods.
Washington’s communities reflect the diversity and vitality of our city. Downtown D.C. is home to many of our most famous government and cultural institutions, monuments, historic hotels, restaurants, theaters and art galleries. From the hills of historic Anacostia, you can get an unrivaled view of our city’s iconic skyline. In Georgetown, explore some of the District’s oldest buildings and best shopping and dining. On Capitol Hill, government office buildings nestle near elegant Victorian rowhouses in a vibrant residential neighborhood. The brownstones of LeDroit Park have been home to educators at Howard University and many prominent African Americans over the last 150 years. Neighboring Shaw and U Street are the historic home of fraternal organizations, theaters, and jazz clubs that earned the area the nickname “Black Broadway” in the 20th Century. Today, Shaw/U Street is home to a thriving mix of historic treasures and new condo buildings, restaurants and shops.
Through this website, you can explore Washington’s dynamic neighborhoods and learn about our many historic landmarks. Make your next vacation an unforgettable adventure. We’re ready to welcome you to Washington, D.C.!
The plan of the city of Washington was designed in 1791 by Pierre L'Enfant, and mapped the following year; a design which remains largely in place. For nearly a century, the realization of physical changes to the original plan were gradual until the second important benchmark in the development of Washington's urban plan: the McMillan Commission and its 1901-02 recommendations. The McMillan Commission plans were implemented predominantly during the first three decades of the 20th century, and continued sporadically thereafter. For nearly 100 years, a legal height limit of 160' has preserved the broad, horizontal Baroque nature of the city, allowing light and air to reach the pedestrian level, and resulting in a picturesque skyline pierced by steeples, domes, towers and monuments.
On January 24, 1791, President George Washington announced the Congressionally-designated permanent location of the national capital, a diamond-shaped ten-mile tract at the confluence of the Potomac and Eastern Branch Rivers. A survey of the area was undertaken by Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Banneker. Forty boundary stones, laid at one-mile intervals, established the boundaries based on celestial calculations by Banneker, a self-taught astronomer of African descent and one of the few free blacks living in the vicinity. Within this 100 square mile diamond, which would become the District of Columbia, a smaller area was laid out as the city of Washington. (In 1846, one-third of the District was retroceded by Congressional action to Virginia, thus removing that portion of the original district which lay west of the Potomac River.) In March 1791,the surveyors' roles were complemented by the employment of Major Pierre Charles L'Enfant to prepare the plan.
Major L'Enfant (1755-1825), a French artist and engineer who had formed a friendship with George Washington while serving in the Revolutionary War, requested the honor of designing a plan for the national capital. The fact that the area was largely undeveloped gave the city's founders the unique opportunity to create an entirely new capital city.
After surveying the site, L'Enfant developed a Baroque plan that features ceremonial spaces and grand radial avenues, while respecting natural contours of the land. The result was a system of intersecting diagonal avenues superimposed over a grid system. The avenues radiated from the two most significant building sites that were to be occupied by houses for Congress and the President.
L'Enfant specified in notes accompanying the plan that these avenues were to be wide, grand, lined with trees, and situated in a manner that would visually connect ideal topographical sites throughout the city, where important structures, monuments, and fountains were to be erected. On paper, L'Enfant shaded and numbered 15 large open spaces at the intersections of these avenues and indicated that they would be divided among the states. He specified that each reservation would feature statues and memorials to honor worthy citizens. The open spaces were as integral to the capital as the buildings to be erected around them. L'Enfant opposed selling land prematurely, refused to furnish his map to the city commissioners in time for the sale, and was reluctantly relieved of his duties by George Washington. Ellicott was then engaged to produce a map and reproduced L'Enfant's plan from his memory.
In the context of the United States, a plan as grand as the 200 year old city of Washington, DC, stands alone in its magnificence and scale. But as the capital of a new nation, its position and appearance had to surpass the social, economic and cultural balance of a mere city: it was intended as the model for American city planning and a symbol of governmental power to be seen by other nations. The remarkable aspect of Washington, is that by definition of built-out blocks and unobstructed open space, the plan conceived by L'Enfant is little changed today.
The McMillan Plan
As the city approached its centennial, there was a call to develop a comprehensive park system for the city. As early as 1898, a committee was formed to meet with President William McKinley to propose the erection of a monument to commemorate the centennial of the city. A joint committee formed by Congress held its first meeting in February 1900 with Senator James McMillan of Michigan as chairman, and Charles Moore as secretary. At the same time, plans were put forward for the development of a Mall which would include the newly reclaimed Potomac Flats. As the bureaucracy planned for the centennial, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) joined the fray. AIA leaders envisioned the nation's capital as the perfect place for the group to express the ideals of the City Beautiful movement promoted by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The architect of this pivotal fair designed Beaux Arts Classical architecture in a grand and ordered civic space.
When the Senate Commission was formed in 1901 to explore and plan the design of the city, the project then encompassed the historic core. The illustrious committee was comprised of Daniel Burnham, a visionary of the World's Columbian Exposition, as well as landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., architect Charles F.McKim, and sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens.
Foremost in the minds of these men was the amazing foresight and genius of Pierre L'Enfant. The committee lamented the fragmented Mall marred by a railroad station and focused upon restoring it to the uninterrupted greensward envisioned by L'Enfant. In total, the forward-looking plans made by the McMillan Commission called for: re-landscaping the ceremonial core, consisting of the Capitol Grounds and Mall, including new extensions west and south of the Washington Monument; consolidating city railways and alleviating at-grade crossings; clearing slums; designing a coordinated municipal office complex in the triangle formed by Pennsylvanian Avenue, 15th Street, and the Mall, and establishing a comprehensive recreation and park system that would preserve the ring of Civil War fortifications around the city.
To protect the new goals introduced by the McMillan study, the AIA appealed to President Theodore Roosevelt to form a fine arts commission. Established by Congress in 1910 during the Taft Administration, the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) was created as a consulting organization to the government on the design of bridges, parks, paintings, and other artistic matters; an executive order later that year added the design review of all public buildings.
Influenced by the designs of several European cities and 18th century gardens such as France's Palace of Versailles, the plan of Washington, DC was symbolic and innovative for the new nation. Only limited changes were made to the historic city-bounded by Florida Avenue on the north and the waterways on the east, west and south-until after the Civil War. The foremost manipulation of L'Enfant's plan began in the 19th century, and was codified in 1901 when the McMillan Commission directed urban improvements that resulted in the most elegant example of City Beautiful tenets in the nation. L'Enfant's plan was magnified and expanded during the early decades of the 20th century with the reclamation of land for waterfront parks, parkways, an improved Mall and new monuments and vistas. Two hundred years since its design, the integrity of the plan of Washington is largely unimpaired-boasting a legal enforced height restriction, landscaped parks, wide avenues, and open space allowing intended vistas. Constant vigilance is needed by the agencies responsible for design review, it their charge to continue the vision of L'Enfant.
The first Federal presence was the Monumental Core. The monumental core consists of a gigantic triangle anchored by the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the White House. This triangle, carefully oriented to the topography of the low-lying basin in which the federal city was built, provides the basis of the L'Enfant plan and all subsequent modifications.
L'Enfant regarded the Capitol building the central focus of the design of the Federal City. He placed the Capitol on the west end of Jenkin's Hill which he described as " a pedestal waiting for a monument." He felt that public buildings should be placed on hills so that they held commanding views. Axial vistas with reciprocal views were a basic part of his planning philosophy. The Capitol grounds were redesigned by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1874 in the naturalistic tradition with serpentine paths and heavy foliage. In 1897 the Library of Congress was constructed, and no further development took place until the Senate Park Commission Plan of 1902. The Senate and House office buildings and the Supreme Court were constructed in accordance with grand plan for the Beaux Arts inspired buildings to serve the needs of the legislative and judicial arms of government.
In 1791, George Washington and L'Enfant settled on the location of the "President's Palace," on a high ridge with views extending down to the Potomac. It provided an answering vista to the Capitol at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a great diagonal avenue linking the two buildings. To the south, the Washington Monument is located off-axis, and to the north is Sixteenth Street beginning at the edge of Lafayette Square. The White House grounds to the south, the ellipse, contains major sculptural memorials from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. L'Enfant designed 16th St to have the same width as the large diagonal avenues and Lafayette Square in front of the North façade of the terminates the 16th Street axis. The design of Lafayette Park was not in place until 1824, and the present landscape plan dates from the 1930s.
Between 1798 and 1800 two executive office buildings, the Treasury Department and the War Office, were constructed adjacent to White House. The new Treasury building was begun in 1836, and work continued for three decades. The placement of the Treasury building on this site effectively blocks the vista between the Capitol and the White House. The present Old Executive Office Building that was formerly the State, War, and Navy Building was built between 1871 and 1888.
Jefferson's original conception of the capital was to provide a "public walk" in the center of the city which linked the Capitol Building and the White House. L'Enfant had provided for an avenue lined with great residences, but his plan was forgotten in the intervening years. Andrew Jackson Downing provided for a curvilinear plan in 1851. And the Mall we see today is the result of the McMillan Plan lined with museums and the Department of Agriculture.
The Old Patent Office (7th, 9th, F and G Streets, NW) which now houses two Smithsonian Museums, the National Museum of American Art and the National Portrait Gallery was built between 1836 and 1857(Open to the public, but soon to be closed for major renovations). This site is outside the monumental core, and sits on the same high ridge as does the White House and had been noted on L'Enfant's plan as a place for a nondenominational church dedicated to America's heroes. The Patent Office was perceived as a fitting substitute, and the Smithsonian Museums have carried on that tradition. The United States Tariff Commission Building (United States General Post Office) at 8th and F Streets, is another grand public building in this same area and plans are currently underway to redevelop the property.
Off the monumental core, but adjacent to the grounds of the Capitol is the Old City Post Office at Massachusetts Avenue and North Capitol Street, NE. This building was designed by Daniel Burnham in the City Beautiful tradition in 1914 and contains a Post Office Museum that is open to the public. Also in the tradition of the City Beautiful is Union Station at Massachusetts and Delaware Sts NE also designed by Daniel Burnham in 1903-8. Open to the public, it serves not only as a railroad station, but also contains a multitude of the shops, cinema, and restaurants in one of the most effective adaptive use projects in the city.
The Federal Triangle is located on a triangular site bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue, Constitution Avenue, and 15th Street. Ten structures designed by different architects are located on the site. Two of the structures, the Old Post Office and the District Building, were constructed between 1899-1908. The rest were constructed between 1926 and the 1930s except for the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center which was designed and constructed in the 1990s. The planning for the Federal Triangle was one of the last City Beautiful efforts on such a monumental scale in the nation. The triangle achieves a harmony of scale and proportion through the use of similar materials and an elaborate landscape plan.
From the time of the McMillan Commission Plan the area to the west of the ellipse was planned for monumental buildings which would enframe the newly extended Mall. By the 1930s, the growing expansion of the Federal government led to the conception of a formal plan for a monumental complex of Federal buildings to balance the Federal Triangle on the east side of the ellipse.
This new area was called the "Northwest Rectangle" and soon saw a large complement of Federal buildings such as the Public Health Service (1931-33), the New Interior Department (1936) and the Federal Reserve (1937). The grand plan for the Northwest Rectangle was never completed. Later government buildings in the area, the Department of State (1957-60), the Civil Service Commission (1960s) and the Federal Reserve Annex (1970s) reflect modernist rather than classical design. After World War II, there was much more decentralization of Federal agencies, many of which are now located in the regional areas of Maryland and Virginia.
It was after the Civil War that Washington experienced the rapid growth that would continue for the rest of the century. Washington was inundated with freed blacks, army widows, retiring veterans and government workers forcing an expansion beyond the boundaries of the L'Enfant Plan. Instrumental in shaping the city and its expansion was Alexander Sheperd, who as a friend of President Grant's, became the head of the Board of Public Works in 1870. "Boss Sheperd" became the official governor of the territory in 1873, and began an extensive system of public works which would fill in the Tiber Canal, pave at least one-third of the streets, and create a modem sewer system and the construction of over 1000 buildings. These excessive expenditures, however, caused congress to abolish the territorial government.
In 1878, the Organic Act stripped the District of all self-government and put the District in the control of a Senate committee. Real estate speculation in undeveloped areas became rampant, and several of the biggest investors were Senators Francis Newlands, John Sherman, and William Morrie Stewart. In addition, the invention of the electricpowered streetcar made the development of Washington beyond Boundary Street possible. This led to the location of neighborhoods at higher elevations, which were perceived to be cooler and have cleaner air.
There are three geographic areas that define the suburban development of the city. The suburbs in Anacostia, southeast and northeast were created for lower income White and African American working classes. The northwest area east of Rock Creek Park was largely settled by middle-income and government workers The northwest area west of Rock Creek Park which was settled, in part, by upper-income Whites.
In southeast, Uniontown, one of Washington's first suburbs, was created for Navy Yard workers. Berry Farms and Congress Heights, south of Uniontown (now part of the Anacostia Historic District) were similarly settled. Most African Americans settled into the NE and SE quadrants of the city as housing costs rose and some areas became segregated.
The Northwest Sector of Washington east of the Rock Creek gorge, developed faster than the NE and Anacostia sections. Development in this area started in the 1870's and appealed to the burgeoning middle-class population. LeDroit Park, planned along 7th Street just north of Boundary, developed its own street system and names. Mt. Pleasant was first subdivided in 1865. The irregular street system, a grid of different block sizes, picked up the extended 13th and 14th Streets of the L'Enfant City. Columbia Heights, along 14" Street south of Mt Pleasant was platted and developed in the 1880s as the terminus of the new electric street car line running north-south on 14th St. In 1886, east of the Soldier's Home, 134 acres were subdivided as Brookland, and serviced by the B & O railroad. These neighborhoods are characterized by the ubiquitous row house, constructed of brick and usually three or four stories high. Further north along the B&O railroad line and at the Maryland border is Takoma Park, one of the first commuter suburbs utilizing the train. Here single family houses graced the yards in a more traditional suburban setting.
The development of the West Side of Rock Creek Park was driven by the formation of powerful real-estate syndicates which were in place by the 1880s. Prestigious and moneyed families were living in the Massachusetts Avenue and Dupont Circle Districts. The Joel Barlow Kalorama estate just west of Dupont Circle was developed in the 1880s. Development beyond Rock Creek Gorge was possible only after the gorge was bridged in 1886 at Klingle Road and at Calvert Street in 1891. Woodley Park developed rapidly in the 1880s after the construction of the bridges as well as the streetcar lines.
One of the best examples of suburban growth being spurred by street railway companies is the Rock Creek Railway, an integral part of the Chevy Chase Land Company's plan for development along Connecticut Avenue. The Rock Creek Railway Company had originally been chartered in 1888, but not constructed, until after the formation of the Chevy Chase Land Company. The Chevy Chase Land Company was founded in 1890 b Nevada Senators Francis Newlands and William M. Steward, together with Colonel George A. Ames. Having been involved previously in the development of the Dupont Circle area, Newlands began to purchase undeveloped land north of Rock Creek in the late 1880s. The Company's 1700 acres flanked the corridor now known as Connecticut Avenue extending into Chevy Chase, Maryland. Newlands constructed trestle bridges at Calvert and Klingle streets and extended Connecticut Avenue directly through his 1700 acre property into Maryland. Another street railway line was the Georgetown and Tenallytown Railway Company, chartered in 1888. In 1890, the railway began operating connecting Georgetown to the extant village of Tenallytown. The line traveled the length of what is now Wisconsin Avenue, stretching from the Potomac River to the Maryland State line. Cleveland Park was served by both street rail lines.
In 1888, Congress passed the Highway Act which forbid "any plat or subdivision that did not conform with the general plan for the city." The streets and avenues of the city were to be continued and exactly aligned with the existing roads, and new circles and squares were to be created at major intersections. There followed the Highway Acts of 1893 and 1898 to legislate conformance with the street patterns and platting.
The automobile led to an even greater growth especially in the northwest quadrant. Spring Valley, Wesley Heights, and American University Park were developed in the 1920s and largely constructed by the WC and AN Miller Company.
In the southwest quadrant, the urban renewal pressures of the 1950s and 1960s led to wholesale demolition of the existing fabric of the area and the construction of new housing.
Takoma Park was founded and developed as a suburb by Benjamin F. Gilbert in 1883. Takoma Park was the first commuter suburb in the area and was originally located on approximately 100 acres of land around the B & O Railroad tracks. Gilbert, in planning his suburb, ignored jurisdictional lines, and the original town of Takoma Park thus is located in the District of Columbia, Prince George's and Montgomery County, Maryland. (Part of Takoma Park, Maryland, has been designated a historic district and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places).
When Gilbert selected this site, few roads extended north from Washington city, and during the first few years of its existence, Takoma Park depended almost entirely on the steam railroad for the movement of goods and people. Takoma Park was advertised as being located high above the swampy, malaria-ridden Washington City, and possessing such amenities as fresh spring water and beautiful cottages and villas surrounded by spacious, landscaped lawns. The residences of Takoma Park were within walking distance of the train station.
The styles of architecture which highlight the development of this community can be described generally as follows: (1) the earliest houses were primarily combinations of Shingle and Stick styles and Pattern Book or Victorian cottages or variations of Queen Anne cottages. These houses are mainly of frame and shingle construction with asymmetrical massing and flowing roofs and exhibit a variety of design detail in the treatment of porch piers and balustrades, cornice detailing and trim. Some examples are: 7130 Chestnut Street, 600, 535, 517 and 208 Cedar Street; (2) the turn-of-the-century Transitional house, frequently with Colonial Revival details was popular during this period. The facades are frequently symmetrically ordered with Colonial Revival details such as Doric or Ionic piers and period window detail. Some examples can be found at 516 Cedar Street and 521 Butternut Street; (3) the bungalow, a style derivative of 19th-century British Colonial architecture in India, was a popular style and is characterized by a low house with veranda and broad overhanging gables. Some examples of bungalow variations can be found at 7106 Piney Branch Road, 202 Cedar Street, and 410 Aspen Street.
Takoma Park is roughly bounded by Aspen St., NW, on the south; Piney Branch Rd., NW, and 7th St., NW, on the west; and Eastern Ave., NW, on the northeast. The buildings described are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Takoma.
The Rock Creek Park Historic District encompasses public reservation 339 created for the scenic and recreational enjoyment of the people of the United States on September 27, 1890. Rock Creek Park is a natural reserve within a heavily urbanized area and in this respect it is unusual. Unlike other great American parks designed in the 19th century such at Central Park in New York (1856), golden Gate Park in San Francisco (1870), or the Boston Metropolitan Park System (1878-1895), Rock Creek Park was created by the forces of nature.
The origins of the park go back to 1866 when a Senate committee suggested finding a tract of land for the presidential mansion which had healthfulness and good water, access and capability of adornment. Maj. Nathaniel Michler was appointed to prepare a report for possible sites. Although the President's mansion was not moved to a new site, Michler's proposal for a park took root. By the 1880s local banker Charles C. Glover promoted the park to members of Congress, and in 1890 it was established as a park. The boundaries were defined in 1891 and followed the topography. It is a narrow creek bed in its lower third near the Maryland border and contains broad meadows and woods near the site of the National Zoo. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., the landscape architect for the McMillan Commission was a strong advocate for preserving the natural scenic beauty of the park.The National Capital Planning Commission designed the roadways for the park in the 1920s and 1930s. Automobile access was limited to certain areas and pleasure driving became one of the park's amenities.
The National Zoological Park, (NR) an important work of Frederick Law Olmsted, was designed in 1892 and is a major component of Rock Creek Valley. Linnean Hill or the Pierce-Klingle Mansion (NR) is located in the park at 3545 Williamsburg Lane. This large stone farmhouse was originally constructed by Issac Pierce in 1823 with later additions. The house now serves as the headquarters for the superintendent of Rock Creek Park. Pierce Mill (NR) at Beach Drive and Tilden was originally built in 1820 and first restored by the NPS in 1934-36. The Friends of Pierce Mill are now raising funds to again restore it to a working mill. Nearby are located Pierce Springhouse and Barn (NR) in the 2400 block of Tilden Street which were built in 1829 and restored in 1934-36.
The core of the Rock Creek Park Historic District is the creek and the picturesque gorge like scenery. Particularly impressive is a one-mile stretch of rapids and a rocky stream bed immediately south of Military Road. In contrast to the bold and picturesque valley core, Rock Creek Park also has gentle slopping hills and grassy meadows.
The Park is located along Rock Creek and tributaries from
the National Zoo to the DC boundary. Rock Creek Parkway is a public
parkway accessible to the public during all hours of the day.
Metro stop: Woodley Park-Zoo.
Peirce Mill is significant as the last existing mill in the District of Columbia and the only 19th-century gristmill maintained by the National Park Service that operates on a full-time basis. It stands as a unique symbol of the milling industry which flourished along Rock Creek. The mill's owner, Issac Pierce, left his Quaker parents in Pennsylvania to seek his fortune in Maryland. After Maryland ceded 10 square miles to form the new Federal city, Pierce bought 150 acres along Rock Creek. By 1880 Pierce owned 1,200-2,000 acres of the land along Rock Creek, extending from Chevy Chase to the present National Zoological Park. Pierce built the present mill either in 1820 or 1829. He died in 1841 leaving his estate, including the mill, to his fourth child, Abner Cloud Peirce who continued to operate the mill.
Between 1934 and 1936 Pierce Mill was restored as a Pubic Works Administration (PWA) project. The mill was again placed in operation on December 1, 1936, and ground corn meal and flour for use by government cafeterias. It was closed again in 1958 because of the lack of trained millwrights and a decrease in the water volume in the millrace. Since then, it has been maintained solely as a historic site. Visitors to Pierce Mill today can see old wooden gears and massive stones. A living museum, the mill represents part of the 1820s economy of America, an era when men tapped power from wind and water.
Pierce Mill is located at 2375 Tilden St., NW. It is open Wedneday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Metro stop: Friendship Heights.
Cleveland Park is unusual because of its concentration of architect-designed late Victorian frame houses reminiscent of New England summer homes. Also unusual is the fact that the suburban development that began in 1894 was superimposed upon land previously occupied by estates, extant examples of which remain. Cleveland Park maintained its rural ambiance throughout the period of its development to the 1940s. All of the streets between the avenues in Cleveland Park retain the suburban flavor of the initial development with a preponderance of single-family dwellings set in generous natural surroundings. President Grover Cleveland summered in Cleveland Park at Red Top (Oak Hill) which was demolished in 1927.
The oldest house in Cleveland Park is Rosedale (Forrest Home) located at 3501 Newark Street. This asymmetrical, frame farmhouse with chimneys at both ends was built in 1794 by Uriah Forrestre, recalling the 17th-century colonial frame buildings of the southern states. Even older are stone buildings that now form the wings of the house, probably built c. 1740. Twin Oaks, located at 3225 Woodley Road, is the only remaining example of a house designed to be a summer home located in the historic district. It is an early example of a Colonial Revival house and was designed in 1888 by Francis Richmond Allen on a 17-acre estate which was originally part of a 50-acre tract. Twenty acres of this tract were sold in 1911. Tregaron (The Causeway) is located on that remaining 20 acres of the above tract at 3029 Klingle Road. This brick Neo-classical mansion stands on a crest of a hill and was designed in 1912 by Charles Adams Platt. In 1940, the estate was sold to Marjorie Merriweather Post and her husband Joseph Davies, who built a Russian Style Dacha on the grounds. The Homestead (La Quinta) is located at 2700 Macomb Street and was the last country house built in Cleveland Park. It was designed in 1914 by Frederick B. Pyle and in 1930 was enlarged into a Georgian mansion. In 1945, the newly independent Indian government purchased the house as a residence for the Indian Ambassador.
Most of the single family dwellings in the streetcar suburb were built between 1894 and 1930. During the first construction phase (1894 to 1901), the houses were individually designed by local architects and builders who employed a great variety of styles representing the eclecticism of the day. Robert Thompson Head, the most prolific architect for the Cleveland Park Company, was influenced by Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, Japanese, and Prairie styles. Waddy Wood introduced the first Shingle and Mission Revival homes in the neighborhood. During this period all of the houses were constructed of wood and employed a proliferation of decorative details which include turrets, towers, oriel and bay windows, steep gables with half timbering, tall pilastered chimneys, Palladian windows, Georgian porches, Richardsonian arches, decorative brackets and Adamesque swags. The houses with their varied verandas were situated on generous lots and set well back from the street.
During the second phase of construction there was an increasing simplification of house design. The houses continued to be primarily constructed of wood but some were covered with pebble dash, and the first brick houses were built in 1904-5. The Foursquare house with evident Prairie style influence was popular. The front porch continued to be a standard feature.
There are a number of significant apartment houses in the district as well as commercial structures. Some outstanding examples are noted below. The Broadmoor located at 3601 Connecticut Avenue was designed by Joseph Abel in 1928 and is representative the eclecticism of that period. Tilden Gardens is located at 3900 Connecticut Avenue and was built in 1927-30 by architects Parks and Baxter and Harry Edwards. Sedgewick Gardens at 3726 Connecticut Avenue designed by Mihran Mesrobian in 1931 is a significant Art Deco building.
The low-rise commercial area along Connecticut Avenue also has significant buildings. The firehouse at 3522 Connecticut Avenue, designed in 1916 by Snowden Ashford, is the oldest commercial building. Arthur Heaton's nationally acclaimed 1930 design for the Park and Shop, an early automobile-oriented neighborhood shopping center located at 3507-23 Connecticut Avenue, is a domestically scaled Colonial Revival style example of this influential building type. The Uptown Theater designed by John J. Zinc in 1939 at 3426 Connecticut is a significant Art Deco building, and one of the last large period movie houses in the city.
Several residences constructed since 1941 are outstanding examples of the work of nationally significant architects. I.M.Pei designed a house at 3411 Ordway Street in 1962. Washington architect, Winthrop Faulkner, designed a series of homes on Ordway and 35th Streets in 1963, 1968 and 1978 for his family illustrating his architectural styles. Waldron Faulkner, his father, designed 3415 36th Street for himself with Art Deco and Greek decorative motifs. The Cleveland Park Historic District is a site that has major interrelated historic, architectural, and cultural significance. The particular qualities that make it significant arise from its unique character as a livable intown community (almost like a village) of single-family houses, apartment buildings and small businesses. It continues to be home to many prominent Washingtonians.
Cleveland Parks is roughly bounded by Klingle and Woodley Rds., NW, on the south; Wisconsin Ave., NW, on the west; Rodman and Tilden Sts., NW, on the north; and the rear of properties along Connecticut Ave., NW, on the east. The buildings described are private and are not open to the public. Metro stop: Cleveland Park.
The National Cathedral, completed in 1990, is the culmination of a two-century-long plan for a majestic Gothic style cathedral. This richly decorated cathedral is located on a landscaped 57 acre plot of land on Mount Saint Albans in Northwest Washington, 400 feet above sea level. The cathedral consists of a long narrow rectangular mass, the eight bay nave and the five bay chancel, intersected by a six bay transept. Above the crossing, rising just over 300 feet above grade, is the Gloria in Excelsis Tower. The Cathedral is the sixth largest in the world, second largest in the United States. The top of the tower is the highest point in DC. The one story porch projecting from the south transept has a large portal with a carved tympanum. This portal is approached by the Pilgrim Steps, a long flight of steps 40 feet wide. The primary building material is gray Indiana limestone; some concrete and structural steel are used sparingly. The building abounds in architectural sculpture, wood carving, leaded glass, mosaics, artistic metal work, and many other works of art, including over 200 stained glass windows. Most of the decorative elements have Christian symbolism or are memorials to famous persons or events.
On January 4, 1792, descriptions from President Washington's disclosed plan for the "City of Washington, in the district of Columbia" were published in The Gazette of the United States, Philadelphia. Lot "D" was set aside and designated for "A church intended for national purposes, ..., assigned to the special use of no particular sect or denomination, but equally open to all." The National Portrait Gallery now occupies that site. A century later in 1891, a meeting was held to renew plans for the cathedral. In 1893 the Protestant Episcopal Cathedral Foundation of the District of Columbia was granted a charter from Congress to establish the cathedral and the site on Mount Saint Albans was chosen. Bishop Satterlee chose Frederick Bodley, England's leading Anglican church architect, as the head architect. Henry Vaughan was selected to be the supervising architect. The building of the cathedral finally started in 1907 with a ceremonial address by President Theodore Roosevelt. When construction of the cathedral resumed after a brief hiatus for World War I, both Bodley and Vaughan had passed away; American architect Philip Hubert Frohman took over the design of the cathedral and is known as the principal architect. The Cathedral has been the location of many significant events, including the funeral services of Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower. Its pulpit was the last one from which Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke prior to his assassination. The Cathedral is the burial place of many notable people, including Woodrow Wilson, Helen Keller, Admiral George Dewey, Bishop Satterlee and the architects Henry Vaughan and Philip Frohman.
The Cathedral is located at the corner of Wisconsin and Massachusetts
Aves. It is open to the public daily from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.
Gardens are open daily until dusk. Good Shepherd Chapel is open
for private prayer 6:00 am to 10:00 pm daily. Metro stop: Tenleytown/AU.
The C&O Company was chartered in 1825 to construct a shipping canal connecting tidewater on the Potomac River in DC with the headwaters of the Ohio River in western Pennsylvania, thereby providing an economical trade route between the eastern seaboard and the trans-Allegheny West. The company acquired the rights of the Potomac Company, formed by George Washington and associates to improve navigation on the Potomac. That venture had attempted to achieve its objective by deepening the channel and cutting skirting canals around impassible rapids, but the flow of the river proved too erratic to make these measures successful. This experience led C&O promoters to adopt plans for a separate canal paralleling the river. President John Quincy Adams turned the first spadeful of earth in ceremonies at Little Falls, Maryland, on July 4, 1828. On the same day, construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad westward from Baltimore was begun-a move that would have significant implications for the ultimate fate of the canal and the canal era generally.
From the start, numerous difficulties retarded the progress of the canal construction. An acute labor shortage forced the company to campaign for workers from other states. Numerous disputes arose with landowners that resisted efforts to purchase the right-of-way. Between 1842 and 1847, construction was at a standstill. The canal was finally completed to Cumberland, Maryland, in 1850, bringing the total cost of the project to over $11 million.
During the years following the Civil War, the coal trade increased rapidly until in 1871, the peak year, some 850,000 tons were carried down the canal. During these few profitable years more than 500 boats were in frequent operation on the canal. In the late 1870s the canal trade began to decline as many of the Allegheny coal operators began to ship over the B&O Railroad, the canal's greatest competitor. This development, together with the effects of the nationwide economic depression in the mid-1870s and major floods in 1877 and 1886, again put a severe strain on the finances. In 1889 an enormous flood forced the canal company into receivership, and the B&O Railroad emerged as the majority owner of the company's bonds. In 1924, by which time the railroad had captured almost all of the carrying trade, another damaging flood struck. This time the repairs necessary to resume operation were not made, and the active era of the canal came to an end.
In 1938 the railroad, hurt by the Depression, sold the entire canal to the United States government, and the canal was placed under the National Park Service. In 1961, President Eisenhower proclaimed it a national monument. An act of Congress in 1971 authorized the acquisition of additional land and establishment of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.
The canal survives as an excellent illustration of 19th-century canal-building technology. The magnitude of the engineering achievement is exemplified by the length of the canal, its 74 lift locks to accommodate a rise of 605 feet, the 11 stone aqueducts spanning the major Potomac tributaries, 7 dams supplying water to the canal, hundreds of culverts carrying roads and streams beneath the canal, and a 3,117-foot tunnel carrying the canal through a large shale rock formation.
The C&O Canal runs along the Potomac River west from Rock Creek The Chesapeake and Ohio National Historical Park is located along the C&O Canal from Rock Creek Park to the DC boundary and extends into Maryland. The park is open during all daylight hours. Some of the park's five visitor centers operate on a seasonal schedule.
The Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.
The National Zoological Park was planned by F.L. Olmstead & Co., one of the most influential and prolific American landscape architectural firms in history, and its location in the spacious and picturesque Rock Creek Valley marked an important departure from the 19th-century practice of confining zoological collections to limited areas. In addition to its important place in the history of landscape design, major scientific investigations, such as S.P. Langley's experiments in aerodynamics, are also a significant part of the Zoo's history. The National Zoo preceded the founding of the New York Zoological Park and Munich's Hellabrun Zoo, and thus may have been the first major zoo to be located in a spacious, landscaped setting. The Zoological Park's primary aim was not for the entertainment of people, but for the preservation of endangered animals indigenous to the United States. The Zoo was created at a time when American's were concerned about "the closing of the frontier" and the dominance of a new, urban, industrialized society, and the Zoo's animals were reminders to visitors of the disappearing American Wilderness. In addition to conventional animal houses, extensive pastures for grazing were planned along with natural rock quarries to contain bears, a scheme that was unsuccessful. Only two of the original buildings exist today, the Principal Animal House, now the lion house, and the New Mammal House, the present monkey house.
The Zoo borders Rock Creek Park with entrances at 3001 Connecticut
Ave., on Harvard St. and on Beach Dr. It is open daily from 8:00
am to 8:00 pm between April 15th and October 15th. The rest of
the year it is open daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. It is closed
on December 25th. Admission is free. For more information call
or visit the zoo's website. Metro stop: Woodley Park/Zoo.
The unique architectural character of Old Woodley Park is formed by strings of handsome, 20th-century rowhouses and townhouses constructed by a variety of notable local builders and architects. The actual building construction that eluded this area for so long was begun and largely completed in only 25 years (1905-1929), and resulted in a cohesive urban neighborhood consisting primarily of attached houses and the services which attended (and continue to attend) them.
Connecticut Avenue is now the major thoroughfare dividing Woodley Park. Extended in 1890, it has become a major access road to upper northwest Washington. Today, the length of Connecticut Avenue is lined primarily by tall structures, mainly apartment buildings and office buildings, punctuated by groups of smaller commercial buildings. In Woodley Park, however, sufficient numbers of single-family residences stand along Connecticut Avenue to remind the passerby that it once was conceived to be an elegant residential boulevard.
Old Woodley Park Historic District is roughly bounded by
24th and 29th Sts., NW, to the west; Cathedral Ave., NW, to the
north; Rock Creek Park to the east; and Calvert and Woodley Rds.,
NW, to the south. The buildings described are private and not
open to the public. Metro stop: Woodley Park-Zoo.
Georgetown was formally established in 1751 when the Maryland Assembly authorized a town on the Potomac River on 60 acres of land belonging to George Beall and George Gordon. George Town was named in honor of King George II and soon flourished as a shipping center. Tobacco was the lifeblood of the community, and Georgetown soon prospered as a shipping center with a profitable European and West Indian trade. Commerce and industry developed along the waterfront, where wharves and flourmills were constructed. During the Revolution, Georgetown served as a great depot for the collection and shipment of military supplies. When the town was finally incorporated in 1789, a textile mill, paper factory and more flourmills were established. Georgetown's character was profoundly affected by the establishment of the nation's capital to the east in 1791. Although it was included in the new Federal District, it retained its own character.
Georgetown rapidly gained a reputation as the fashionable quarter of the capital and drew eminent visitors from this country and others. Congress incorporated Georgetown as part of Washington City in 1871. After the Civil War, large numbers of freed slaves migrated to Georgetown. The African American community flourished, becoming increasingly self-reliant. In the 1880s the waterfront prospered. But in the 1890s the C & O Canal was severely damaged by a Potomac River flood, and the Canal Company was bankrupted. The area went into an economic decline and in the period after World War I, Georgetown gained a reputation as one of Washington's worst slums; its homes were neglected and the area deteriorated badly. This trend began to reverse itself in the 1930s with the New Deal and reached a high point when Senator John F. Kennedy resided in the neighborhood in the 1950s.
Although there are some pre-Revolutionary buildings in the district, most of the housing stock dates from the period after 1800. The Old Stone House NR at 3051 M Street is the oldest intact house. It was built in 1765 for Christopher Lehman. It is owned by the National Park Service and is open to the public. Most of Georgetown is occupied by residential areas whose regular streets and rowhouses set the tone for the entire neighborhood. A variety of styles illustrate the national trend of architectural development from Georgian mansions and town houses through early Federal and Classical Revival houses to the ornate structures of the ante and post-bellum periods. The majority of the building stock was constructed after 1870 and is characterized by rowhouse construction popular in the late Victorian era. The commercial corridors of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street as well as the waterfront areas are characterized by development from every era. The City Tavern NR at 3206 M Street was built in 1796.
The Forrest-Marbury House NR at 3350 M Street is a large Federal townhouse built by Col. Uriah Forrest c. 1788-90. Here Forrest hosted the dinner closing the deal for the purchase of the land for the Federal City. The Thomas Sim Lee Corner at 3001-3009 M Street, 1789-1810, consists of early Federal shops with dwellings above. The Dodge Warehouses at 1000-1008 Wisconsin Avenue and 3205 K Street are Federal-era warehouses on the waterfront and date from 1813-1824.
In the Federal period, brick replaced stone in construction of both residential and commercial buildings. The mansions of wealthy shipowners, merchants and land speculators were built above the harbor on Prospect and N Streets. Hotels, taverns, banks and other commercial buildings were constructed along M Street and in the waterfront area. Speculative housing appeared, including the notable Federal row at 3337-3339 N Street built c.1815 by John Cox and the row at 3255-3267 N Street built c.1812 by Walter and Clement Smith. St. John's Church at 3420 O Street designed by William Thorton was completed in 1809.
On the heights above the town, the squares remained intact and undivided. Bellevue NR was renamed Dumbarton House when it was acquired by the Colonial Dames of America. It was built c.1800 and located at 2715 Q Street. Evermay NR 1623 28th Street was built by Samuel Davidson c.1801. William Hammond Dorsey built the house at 3101 R Street now known as Dumbarton Oaks c.1801. The house and gardens are open to the public at special hours. Tudor Place NR at 1644 31st Street built between 1805-1816, was designed by William Thorton, original architect of the US Capitol. It is maintained as a house museum and is open to the public by appointment.
In 1848, Oak Hill Cemetery was laid out by George de la Roche in the fashionable picturesque manner. The Chapel and probably the gates were designed by James Renwick in 1850. The Van Ness Mausoleum NR was built in 1833 by George Hadfield and moved to the cemetery in 1872. The Mount Zion Cemetery (Female Union Band Society) NR is located at 27th and O Streets. The graveyard was established in 1842 by the Female Union Band Society, a benevolent association which provided burial for free blacks. The Mount Zion United Methodist Church NR at 1334 29th Street is the home of one of the oldest African American congregations in the city.
The Custom House and Post Office NR was built in 1857-8 at 1221 31st Street to handle increased shipping from the canal. It was designed by Ammi B. Young. The Georgetown Market NR at 3276 M Street is a public market on a site used as a market since 1795. The present market was built in 1865. It still serves as a food store and is open to the public. The Vigilant Fire House NR is the city's oldest extant firehouse and was built for the Vigilant Fire Company established in 1817 and in operation till 1883. The present building was built in 1844. There are approximately 58 houses listed in the DC Inventory as individual Georgetown landmarks that are of Federal City/Pre-Civil War importance. Listed below are the names of those that are also listed in the National Register: the Walker House at 2806 N St.; the Haw House at 2808 N St.; Beall House at 3017 N St.; Halcyon House at 3400 Prospect St; Quality Hill at 3425 Prospect St; Prospect House at 3508 Prospect St.
After the Civil War, the brick rowhouse made its appearance in Georgetown. The brick rowhouses of the 1870s and 1880s exhibited elaborate bracketed cornices and then corbelled cornices in the 1880s and 1890s. It is the Queen Anne rowhouse that found the greatest favor with Washington builders and was also used frequently in commercial architecture. Residential architecture of the 1890s took the form of a rowhouse in a minimalist late Victorian, late Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival styles and various combinations. Overall, Georgetown's population continued to climb, as reflected in its construction of public schools. The Phillips School built in 1890 at 27th and N Streets was one of several schools constructed to serve the African American community.
The Volta Laboratory and Bureau (Alexander Bell Laboratory) at 3414 Volta Place was a brick carriage house adapted by Alexander Graham Bell in 1885 and used until 1922 as his laboratory. The Volta Bureau NHL, built in 1893 by Peabody and Sterns, is at 3417 Volta Place.
Several examples of Renaissance Revival and Colonial Revival can be found from the early decades of the 20th century in Georgetown commercial architecture. Rowhouse development continued to flourish with the Colonial Revival a popular form. Although the waterfront remained primarily commercial, the Potomac Boat Club at 3530 K Street and built in 1870 and is a charming example of the Shingle Style. The Washington Canoe Club NR built in 1890 also afforded recreational uses.
The Georgetown Historic District is roughly bounded by Reservoir
Rd., NW, and Dumbarton Oaks Park on the north; Rock Creek Park
on the east; the Potomac River on the south; and Glover-Archbold
Parkway on the west. Unless otherwise noted, the buildings described
above are private and not open to the public. Metro Stop: Foggy
The Oak Hill Cemetery Chapel is the only known example of James Renwick's Gothic Revival ecclesiastical design in Washington, DC. The one story rectangular chapel, measuring 23 by 41 feet, was built in 1850 and sits on the highest ridge of the Oak Hill Cemetery. The beautifully proportioned chapel is considered an excellent example of Gothic Revival Architecture, as evidenced by its steeply pitched roof, buttresses, and its pointed arched windows with tracery . Renwick, one of the pre-eminent architects of the 19th century, designed both the Grace Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York and was the architect for the original Smithsonian Institution. The Oak Hill Cemetery was created by William W. Corcoran, also founder of the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, in 1848. The chapel is one of several landmarks in the cemetery, which also includes the Van Ness Mausoleum, designed by George Hadfield, and the monument to E.M. Stanton, President Lincoln's Secretary of War.
The Oak Hill Cemetery is located at 30th and R Sts., NW.
It is open weekdays only from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It is closed holidays and during funerals, and photography is not permitted. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom
The Mount Zion Cemetery is composed of two separate adjacent cemeteries, the old Methodist Burying Ground and the Female Union Band Society Graveyard. The two cemeteries equally share the three acres of land. There is no fence or other visible demarcation separating the two cemeteries which over time have become known as the Mount Zion Cemetery. The Mount Zion Cemetery is a physical reminder of African American life and the evolving free black culture in the District of Columbia from the earliest days of the city to the present.
The land for the Old Methodist Episcopal Burying Ground was purchased in 1808 by the Dumbarton Street Methodist Episcopal Church. The membership of the Dumbarton Street M.E. Church was fifty percent black, consisting of both free blacks and slaves. At the time, Georgetown was about thirty percent African American. In 1816 the black members of the Dumbarton Street M.E. Church formed the Mount Zion Methodist Church. Eventually the Mount Zion Methodist Church took over the cemetery in 1879. The Female Union Band Society was a cooperative benevolent society of free black women whose members were pledged to assist one another in sickness and in death. The society was created in 1842 and purchased the land for the burial ground that year. Mt. Zion Cemetery illustrates the significant contribution of African Americans to the development of Georgetown and the work of an early benevolent society organized by black women for their own benefit. The cemetery fell into neglect and disrepair until 1976 when volunteer workers under the direction of the Afro-American Bicentennial Corporation cleared away underbrush, trash, and ground cover.
The Mount Zion Cemetery is located at 27th and Q Sts, NW.
The cemetery is open daily during daylight hours, to arrange for a tour contact Mt. Zion Church at 202-234-0148. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom.
Montrose Parks occupies land that belonged to ropemaking magnate Robert Parrott during the early 19th century. Parrott generously allowed Georgetown residents to use his tract of land for picnics and meetings. The area became known as Parrott's Woods and by the early 20th century it had fallen into disrepair. Sarah Louisa Rittenhouse spearheaded a group of women who petitioned Congress to buy the acreage and establish Montrose Park "for the recreation and pleasure of the people."
Adjacent to Montrose Park is Dumbarton Park, a wilderness area of 27 acres that was established by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Woods Bliss who purchased Dumbarton Oaks House in 1920. Mr. and Mrs. Bliss hired Beatrix Ferrand to create the masterful 10 acre formal gardens around the house. The Blisses gave a majority of Dumbarton Oaks to Harvard University in 1940.
Montrose and Dumbarton Parks are public parks accessible to the public. Dumbarton Oaks is located at 1703 32nd St., N.W. From March 15 through October, the gardens are open daily, except Mondays, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm; November-March 14: 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. They are closed during inclement weather, national holidays, and Christmas eve. The museum and shop are open daily (except Monday and federal holidays) from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.
A previous owner of the property had begun improvments by building what are now the house's wings. Thornton then provided the central structure and the joining elements to the wings, combining them with buff-colored stucco over brick. The "temple" porch and supporting columns provide a most striking addition to the front. The gardens and the historic house museum's collections are as rich and interesting as the home itself. A focal point is the collection of over 100 objects that belonged to George and Martha Washington. Over the years, both the home and gardens have been enriched by 180 years of Peter family ownership. Tudor Place gives a rare glimpse into American cultural and social history.
Dumbarton House is a significant example of early Federal period architecture that features 18th- and 19th-century furniture and decorative arts (paintings, textiles, silver, and ceramics), made and used during the Republic's formative years. Constructed around 1800 in an Adamesque Federal style, the home’s design is a distinct departure from the earlier traditional Georgian Style. The building is associated with the early history of Georgetown and with several prominent public figures.
The house is located on part of a 795-acre tract in Georgetown once own by Colonel Ninian Beall, a member of the Maryland House of Burgesses and Commander-in-Chief of Maryland’s Provincial Forces from 1625 to 1717. Beall was one of the first settlers in the Georgetown area; he patented the tract as “The Rock of Dumbarton” in honor of the land of his birth in Scotland. The part of the land on which the mansion now stands remained in the Beall family until 1796, when the four and ½-acre lot on which Dumbarton House was eventually erected was sold.
The Federal Government and its many civil servants moved to Washington in 1800, and the family of Joseph Nourse, the First Register of the United States Treasury, lived in the home from 1804-1814. Tradition has it that the next resident, Charles Carroll, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, sheltered the “President’s Lady,” Dolley Madison, in August 1814, when she was fleeing from the burning White House and invading British troops.
The National Society of Colonial Dames of America, a patriotic nonprofit organization founded in 1891 to collect and preserve objects of significant historical interest and to educate citizens about them, purchased the house in 1928 in order to preserve the mansion and adapt it for the organization’s headquarters and as a house museum of early American architecture. The Colonial Dames renamed the property Dumbarton House after the original patent. In 1932, the organization embarked on an extensive restoration project to return the house to its original early Federal style. Two eminent professionals in the fields of architecture and landscape design, Fiske Kimball (1888-1955) and Horace Peaslee (1884-1959), directed the restoration of the property. Dumbarton House is still the headquarters of The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.
Dumbarton House is located at 2715 Q Street, NW in Historic Georgetown, Washington, DC. Available for private and corporate events, Dumbarton House provides an historic and intimate venue for elegant receptions, weddings, parties, teas and meetings for 150-200 guests. The house is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM (last museum entry is 2:45 PM). Self-guided tours are available year round. Guided tours are available by prior reservation by calling 202-337-2288.. The house is closed on Federal holidays, and Thanksgiving Weekend. The admission fee is $5 for adults; students are free. Closest Metro stop: Dupont Circle, Red Line; Metrobus routes to 27th & Q: D-2, D-4, D-6; two-hour street parking; limited on-site parking.
The first parcel of land that was to become Georgetown University was acquired in 1789 by a committee of five clergymen. On this 1 ½ acre the committee began to construct the first university building which was ready for occupancy in 1791. Referred to as "Old South," it was torn down at the turn of the 20th century. The first students enrolled in September, 1791 and by the end of the school year, the enrollment was 66 students. In 1793, an additional two acres was purchased to provide a site for what is now know as the Old North Building which was used as a dormitory and refectory for boarding students. In 1805 the Society of Jesus was reestablished in the United States and took over the administration of the college from the Corporation of the Clergy of Maryland. Georgetown University remains a Jesuit school today. By the early 19th century the College was firmly established as a leading Catholic educational institution, and in 1815 a congressional act raised the rank of Georgetown from a college to university
University is located at Prospect and 35th Sts., NW. The Georgetown
University Transportation Shuttle (GUTS) provides a free ride
to Georgetown University to and from Metrorail locations at Dupont
Circle (in the District) and Rosslyn (in Arlington, VA). Tours
of the campus can be scheduled by calling the Admissions Office
at 202/687-3600 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
The Volta Laboratory and Bureau building, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed in 1893 under the direction of Alexander Graham Bell to serve as a center of information for deaf and hard of hearing persons. Bell, best known for receiving the first telephone patent in 1876, was also an outstanding figure of his generation in the education of the deaf. Both his grandfather and father were teachers of speech and young Bell worked with them. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Bell moved to Canada with his family in 1870 and a year later moved to Boston to teach at a special day school for deaf children. He became a renowned educator by opening a private normal class to train teachers of speech to the deaf and as a professor of vocal physiology and the mechanics of speech at Boston University. During this time he also invented the phonautograph, the multiple telegraph and the speaking telegraph or telephone.
In 1879, Bell and his wife Mabel Hubbard, who had been deaf from early childhood, moved to Washington, DC The following year, the French government awarded Bell the Volta Prize of 50,000 francs for the invention of the telephone. Bell used the money to found Volta Associates, along with his cousin Chichester A. Bell and Sumner Tainter, whose laboratory was focused on the research of recording and transmitting sound. In 1887, the Volta Associates sold the record patents they had developed at the laboratory to the American Gramophone Company, and Bell took part of his share of the profits to found the Volta Bureau as an instrument "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the Deaf." The Bureau, which was first housed at Bell's father's house at 1527 35th Street, worked in close cooperation with the American Association for the Promotion of the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf (known since 1956 as the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf), organized in 1890, of which Bell was elected President. The Volta Bureau officially merged with this Association in 1908. The work of the Bureau increased to such a volume that in 1893 Bell constructed this neoclassic yellow brick and sandstone building to specifically house the institution. Bell constructed the building across the street from his father's house, the first headquarters of the Bureau.
The Volta Bureau is located at 1537 35th St., NW. There is
limited accessibility to the public. Call for appointments at
202/337-5220. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom.
The building that houses the Custom House and Post Office of Georgetown was designed by Ammi B. Young, the Supervising Architect of the Treasury from 1852 to 1862. The Custom House and Post Office is one of a number of buildings that Young designed for the Treasury Department. Georgetown was established as a port of entry to the United States by an act of Congress approved March 22, 1779. By 1856 the problem arose of where to build a permanent custom house for the District. Congress appropriated money to build a Custom House in Georgetown. Completed in 1858, the building housed a post office on its first floor and custom house and Georgetown city offices on its second floor. The basement was used for storage of goods awaiting inspection. In 1864 Senate Bill #210 was introduced, proposing the abolishment of Georgetown as the port of entry and making the official port Washington City. The mayor of Georgetown led a violent fight against the bill, charging that Congress was attempting to destroy his city. He convinced Congress, but when Georgetown was absorbed into the District of Columbia, the name of the port was officially changed to Washington. In 1967, the Custom House moved out of its second floor space. The post office still occupies the first floor.
The Custom House and Post Office is located at 1221 31st
St., NW. It is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Metro stop: Foggy Bottom.
The Old Stone House, located at 3501 M Street in Georgetown, was built in 1765, making it the oldest standing building in Washington, DC. The exterior of the house is constructed of locally quarried blue granite. The house was built by Christopher Layman, a cabinetmaker by trade, as both a residence and a shop. Layman died shortly after constructing the house. It was sold to Cassandra Chew who added a wing to the rear of the house in 1767. The street (then called Bridge Street) was a main thoroughfare for road traffic from the Western frontier and paralleled the canal into Georgetown. The house has been used throughout its history as a residence or residence/shop, until it was purchased in 1953 by the U.S. Government. Although there have been attempts to prove that the Old Stone House was either George Washington's Engineering Headquarters and/or Suters Tavern, neither theory has been substantiated. The house is a good surviving example of pre-Revolutionary American vernacular architecture.
The Old Stone
House, administered by the National Park Service and located
at 3501 M St., NW, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 am
to 4:00 pm. It is closed New Years Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving,
and Christmas. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom
The Georgetown Market, located at 3276 M Street, between East and West Market Streets in Georgetown, was built in 1865 on the site of an earlier 1795 market, which was the first public market in Washington, DC. The one-story brick market originally measured 40 feet with three bays across the front and 150 feet and nine bays along the sides. The M Street facade of this functional arcaded market house consists of a recessed round-arched door six feet wide and sixteen feet high, flanked on either side by a round-arched window. The basement of the market is probably part of the 1796 market, or it may have been constructed when the C & O canal was built in 1831. The foundation walls are four feet thick and rise 15 feet high, supporting the market floor.
The long history of the site shows the depth of Georgetown's commercial activity, from Revolutionary times to the present. Prior to the market in 1795, the site was occupied by a butcher's market, and subsequently replaced by a debtors prison. In 1795 a frame market house was constructed. Due to the growth of Georgetown at this time, the frame market was torn down a year later and replaced by an expanded and more permanent market house. Although the market was expanded several times from 1795 to the Civil War, the market had become run down. In 1865 the old market was razed and the current market was built. The market held butchers, fish mongers, dairy farmers, and sellers of produce. In 1966 Congress passed legislation directing the District of Columbia to preserve the market as a historic landmark, to operate and maintain it as a market, and to make a small portion of the market available to the National Park Service for the C & O Canal Museum.
The Georgetown Market is now occupied by Dean and Deluca
gourmet food store and is located at 3276 M St., NW, in Georgetown.
It is open Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and
Friday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. Metro stop: Foggy
Georgetown's commercial history began on the waterfront as a shipping center. Sprawled along the waterfront were warehouses and wharves, sailor's taverns, flour mills and a fleet of ships. Tobacco was the lifeblood of the new community, and in 1745, a "Rolling House" for the inspection and trade of the crop was called for by the Maryland legislature. Completed in 1747, the Rolling House stimulated the growth of the settlement. Licenses for taverns were issued and soon commerce and industry developed on the waterfront. The 1763 Treaty of Paris, ending the French and Indian War, opened up trade along the Ohio River Valley area on which Georgetown placed high hopes. Georgetown's taverns and the hotels provided fashionable lodging for the merchants who visited the thriving port.
During the American Revolution, Georgetown served as a depot for the collection and shipment of military supplies. When the town was incorporated in 1789, it continued to thrive as a textile mill, a paper factory and flour mills flourished on the waterfront. By an act of Congress, Georgetown was made the port of entry for imported goods for all the waters and shores from the Pomonky Creek north of the Potomac River, to the head of the navigable waters of the Potomac. Further stimulating the economy, the opening of the canal system of the Potomac Canal Company from 1785 to 1802 made Georgetown a terminal port at tidewater for much of the western trade.
Georgetown was profoundly affected by the establishment of the District of Columbia as the nation's capital. Although Georgetown was included in the new District, it retained its distinct character and became the center of Washington's social and diplomatic life in the early part of the 19th century. As the federal city developed, Georgetown's business and social affairs shifted from the waterfront to Bridge Street (now M Street), which became the principal avenue of approach to the new capital from the west. Many legislators and their families stayed in the Georgetown hotels and taverns, and did their shopping there as well.
The future seemed bright at the turn of the century, but Georgetown's financial growth proved to be temporary as its commercial importance declined with the advance of Alexandria, Baltimore and Philadelphia. The western and Potomac valley trade did not develop as expected because of the failure of the canal-and-lock system to function except during high water stages of the river. By 1819, the Potomac Canal Company was almost bankrupt. Although Congress, in 1825, granted a charter to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company to build a canal from the tidewater to the Cumberland, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad reached it first, and the western trade never materialized. When the poor prospects for commerce were realized, Georgetown encouraged industrial development to revitalize its economy. With the onslaught of immigration and industrialization, Georgetown had become urbanized. It was incorporated into Washington, DC, in 1871 in recognition of its development.
By the time World War I was over, Georgetown had gained a reputation as one of Washington's worst slums. This trend began to reverse itself in the 1930s, when New Deal politicians and government officials rediscovered its charm and convenience to Washington. Georgetown became once again the chic enclave for the affluent and political. Nowhere is the revitalization effort more evident than the lively commercial district on M Street and Wisconsin. Filled with shops, restaurants and other businesses, this area is the one of the major centers of activity in Washington, DC.
Georgetown's Commercial Buildings are located in the heart
of the Georgetown Historic District between M St. and the waterfront.
The Farmers and Mechanics Branch Riggs Bank is open during banking
hours. The Chesapeake and Ohio
Canal is open to the public during daylight hours. For more
information, please call 301/739-4200. The Old
Stone House is located at 3051 M St., NW and is open to the
public Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. For
more information, please call 202/426-6851. Metro stop: Foggy
The Massachusetts Avenue Historic District is linearly conceived. L'Enfant planned Massachusetts Avenue as a transverse avenue crossing the city diagonally from the Eastern Branch to Rock Creek. The longest of the transverse avenues, it is roughly parallel to Pennsylvania Avenue and, like Pennsylvania Avenue, is 160 feet wide. In the years 1890 to 1930, Massachusetts Avenue between Scott Circle and Observatory Hill developed as an elegant boulevard lined by the sumptuous homes of some of the richest and most influential citizens of the United States. In these years a remarkable degree of architectural quality, coherence and unity was achieved, creating a street façade unique in the city and perhaps in the nation. The Depression of 1929 destroyed the lifestyles of many of the families who built these great houses. Embassies, associations, foundations and clubs moved in. Today the character of the Avenue is that of an Embassy Row.
In the late 1880s and 1890s houses along Massachusetts Avenue were built of brick or combinations of brick and brownstone in the Queen Anne, Chateauesque, Richardsonian Romanesque and early Georgian Revival styles. Between 1900 and 1910 palatial residences designed in the eclectic Beaux Arts manner were erected as far north as the intersection of S Street and Massachusetts Avenue. These ranged from incisive, white limestone geometrically massed buildings in the Louis XV and XVI manner and Italian 16th century styles to neo-classical as well as buildings with 16th century northern European origins. From 1910 until the early 1930s, the Beaux Arts style of architecture continued to flourish along the Avenue. Construction has continued on a smaller scale up to the present day.
Many of the buildings in the district possess individual architectural and historical significance, many are listed individually in the National Register and/or in the DC Inventory of Historic Places. These are as follows:
Cosmos Club (Townsend House) NR
Larz Anderson House (Society of the Cincinnati) NR
Washington Club, (Patterson House) NR
Indonesian Embassy (Walsh McLean House) NR
Egyptian Embassy (Joseph Beale House) NR
Japanese Embassy NR
Sulgrave Club (Wadsworth House) NR
Embassy of Uzbekistan (Old Canadian Embassy; Moore House) NR
National Trust for Historic Preservation
(McCormick Apts.) NR
Phillips Collection (Duncan Phillips
House, Phillips Memorial Gallery) NR
Alice Pike Barney Studio
Samuel M. Bryan House (Church of the Savior Ecumenical)
Chancery of Iraq (Boardman House)
Peruvian Chancery (Old Australian Embassy)
Brazilian Embassy (McCormick House)
Cameroon Embassy (Hauge House)
Massachusetts Avenue Historic District includes buildings fronting on Massachusetts Avenue from 17th St., NW to Observatory Circle. Unless noted above all embassies and houses mentioned are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation headquarters, also known as the McCormick Apartments, was constructed between 1917 and 1922 and designed by Jules Henri de Sibour. Sibour was commissioned by Chicago-based millionaire Stanley McCormick to create "the most luxurious apartment building in Washington." The building contained just one unit per floor and became one of the most fashionable residences in the city, attracting such tenants as Lord Duveen, Pearl Mesta, and Andrew Mellon. Built on a corner lot, the building is reminiscent of Parisian apartment buildings with its rusticated first floor, mansard roof, and wrought-iron balcony and balustrade railings.
Today the building houses the headquarters for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Chartered by Congress in 1949, the National Trust is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable. It fights to save historic buildings and the neighborhoods and landscapes they anchor. Through education and advocacy, the National Trust is revitalizing communities across the country and challenges citizens to create sensible plans for the future. It has six regional offices, 20 historic sites, and works with thousands of local community groups nationwide.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is located at 1785 Massachusetts Ave. Tours are available by appointment by calling 202/588-6000.
Kalorama Triangle, due to the contracted period of time during which it was developed, as well the awareness of architectural styles, is a particularly important illustration of the aesthetics of middle-class speculative housing during the early years of the 20th century. The neighborhood is composed both of examples of high style architecture and modest builder-designed dwellings, but it is primarily a showcase for the stylistic variations of popular trends. Three important styles are abundant in Kalorama Triangle: English Arts and Crafts, Georgian Revival and Mediterranean (including both Italian and Spanish derivatives).
The first house constructed on the newly subdivided land was the Fuller House NR in 1893 at 2317 Ashmead Place. This house, designed by its owner, Thomas Fuller, is an early and important representation of the influence of the English Arts and Crafts Movement on residential architecture in the United States.
In 1898, Walter Peter introduced the Georgian Revival style into the district with his design for the residence at 1842 Mintwood Place. This style met with great popularity as a mode for rowhouse design. An example of the Colonial Revival style is 1901 Biltmore Street. It was built in 1901 by Alex Miller to the design of Speiden and Speiden. Several dwellings, 1848 and 1923 Biltmore Street, for example, illustrate a mixture of both Mediterranean and Georgian Revival styles. A.R.Taylor built 1923 Biltmore Street in 1907 and Arthur B. Heaton designed 1848 Biltmore Street in 1909.
1850 and 1852 Biltmore Street provide the most handsome examples of the Mediterranean influence in the Kalorama Triangle. They were designed and built by W. Granville Guss for himself in 1911. The popularity of the Spanish Revival style rose in the 1920s. The firm of Sonneman and Justement designed a row of houses on Ashmead Place that were built in 1921.
Other significant buildings are listed below:
Lothrop Mansion NR
Kalorama Triangle presents many building types and a variety of styles. Its buildings are important both individually and for their relationship to each other. They present a visually rich medium composed of picturesque streets lined with rows of three-and four-story dwellings and anchored by solid blocks of multi-family apartments. Together, the form, size, scale, and the ornament materialize into a significant period piece.
Kalorama Triangle is roughly bounded by Columbia Rd., NW, on the east and south; Connecticut Ave., NW, Rock Creek Park on the west; and the rear of the properties on the north side of Calvert St., NW, on the north. The buildings referred to above are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Woodley Park/Zoo.
An early building in the district, Ingleside (Stoddard Baptist Home) NR at 1818 Newton Street was designed by Thomas Ustick Walter and constructed in 1850 in Italian Villa style. A new addition was added in the 1970s. An example of architecture surviving from the first years of the village is the vernacular house at 3423 Oakwood Terrace built in 1871 by S.P. Brown. The turn of the century marked a major change in the appearance and population of Mount Pleasant. The rural atmosphere that distinguished the early village soon gave way to a distinctly 20th century appearance. With the advent of an extensive streetcar system and the revival of the building industry, many parts of the district were expanded as residential areas. Mount Pleasant with its healthy elevation and beautiful wooded terrain, was a prime location for this development. Rowhouses of many sizes and styles were built throughout the area serving as a unifying element, framing the large detached houses, semi-detached houses, and groups of townhouses. The majority of construction took place from 1900 to 1930 and reflects in large part the popularity of the Classical Revival styles in both privately commissioned and speculative designs.
The North Side of the 1800 Block of Park Road NR boasts a unique group of 10 single-family residences built between 1903 and 1911 in the Colonial Revival style and designed by some of Washington's best known architects. Another distinctive group of 12 semi-detached Georgian Revival rowhouses is 1644-1666 Park Road NR . They were designed by Appleton P. Clarke, Jr., and built in 1906.
Mount Pleasant Street serves as the commercial corridor for the community. A number of apartment houses, churches and schools are scattered throughout the community. The most significant institution and formal architectural structure is the Mount Pleasant Branch Library at the corner of Lamont and 16th Streets. It was constructed in 1925 and designed by New York architect Edward J. Tilton in the Italian Renaissance style.
Mount Pleasant Historic District is roughly bounded by 16th St., NW, on the east; Harvard St., NW, on the south; Rock Creek Park on the west; and Piney Branch Park on the north. The buildings listed above are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Woodley Park-Zoo.
As early as the mid-17th century, the boundaries of the Sheridan-Kalorama Historic District as it is known today were being formed by property lines of the early land grants. During the 40-year period between 1663 and 1703, 18 landowners acquired by grant or sale all of the land which eventually became the District of Columbia. Among the earliest purchases was the land which includes the present Sheridan-Kalorama neighborhood.
Known in the 19th century for its idyllic landscape, the area underwent rapid development in the early 20th century as the city of Washington's growing population moved away from the established urban center in its quest for the suburban ideal. Today, Sheridan-Kalorama is comprised of a network of cohesive town and suburb-like streetscapes. The streets are lined with a variety of housing forms, each of which contributes to a sophisticated residential image that is unique within DC.
This distinctive area, a verdant residential enclave nestled in the midst of the city, contains buildings erected between 1890 and 1988. Individually, the neighborhood's buildings are among the most distinguished residential examples of late 19th and early 20th century revival style architecture in the United States. Major streets and minor roads alike hold naturally significant buildings by some of the country's most celebrated architects juxtaposed with the urbane work of accomplished urban designers.
The earliest urban architecture in this area dates to the Victorian Period. The Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival once dominated the neighborhood. Also, examples of the English Arts and Crafts can be found as can the English Gothic Revival. In the 20th century, more disciplined interpretations derived from historic precedents dominated the architecture. The Colonial Revival style was a major movement in this period as was Beaux Arts Classicism and Italian and French Classicism. Some of the most distinguished buildings are listed below:
Codman-Davis House (The Louise Home) NR
Woodrow Wilson House NHL
The Textile Museum (Tucker and Myers House) NR
The Lindens (King Hooper House) NR
Friend's Meeting House NR
St. Margaret's Church
Charles Evans Hughes House (Chancery of Burma) NHL
Home of Charles Evans Hughes, 10th Justice of the U.S. Supreme
Court Windsor Lodge (William E. Borah Apartment) NHL
Roughly bounded by Connecticut Ave., NW and Florida Ave., NW on the east; P St., NW on the south; and Rock Creek Park on the west and north. All the buildings listed above are private and not open to the public unless noted. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
Woodrow Wilson is the only American President to select Washington to be his home following his final term in office. Late in 1920, Woodrow Wilson's second term neared its end, and Mrs. Wilson started to search for an appropriate residence. On December 14, Mr. Wilson insisted that his wife attend a concert and when she returned he presented her with the deed to this S Street house. Built by Henry Parker Fairbanks in 1915, the red brick house of Georgian style was designed by the architect Waddy B. Wood. The Wilsons installed an elevator and a billiard room, constructed a brick garage and placed iron gates at the entrance to the drive. Some partitions were changed and shelves were built for Mr. Wilson's 8000-volume library. Wilson, partially paralyzed from a stroke he suffered in 1919, spent his few remaining years in partial seclusion at the house, under the continuous care of his wife and servants. On February 3, 1924, he died in the upstairs bedroom and was laid to rest in Washington National Cathedral. Mrs. Wilson continued to live in the residence until her death in 1961. Prior to that time, she had donated it and many of the furnishings to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which opened the Woodrow Wilson House to the public in 1963. Included in Mrs. Wilson's gift to the American people are furnishings, portraits, books, autographed photographs of personages identified with events in Wilson's administration, a Gobelin tapestry, commemorative china, and early furniture owned by the Bolling family of Virginia.
The Woodrow Wilson House is located at 2340 S St., NW. It is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Day. Groups are admitted year round by reservation. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
The Woodrow Wilson House is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.
The name Meridian Hill comes from a proposal in the early 1800s to establish an official meridian or longitudinal base point, for map-making and other purposes, through the mid-point of the White House. A plaque at the upper entrance to the park from 16th Street takes official note of an 1816 meridian marker which stood on the proposed meridian.
Meridian Hill Park was designed and built between 1912 and 1936, and has been under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service since 1933. The idea of a park at the site goes back to the 1901 McMillan plan for the city, which suggested a park on both sides of 16th Street at Meridian Hill in recognition of the site's panoramic views and important position relative to the L'Enfant Plan for the city.The park is divided into two principal areas: the lower park, with a water cascade of linked basins, symmetric stairways and a large reflecting pool surrounded by a plaza; and the upper park with an open mall, wooded areas flanking the mall, and a broad terrace overlooking the lower park.
The land comprising Meridian Hill park was purchased by Congress in 1910, due in part to the efforts of Mary Foote Henderson, a private citizen and park advocate with considerable real estate interests in the area. The first plans for the park were drawn up by landscape architect George Burnap, and approved by the Commission of Fine Arts in 1914. Burnap's Italianate design suited the steep topography and exploited the views from the crest of the escarpment. The features of his design were centered on a single longitudinal axis extending north-south through the site. The elevated north end of the park featured a fountain, formal gardens, and a great terrace. A water cascade of linked basins was planned for the steep slope to the south, terminated by rectangular reflecting pools in a plaza at the foot of the hill. In 1917, landscape architect Horace Peaslee replaced Burnap but largely remained true to Burnap's intentions; however, Peaselee abandoned the elaborate formal gardens of the upper portions of the park and replaced them with an open mall. The construction of the park relied on techniques and materials advanced for their time. The terraces, walls and pavements-almost all the structural elements in this highly structured landscape-were rendered in pre-cast and cast-in-place concrete treated in a variety of ways. The concrete contractor, John J. Earley, was a highly skilled craftsman who interpreted mosaic pavements, urns, balustrades, niches, and planting containers in concrete.
A number of important monuments and memorials have been placed in the park since the 1920s. The Buchanan Memorial (Hans Schuler, sculptor; William G. Beecher, architect), was one of the first planned although it was not dedicated in its site until 1930. It remains the only memorial to President James Buchanan in Washington. In 1922, a statue of Joan of Arc, a copy of the figure by Paul Dubois at Reims Cathedral, was installed directly on the main cross axis of the park. Dante (Ettore Ximenes, sculptor) was also put in place that year. A marble allegorical figure of Serenity (Jose Clara, sculptor) was installed in 1925.
The scope and ambition of Meridian Hill Park set it apart; the idea of creating a Renaissance villa landscape in the middle of an American city to serve as a public park and cultural institution has no true parallel. The park is perhaps the most ambitious and successful example of Neoclassical park design in the United States, and it is an example of extremely high artistic merit. The breadth of its ambition, its remarkable integrity, and the masterful sureness of its design and construction single it out for recognition.
Meridian Hill is located between 16th and 15th Sts. approximately one and one-half miles north of the White House, from Florida Ave. to Irving St., NW. Metro stop: Columbia Heights
Meridian House, at 1630 Crescent Place, was built by Ambassador Irwin Boyle Laughlin. He purchased the land in 1912, two years after his friend Henry White bought the adjacent site. After a long and distinguished career with the US Foreign Service, Mr. Laughlin retired in 1919 and filled his house with his collections of 18th-century French drawings and Oriental porcelains and screens. Although he later returned to the diplomatic corps, serving as Ambassador to Greece and Spain in the 1920s and 1930s, Mr. Laughlin also played an active role in Washington’s artistic and historical communities.
Meridian House was built in the 1920s by renowned architect John Russell Pope. Pope was well-known in the DC architectural scene for designing the Jefferson Memorial, the National Gallery of Art (West Building) and the National Archives. In 1929, Meridian House was described by Architectural Forum as:
Renovated in 1994, Meridian House's principal rooms retain their original architectural detail including the 18th century European overdoor paintings, antique brass hardware, and lighting fixtures. The classical symmetry of the Louis XVI style is reflected throughout the house.
The dining room features a beautiful Mortlake tapestry, which dates to the late 17th century. Purchased by the Laughlin family in England, the tapestry depicts the legendary reception given to Alexander the Great by the Greek philosopher Diogenes. An almost identical tapestry hangs in Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The reception gallery remains much as it was at the time the Laughlin family occupied the house. The wrought-iron and marble-topped side tables, the four Waterford crystal torcheres in the corners, the blue Chinese temple jars, and the antique clock and barometer on the mirrored walls are all part of the original furnishings. The loggia, which links the major reception rooms and rear garden, includes four marble busts sculpted in France, representing the four seasons. The dining room also features two portraits one of Ambassador Laughlin and one of his daughter, Gertrude Laughlin Chanler, as a child. A portrait of Mrs. Laughlin hangs nearby in the Chairmen's Study. All three were painted by Philippe de Laszlo, a renowned portrait artist of the early 20th century.
The rear and side gardens largely retain their original design. The pebbled courtyard has 40 linden trees, imported from Europe when the house was built. The statues throughout the garden are original to the house, as are the statues at the four roof-line corners.
Meridian House is located at 1630 Crescent Place, NW. Open Hours – 8:00am to 6:00pm, Monday through Friday, with additional open hours when an exhibition is on view in the Cafritz Galleries. The house is available for special event rentals. Call 202-667-6800 for further information or visit the website www.meridian.org. Metro stop: Dupont Circle or U Street.
White-Meyer House was designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope, who designed the Jefferson Memorial, the National Gallery of Art (West Building) and the National Archives. Located at 1624 Crescent Place, the house was home to two prestigious Washington families. The property was purchased in 1910 by distinguished American diplomat Henry White, who served as ambassador to Italy and France. The red brick Georgian house was completed in 1912 at a total cost of $155,497.
During the Whites' occupancy, the house was the scene of many significant social and historical events. Notable guests included Georges Clemenceau, Robert Cecil, Henry Cabot Lodge and President Warren Harding. In 1917, at the request of the Department of State, Ambassador White lent the house to the French mission of Marshall Joffre for its headquarters, and the French flag flew from the residence while high-level strategic meetings took place inside. Marshal Joffre later wrote that in this house "were sown the seeds of military and naval cooperation which bore fruit several months later on the battlefront."
When Henry White died in 1927, the property passed to his son, John Campbell White. Eugene Meyer, who subsequently became owner of The Washington Post, rented the house for several years before purchasing it in 1934. The Meyers' daughter Katharine (Katharine Graham) spent her teenage years in the house. Prominent guests included Eleanor Roosevelt, Adlai Stevenson, Thomas Mann, Earl Warren, and John and Robert Kennedy.
After the Meyers' deaths, the house became the property of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation and was leased for use by the Antioch Law School Library. In 1987, the house was purchased and restored by Meridian International Center. Great care was taken to retain the house's architectural integrity and preserve as much of the original garden as possible. Throughout the house, ceilings and walls have been refinished and architectural details and period hardware restored or recreated. The renovation, completed in 1988, won an American Institute of Architects award for excellence.
White-Meyer House is located at 1624 Crescent Place, NW. Open Hours – 8:00am to 6:00pm, Monday through Friday, with additional open hours when an exhibition is on view in the Cafritz Galleries. The house is available for special event rentals. Call 202-667-6800 for further information or visit the website www.meridian.org. Metro stop: Dupont Circle or U Street.
Since the earliest developments in the 1870s, the area has been associated with African American leaders in business, education, politics, religion, art, architecture, science and government. The most important of these figures was Frederick Douglass, runaway slave, abolitionist, orator, writer and civil servant, often called the Father of the Civil Rights Movement. Douglass built the southern three buildings of a five-house, Second Empire style row at 2000-2008 17th Street in 1875-76. His son inherited the houses from his father and lived at 2002 from 1877 until his death in 1908. The area was also home to other notables. James E. Storum, the educator and entrepreneur who founded the Capital Savings Bank, the first AfricanAmerican owned banking institution in DC lived at 2004 17th St. Calvin Brent, the late-19th-century architect lived on V Street. James C. Dacy, editor, Realtor and DC Recorder of Deeds from 1904-1910, also lived in the area. This tradition of community and neighborhood leadership continues today.
Architecturally, the Strivers' Section is characterized by late-19th and early-20th-century rowhouses and a variety of apartment houses. A small commercial area has evolved along Florida Avenue. An institutional building, the handsome firehouse at 1624 U Street (now a restaurant), adds to the area's character. Most of the rowhouses are relatively simple, rhythmically repeating, speculative buildings. These houses range in scale from two-story houses to grander imposing styles.
The single, flat-fronted Italianate rowhouses with their ornamental moldings and cornices that stand on the south side of the 1700 block of T Street, (1764-1778) are generally considered the earliest buildings in the area. Similar rowhouses, also dating c.1875, can be found in the 1900 block of New Hampshire Avenue. The Richardsonian Romanesque Revival style is prominently represented in the massive red sandstone mansion 2102 17th Street designed by E.D. Frazier. Richardsonian Romanesque is displayed on houses at 1730-1738 V Street and 1700-1704 Florida Avenue. Another grouping designed by N.T. Haller in 1895 is located at 1822-24 New Hampshire Avenue. The Edwardian 1700 blocks of T and U Streets are architectural focal points of the district. Apartment houses, mainly constructed during the first quarter of the 20th century, appear throughout the district. Within the area, the apartment houses range from luxurious to plain. The Strivers' Section remains remarkably intact, both architecturally and for its historical associations, and makes a significant contribution to DC.
The Striver's Section Historic District is roughly bounded by Swann St., NW on the south; Florida Ave., NW on the north and west; and the 16th Street Historic District on the east. The buildings are private residences and are not open to the public. Metro stop: Dupont Circle
It was the Board of Public works under the leadership of Alexander Shepherd that spearheaded the way for the development of Dupont Circle. Nevada Senator William Morris Stewart led the "California Syndicate" which bought up tracts of undeveloped land. The style of the neighborhood was set when Stewart erected his mansion (now demolished) in the 1870s. By the late 1880s the Dupont neighborhood was an affluent and vibrant neighborhood.
In 1871 the Corps of Engineers began construction of Dupont Circle itself which at the time was called Pacific Circle. In 1882 Congress authorized a memorial statue of Rear Admiral Samuel Francis duPont in recognition of his Civil War service. The bronze statue was erected in 1884. In 1921 the statue of Dupont was replaced by a double-tiered white marble fountain. It was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon. Three classical figures, symbolizing the Sea, the Stars and the Wind are carved on the fountain's central shaft.
The Dupont Circle Historic District is a primarily residential district extending generally in all directions from Dupont Circle. The area was developed in the last quarter of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th century. Two types of housing predominate in the historic district: palatial mansions and freestanding residences built in the styles popular between 1895 and 1910; and three-and-four-story rowhouses, many of which are variations on the Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque Revival styles, built primarily before the turn of the century. The mansions line the broad, tree-lined diagonal avenues that intersect the circle and the rowhouses line the grid streets of the historic district. This juxtaposition of house types and street pattern gives the area a unique character.
When the Dupont Circle area first became a fashionable residential neighborhood some of this community's wealthiest residents constructed houses here. One early Victorian house still standing is the Christian Heurich Mansion (Washington Historical Society) NR at 1307 New Hampshire Avenue. It was built in 1892-4 and designed by John G. Meyers for the owner of the Heurich Brewery. Stanford White of McKim, Mead and White, was the partner in charge of the design for 15 Dupont Circle for Robert W. Patterson, (The Patterson House NR). The 1901 \building is currently the home of the Washington Club. White also designed the Thomas Nelson Page House NR at 1759 R Street. The 1896 structure is in the Colonial Revival style. Jules Henri deSibour designed the Embassy of Columbia at 1520 20th Street in 1906 in a French country Chateau style. The Perry Belmont House (International Order of the Eastern Star) NR was designed in the Beaux Arts style by Samson and Trumbauer in 1901. It is located at 1618 New Hampshire Avenue. The Boardman House (Embassy of Iraq) at 1801 P Street was designed by Hornblower and Marshall in 1890.
The Weeks House (Women's National Democratic Club) NR was designed by Harvey Page in 1892 with an addition by Nick Satterlee in 1966. The Scott-Thropp House (Church of Scientology) NR at 1701 20th Street was designed by Hornblower and Marshall in 1890 in an eclectic manner. Another large, commanding building is St. Matthew's Cathedral and Rectory NR at 1725-39 New Hampshire Avenue designed by Heins and LeFarge in 1893.
The majority of the houses in the Dupont Circle Historic District are not mansions, however. The blocks along the grid streets are lined with rowhouses that were occupied by middle-class professionals and official Washingtonians. The styles employed in designing these rowhouses which were built from the 1880s into the first decade of the 20th century, range from Queen Anne to Richardsonian Revival to Renaissance and Georgian Revival. Variations on Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque were most prevalent in this area of DC. Some of the rows were designed as a unit by a single architect while others were individually built and designed. The row on the south side of the 1700 block of Q Street, designed in 1889 by T.F. Schneider, is one of the most impressive Richardsonian rows in the area. The north side of the 2000 block of N Street is one of the finest Second Empire rows in the district. These houses were built between 1879 and 1881 by Christopher Thom.
The 2000 block of Hillyer Place contains a variety of styles, especially Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque. One of the most varied and architecturally intact blocks is the 1700 block of N Street which reflects the breadth of architectural talent in the area. A commercial corridor along Connecticut Avenue and P Street west of the circle developed in this district. The early commercial buildings are small in scale and do not detract from the district's character. In recent years, pressure for large-scale commercial office development on Connecticut Avenue has been intense. A number of new office buildings, some unsympathetic to the historic district line the northern and southern fringes of Connecticut Avenue.
Dupont Circle Historic District is roughly bounded by Rhode Island Avenue, NW; M and N Sts., NW, on the south; Florida Avenue, NW, on the west; Swann St., NW, on the north; and the 16th Street Historic District on the east. The buildings described are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
Duncan Phillips, Jr. opened the Phillips Collection in a wing of his home in 1921 as a memorial to his father and brother, who had died in 1917 and 1918 respectively. Duncan Phillips, Jr had already displayed his interest in art in the book he wrote entitled, The Enchantment of Art, published in 1914. In the winter of 1921 the gallery in a wing of Duncan's house was opened so that the public could view his collection of modern paintings without going through the house where Duncan and his family lived. Around 1930 the Phillips family moved out of the house so that it could be used entirely for museum purposes. Some of the artists featured in the gallery include: El Greco, Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, Degas, Gauguin, and Cezanne. Duncan Phillips not only founded the museum, but he donated his art collection and home, and also served as its active director until his death in 1966. His wife Marjorie Acker Phillips and his son Laughlin Phillips both succeeded him as the directors. Today, The Phillips Collection continues to offer an inviting place to view and understand art.
The Duncan Phillips House is located at 1600 21st St., NW. The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. On Sunday it is open 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. Thursday there are extended hours from 10:00 am to 8:30 pm. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
The Christian Heurich Mansion (Heurich House Museum) commonly known as the Brewmaster's Castle, was built in 1892-1894 by German immigrant, Christian Heurich, as a private residence. Mr. Heurich was one of Washington's wealthiest citizens and known philanthropists. Born in 1842, Christian Heurich became a brewer while still in Europe and arrived in the United States at the close of the Civil War. By 1873 he was the sole owner of the Christian Heurich Lager Beer Brewery, which later became the Christian Heurich Brewing Company.
The interior of the house, including most of the family furniture, has been carefully preserved and displayed much as it was when the Heurich's lived there. Some of the most interesting interior elements in the house include: the curving staircase made of brass, marble, and onyx; the elaborately carved wooden fireplaces in nearly every room; the large quantities of gold leaf decoration; and the richly ornamented bathtubs and washbasins.
On April 19, 1955, Mrs. Heurich deeded the house to the Historical Society of Washington, DC, which received the building shortly after her death on January 24, 1956. The Historical Society occupied the house until 2003 when the newly formed Heurich House Foundation bought it and continues to operate it as a museum.
The Christian Heurich House is located at 1307 New Hampshire Ave., NW. Walk-in tours are available Thursday through Saturday at 11:30am and 1:00pm, with an additional tour on Saturday at 2:30pm. There is a suggested donation. The museum is also available for private tours and special event rentals. Call 202-429-1894 for further information or visit the website. Metro stop: Dupont Circle
St. Matthew's Cathedral is located at 1735 Rhode Island Ave., NW. It is open to the public for services. For more information call 202/347-3215. Metro stop: Farragut North.
The Embassy Gulf Service Station is is located at 2200 P St., NW. It is open to the public during normal hours of operation.
The 16th Street Historic District is characterized by the linear experience of the street itself. 16th Street, one of the most important numbered streets in the Federal City, is a major element of the L'Enfant Plan. This section of the 160-foot wide street, with its vista south to the White House, is contained between two major elements of the L'Enfant Plan-Scott Circle on the south and Florida Avenue, NW, originally known as Boundary Street on the north, and the sharp rise of Meridian Hill. The physical aspect of 16th Street, combined with the architectural quality of the buildings within the district boundaries and the historical importance of the area, constitute the essence of the historic district. The integration of scale, proportion and use add to the historic district's strong sense of place, which is reinforced by the architectural quality of its buildings.
The buildings range in type from a small, one-story office building, to three and four-story rowhouses, large detached houses, churches, small apartment buildings, monumental apartments and institutional buildings. They generally date from c.1875-to the 1920s, and their styles, including Italianate, Queen Anne, Richardsonian Romanesque, and the many styles of the Beaux Arts, clearly reflect the eclectic character of American architecture. The street was developed primarily with rowhouses, most of which were individually designed and built. Large detached houses are also found in this district, one of the best-preserved and visually interesting late-19th-early 20th-century streetscapes in DC.
Some of the earliest houses stand on the northwest corner of 16th and T Streets. The two Italianate structures at 1900 and 1902 16th Street date from 1878. More common are the brick rowhouses with projecting bays and fanciful rooflines. An early example dating from 1875 stands at 1904 16th Street. This two-story house is two bays wide with a steep pitched gable. One of the finest examples of the Italian bracketed style still standing is the 1878 Huntley House at 1601 16th Street. Perhaps the finest of the Queen Anne houses are those in the row at 1837-41 16th Street. Built in 1890, these houses incorporate the irregularity of massing, variety of color and texture, and the round turrets of the style.
A number of Richardsonian Romanesque houses still stand such as the Sherman House at 1401 16th Street which was built in 1888 by Charles and Samuel Edmonston. The three-story Hampton P. Denman House at 1623 16th Street was designed by Fuller and Wheeler in 1886. The outstanding example of this style is 1628 16th Street designed in 1890 by Harvey Page. A house which reflects the varied sources of eclecticism is the Flemish Revival House at 1720 16th Street, which was built in 1892. An excellent example of Federal Revival stands at 1610 R Street. It was designed in 1910 by Jules H. deSibour.
Institutional uses also began to spread up 16th Street at about the same time the Beaux Arts classicism that was influenced by the 1893 Colombian Exposition began to sweep the country. The Carnegie Institution at 1530 P Street, designed in 1908 by Carrère and Hastings, and the Jewish Community Center at 1529 16th Street, designed by B. Stanley Simmons in 1920, are excellent examples of Neo-classical design.
Late Gothic Revival can be seen in the Church of the Holy City at 1611 16th Street designed in 1895 by R. Langford Warren and built by Paul J. Pelz. Gothic elements were also applied to the Chastleton at 1701 16th Street, one of Harry Wardman's buildings. One of the district's most unusual buildings is the Temple of the Scottish Rite at 1733 16th Street. Designed by John Russell Pope and constructed between 1911 and 15, it was modeled after the tomb of King Mausolus at Halicarnassus.
The architects responsible for these buildings include many of the most prominent architects working in DC at this time. On 16th Street, their buildings, and those of many others, work exceptionally well. The imaginative, varied facades of these buildings create a rhythmic streetscape and a continuous visual experience seldom so well preserved in the District of Columbia.
The 16th Street Historic District includes buildings fronting on 16th St., NW, from Scott Circle to Florida Ave. The buildings are private residences and not open to the public. Metro stop: Dupont Circle or U Street-Cardozo.
The Scottish Rite Temple is located at 1733 16th St., NW, between R and S Sts. Tours are offered on weekdays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. Appointments must be made to peruse the library's collections. For further information, please call 202/232-3579. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
The Sumner School was built on the site of an earlier school constructed in 1866 under the auspices of the Freedmen's Bureau. Since its dedication in 1872, the School's history encompasses the growing educational opportunities available for the District of Columbia's African Americans. Sumner School stands as one of the few physical reminders of the presence and history of African Americans in one of the most historic areas of the city. It is one of a series of modern public buildings constructed by the District of Columbia government during the period of intensive municipal improvement which cumulated in Alexander R. Shepard's remarkable transformation of the city in the early 1870s. A century later, the school had fallen into disrepair. Through the concerted efforts of Richard L. Hurlbut and others, a meticulous $5 million renovation was undertaken from 1984 to 1986. The school now houses a museum and conference center, of which Hurlbut was named curator and director, according to his obituary in the Washington Post.
The Charles Sumner School is located on 17th and M Sts., NW. It now houses a museum and archive for the DC public school records and artifacts. Spaces are available for meetings and programs for non profit and government organizations on a limited basis. The museum is open to the public free of charge Monday-Friday, 10:00am to 5:00pm; the archives are open by appointment only Monday-Friday 10:00am to 4:00pm, please call 202-730-1421 to schedule an appointment. If you are interested in arranging for one of the meeting spaces, please call 202-730-0478.
Nearest Metro Stop: Farragut North (Red Line)
The Mayflower Hotel is located on 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW. For further information call 202/347-3000. Metro stop: Farragut North.
The Mayflower Hotel is a Historic Hotels of America member, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The Metropolitan A.M.E. Church is located at 1518 M St., NW. It is open to the public Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Services are held on Sunday at 8:00 am and 11:00 am. For information call 202/331-1426. Metro stop: Farragut West.
The Greater 14th Street area is a primarily residential area that surrounds a major commercial corridor. Initially developed during the mid-to-late 19th century, much of the area's brick Victorian architecture remains intact. Early 20th century replacement architecture is found most notably along 14th Street.
There are several buildings located in the historic district that are also individual landmarks. The Gladstone and Hawarden Apartment Buildings NR at 1419 and 1423 R Street are among the earliest extant middle-class apartment buildings in the city and the first documented twin apartment buildings. The Queen Anne/Romanesque Revival facades illustrate the final phase of Victorian eclecticism. They were built (1900-1901) and designed by local architect George S. Cooper. The Alma Thomas House NR is located at 1530 15th Street. It was the home and studio of a nationally recognized artist. It was built in 1875; the architect is unknown.
The oldest church in the district is the Luther Place Memorial Church NR at 1226 Vermont Avenue at Thomas Circle. It is a distinctive Gothic Revival Church and a notable example of Post-Civil War architecture. It was built 1870-73, and originally designed by Judson York and later modified by Harkness and Davis. St. Luke's Episcopal Church NHL was the city's first independent African American Episcopal church. It was established in 1879 by Reverend Alexander Crummel, one the foremost African American scholars of the 19th century. It was designed in the Early English Gothic style by Calvin Brent, the city's first African American architect and was built in 1876-79. The Mount Olivet Lutheran Church at 1302 Vermont Avenue was designed by R.G. Russell in the Gothic Revival style in 1882. The Grace Reformed Church, Sunday School and Parish House NR is located at 1405 15th Street. Theodore Roosevelt attended this church regularly during his presidency. It is a Gothic Revival church built of Cleveland greystone and bearing sculpture by James E. Early. The church was built in 1902-03 and designed by Paul Pelz and A.A. Ritcher.
The 14th Street Historic District is roughly bounded by S St., NW on the north; 11th and 12th Sts., NW on the east; N and O Sts., NW on the south; and the 16th St. Historic District on the west. The buildings listed above are not open to the public; churches are open during scheduled services. Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
The historic district is also significant as the center of Washington's African American community between c.1900 and 1948. While always racially and socio-economically diverse, the area was predominately white and middle class until the turn of the century. As Washington became increasingly segregated, the neighborhood emerged as a "city within a city" for Washington's African American residents. U Street became the city's most important concentration of businesses, entertainment facilities, and fraternal and religious institutions owned and operated by African Americans, while the surrounding neighborhood became home to many of the city's leading African American citizens. This second phase of development is most tangibly evident along U Street, and its immediately adjacent blocks where buildings of significant stature and architectural expression were built by and for the African American community. While the area remained an important commercial and cultural center for the African American community through the 1960s, the neighborhood began to change in character after racially restrictive real estate covenants were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, thus allowing African Americans access to housing throughout the area.
Today, the Greater U Street neighborhood is defined by a variety of architectural styles and building types ranging from the 19th-century residential and commercial architecture to the early- to mid-20th-century African American fraternities/societies, theaters, and jazz clubs for which the area gained international acclaim. Between the commercial transportation corridors, the streetscapes are defined by rows of 19th-century dwellings punctuated by churches, corner stores, and schools. There are 12 individually notable landmarks within the historic district which are listed below.
The Evans-Tibbs House NR is located at 1910 Vermont Avenue and was the home of Lillian Evans Tibbs, known as Madame Evanti, the first internationally acclaimed African American opera star. It was designed by R.E. Crump and built in 1894. The Lincoln Theatre NR, located at 1215 U Street, was constructed as a first-run house for an African American clientele. Built in 1921, it is a significant collaboration between noted theater designer Reginald Geare and Harry M. Crandall, a leading Washington theater operator. The Prince Hall Masonic Temple NR at 1000 U Street was the home of the first African American Masonic Order in the south. The Neoclassical building was designed by prominent African American architect Albert I. Cassell, and built in 1922-30.
The Southern Aid Society/Dunbar Theater NR at 1901-3 7th Street was built in 1921 and designed by Isaiah T. Hatton, and Reginald Geare, theater architect. The True Reformer Building NR at 1200 U Street was built in 1903 for the United Order of True Reformers. It was the first major commission of John A. Lankford, prominent African American architect. Frelinghuysen University (Edward P. Goodwin House) NR at 1800 Vermont Avenue served as the first permanent home of Frelinghuysen University to provide academic, vocational and religious education for African American working class adults. It was built by Diller B. Goff in 1879.
The Lincoln Congregational Temple United Church of Christ NR is located at 1701 11th Street. It is an unusual example of Italian Romanesque Revival architecture designed in 1928 by Howard Wright Cutler. It is the home of an influential congregation. The Anthony Bowen YMCA (12th Street Branch) NHL can be found at 1816 12th Street. It is the home of the nation's first African American chapter of the YMCA, and founded by former slave Anthony Bowen in 1853. The present building dates from 1908-1912 and was a major commission of W. Sidney Pittman, one of the nation's first African American architects.
The Howard Theater NR at 620 T Street was built in 1910 and designed by J. Edward Storck. It was the city's first legitimate theater for African American audiences and entertainers. The Whitelaw Hotel NR at 1839 13th Street is an apartment hotel, which long served as a unique meeting place and public accommodations for notable African Americans during the era of segregation. It was the work of Isaiah T. Hatton, locally trained as an African American architect, and built in 1919.
The Mary Ann Shad Carey House NHL, the home of the first African American female journalist is located at 1421 W Street. After the Civil War, she became the nation's first African American female lawyer. The house was built c.1890. The Manhattan Laundry NR is located at 1326-46 Florida Avenue. It is a complex of vernacular and architect-designed commercial buildings representing more than 50 years of commercial growth.
The Greater 14th Street Historic District is roughly bounded by Florida Ave., NW; 12th St., NW; and S and 16th Sts., NW. Unless otherwise noted above all buildings are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: U Street-Cardozo.
In the center of the circle itself is a bronze equestrian statue of Major General John A. Logan on a pink marble base. The sculpture was designed by Franklin Simmons. Logan was Commander of the Army of the Tennessee during the Civil War and later the Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Logan also served as Representative and Senator from Illinois. President McKinley attended the dedication ceremonies in 1901.
One of the greatest distinctions of the Logan Circle Historic District is the way in which the buildings, individually and in groups, occupy the irregularly shaped lots and frontages created by the non-grid pattern of the streets. Despite variations of style, detail, and individual excellence, it is the unity of materials, scale and period character, which make this group of buildings a distinct and significant historic district.
Nos. 1 and 2 Logan Circle is a double house designed in the Second Empire style and constructed around 1880 which aggressively occupies the prominent southwest position on the circle. Nos. 4-14 and 1500 13th Street are 11 townhouses which occupy the northwest quadrant of the circle and typify the architecture of the district. Of varied High Victorian and Richardsonian styles, constructed of several kinds of stone and brick, all are three to five stories in height. No. 4 is particularly noteworthy for its porches and detailing. No. 1500 13th Street has considerable ornamental ironwork with the original cast-metal porches, rails and fences remaining. Nos. 1314-1344 Vermont Avenue is a series of houses which represents excellent examples of late-19th-century domestic architecture. They date from 1875 to 1890 and are constructed of brick, pressed brick and stone. Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church at 1308 Vermont Avenue is an individually designated landmark within the District of Columbia. The church was erected between 1882 and 1884 as the Vermont Avenue Christian Church. R. G. Russel of Hartford, Connecticut, designed the church in the High Victorian Gothic style.
In its heyday, the circle was a fashionable address, the home of prominent businessmen and statesmen. By the mid-1890s, the wealthy were beginning to build their mansions further west toward Dupont Circle. Today, Logan Circle is the focus of renewed restoration and preservation activity.
The Logan Circle Historic District generally includes the buildings in the immediate vicinity of Logan Circle. Privately owned these buildings are not open to the public. Metro stop: Shaw-Howard University.
On December 5, 1935, in New York, Bethune founded the National Council of Negro Women. Expressing a desire to see black women united to "meet the unfolding of larger things," the organization decided on the following objectives: to promote unity of action among women's organizations in matters affecting the educational, cultural, economic, political and social life in America; to build a fellowship of women devoted to developing friendly relations among all people in the world; to collect and preserve information about and affecting women; and to work for the complete elimination of any and all forms of discrimination and segregation based on race, religion, color, national origin and sex.
The Council's first office was located in Mrs. Bethune's living room at 1812 Ninth Street, NW. Several years after the organization formed, the growing membership required a larger headquarters, and the organization moved to this house at 1318 Vermont Avenue, NW. It was at this Victorian townhouse that Mary McLeod Bethune, as the president of the National Council of Negro Women, received heads of state, government officials, and leaders from around the world. The house was the first national headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women, and is now the site of the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial Museum and the National Archives for Black Women's History. The Archives, which houses the largest manuscript collection of materials pertaining to black women and their organizations, contains extensive correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia relating to Mary McLeod Bethune. Both the museum and archives actively collect artifacts, clothing, artwork, and other materials which document the history of black women and the black community.
The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House is located at 1318 Vermont Ave., NW. It is open from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Saturday. The facility is closed most Federal holidays. There are no admission fees, but donations are accepted. For more information, please call 202/673-2402. McPherson Square.
General Oliver Otis Howard House is located on the Howard
University Campus at 2401 Sixth St., NW. It is not open to the
public. Metro stop: Shaw/Howard U.
The McGill houses were designed in the tradition of A. J. Downing's Country Houses which first appeared in 1850 and depicted homes designed in the style of Italian villas, Gothic cottages, and other stylistic variations. Illustrated in prospectuses published by the developer entitled, "LeDroit Park Illustrated," and "Architectural Advertiser," the houses are depicted with varied facades and similar floor plans. There is one block left which includes all of the original McGill houses and no intrusions (the 400 block of U Street). Another block which contains several very handsome McGill houses is the 500 block of T Street. The Gothic style house at 317 T Street is a fine example of McGill's style. Located next door at 325 T Street is a Second Empire style house. The double house on Third and T Streets constructed for General William Birney and Mr. Arthur Birney also has a high mansard roof. The house retains its patterned and scalloped roof, a finial and elaborate molded wood cornice and dormers. The house at 201 T Street (later the home of Frelinghuysen University) still retains some Eastlakian motifs, combined with Italian Villa style alterations, added probably in the 1880s.
The rowhouses, constructed in the late 1880s and 1890s, are primarily low-rise brick buildings with fine terra cotta and decorative brickwork. They have rooflines which are frequently accented with turrets, towers, pedimented gables and iron cresting. The original developers took care in landscaping the area with the planting of ornamental trees and hedges. The circle at the juncture of T and 3rd Streets provides a focal point for the district.
LeDroit Park was developed by Amzi L. Barber, one of the founders of Howard University. Barber married the daughter of successful real estate broker LeDroit Langdon and resigned his post at Howard in 1873. LeDroit Park was developed as an exclusively white residential area, and this policy was enforced to the extent that a fence enclosed the area and guards were stationed at the gates to restrict access. This fence became a focal point of unrest. In July of 1888, the fence was torn down by protesting African Americans, which signaled a movement toward the integration of the area. In 1893, a barber, Octavius Williams, became the first African American to move into the subdivision. The LeDroit Park area was integrated for only a short time, and by the beginning of World War I, the white families had moved out.
Among the prominent African Americans who lived in LeDroit Park were Robert A. Terrell, the first African American municipal Judge and his wife, Mary Church Terrell, a distinguished educator, suffragette, and civil rights activist. She was the first African American to serve on the DC School Board. Her house, at 326 T Street is a National Historic Landmark. Major Christian Fleetwood, a Civil War hero, General Benjamin Davis, the first African American general, and violinist Clarence Cameron White also resided in LeDroit Park. Walter Washington, the first mayor of DC elected under home rule and his wife, Benetta resided at 408 T Street, and the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar resided at 321 U Street. The Frelinghuysen University also had its roots in LeDroit. This school, located at 201 T Street and founded in 1906 by Dr. Jesse Lawson and Dr. Anna J. Cooper, was established to provide evening education classes for employed African Americans who were unable to attend school during the day. LeDroit Park remains essentially intact today and serves as home to many prominent African Americans.
The LeDroit Park Historic District is roughly bounded by Rhode Island and Florida Aves. on the south; Howard University on the west; Elm St. on the north; and 2nd St. on the east. All the houses mentioned above are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Shaw-Howard University
The Mary Church Terrell House is located at 326 T Street, N.W. in Washington, DC It is not open to the public.
Blagden Alley is a historic district defined by middle-class residences, churches and small apartment buildings which display a rich variety of Victorian architectural styles dating from the 1860s to the 1890s. In the interior of each block are extant examples of utilitarian alley dwellings, such as working class residences, stables and commercial buildings that are hidden behind the buildings facing the streets. The area illustrates how different classes, races and services were physically organized in the 19th-century city of Washington.
The names Blagden Alley and Naylor Court were derived from two 19th-century property owners, Thomas Blagden and Dickerson Nailor. Blagden owned property in the area and ran a lumberyard in the city. Dickerson Nailor (now spelled Naylor) also owned property and was a grocer. After the Civil War, Washington's downtown became increasingly commercial and residential development grew north to the Blagden Alley area in the 1870s and attracted several prestigious, affluent residents. The elegant townhouse, the Blanche K. Bruce House (NHL) at 909 M Street was constructed in 1873. Bruce was the first African American to serve as a Senator in Congress (R-Miss, 1875-1881). To the south was a house built by Alexander "Boss" Shepard, the chief of the Board of Public Works during the 1870s. Streetcar lines connected 9th and 7th Streets with downtown in 1873, and these streets served as the main commercial corridors.
After the Civil War, many African Americans migrated to Washington and came to live in the alley dwellings. They were small and poorly constructed buildings, mainly of wood and brick. The living conditions were overcrowded and unsanitary. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, there were concentrated efforts to have the alley dwellings demolished. Bladgen Alley and Naylor Court are two of only a handful of alleys which are extant.
The Blagden Alley neighborhood continued to serve as a closely-knit, racially mixed middle and working class neighborhood into the 20th century. However, the widening of 9th Street with its subsequent loss of street trees and yards, the flight of the middle class to the suburbs, the increase of absentee landlords and the 1968 riots led to deterioration of the area.
Today, there is interest in renovating and restoring the homes, and the area has an active community group interested in fighting crime. New residents have been attracted to the area by the charm of the buildings and the proximity to downtown.
Blagden Alley-Naylor Court is bounded by 9th, 10th, M and O Sts., NW. All of the buildings mentioned are private and not open to the public. Metro stop: Mt. Vernon Sq-UDC.
The significance of Foggy Bottom's vernacular architecture is further enhanced by the 19th century alley dwellings that are located in Snow's Court (between 24th and 25th Streets and K and I Streets) and Hughes Mews (between 25th and 26th Streets and K and I Streets). The area originally housed workers from such nearby industries as Godey's lime kilns, the Washington Gas and Light Company, the glass works, the Abner/Drury and Christian Heurich breweries, and Cranford's Paving Company. The population of Foggy Bottom came to consist primarily of poor immigrants who lived close to work. These people were mostly of German and Irish extraction. Foggy Bottom was described in those days as being low and swampy with fogs settling in over the river banks and mixing with smog from the gas works.
Today, the development of a parkway along the Potomac, the trend toward restoration and preservation of neighborhood areas, the proximity to memorials, the Department of State and such high-rise buildings as the Watergate have lent Foggy Bottom a special place in the city. However, the late 19th-century working class neighborhood is still discernable from its immediate surroundings. Foggy Bottom serves as a visual reminder of Washington's little known industrial heritage.
The Foggy Bottom Historic District is roughly bounded by 25th St., NW, on the east; New Hampshire Ave. and H St., NW, on the south; 26th St. on the west; and K St. on the north. Foggy Bottom is comprised primarily of private residences that are not open to the public. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom-GWU.
This elegant Federal town house, built in 1808, was home to Cleveland Abbe (1838-1916), father of the United States Weather Bureau, from 1877 to 1909. The house had previously been home to James Monroe while he was Secretary of State and War under President James Madison, and then again for the first six months of his own presidency from March through September of 1817. Abbe purchased the house a few years after moving to Washington, DC, to assume the position of Assistant Chief to the Signal Officer and direct the establishment and growth of the United States Weather Bureau. Abbe, a meteorologist, had recognized that with the expansion of the telegraph system a central location could be established to collect meteorological data from around the country and determine weather patterns upon which to base weather predictions. He worked with the Associated Press to put his idea to work in 1871, and because of his success was asked to head a new government agency concerned with weather conditions.
As head of the Weather Bureau, Abbe not only helped create an institution dedicated to an important branch of the earth sciences, but he also became a skilled and practiced advocate of the benefits of science in elite Washington political and beauracratic circles. Although he made important contributions to the profession of meteorology, publishing approximately 300 papers, Abbe was above all a teacher and propogandist who strove to gain public acceptance of the benefits and value of science. His own life spanned the period from science as natural history to science as sophisticated and specialized individual physical and biological disciplines. In acting as a public spokesman for the interests of science in an age of ever increasing specialization, Abbe helped secure society's support for an elite activity few Americans understood.
After Abbe's death in 1916, his family sold the house to the Arts Club of Washington, which has used the house for nearly a century. As the organization grew, the Arts Club established itself as a social and cultural center and it welcomed many of the important artists, musicians, performers and writers who visited the city.
The Cleveland Abbe House is located at 2017 I St., NW. Now the Arts Club of Washington, it is open to the public Tuesday-Friday from 10:00am to 5:00pm and Saturdays from 10:00am to 2:00pm. The Arts Club has three major public galleries, weekly concerts, monthly literary evenings and offers many free multidisciplinary cultural events for visitors. Call or visit the Arts Club website for further information.
Metro stop: Farragut West
The Octagon House, built between 1798 and 1800, was designed by Dr. William Thorton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol, and completed by 1800. Colonel John Tayloe, for whom the house was built, owned Mt. Airy plantation, located approximately 100 miles south of Washington in Richmond County, Virginia. Tayloe was reputed to be the richest Virginian plantation owner of his time, and built the house in Washington at the suggestion of George Washington. In 1814, Colonel Tayloe offered the use of his home to President and Mrs. Madison for a temporary "Executive Mansion" after the burning of the White House by the British. Madison, who used the tower room above the entrance as a study, signed the Treaty of Ghent there, which ended the War of 1812.
This three-story brick house, adapted to an irregular-shaped lot, displays a dramatic break with the traditional, late Georgian and early Federal house planning that preceded it. The Octagon achieves a zenith in Federal architecture in the United States, through its brilliant plan which combines a circle, two rectangles, and a triangle, and through the elegance and restraint of the interior and exterior decoration. The materials used in its construction, including beautiful sculptured mantels made of "coade stone," were brought from England.
The Octagon House became the home of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on January 1, 1899, and complete ownership of the property was acquired in the year 1902. The AIA still owns the building, but the institute is headquartered in a larger building located directly behind it. The house has undergone extensive renovation since 1996, culminating in efforts to restore it to its original period appearance.
The Octagon House is located at 18th St. and New York Ave. NW.
tours are available by appointment. The museum is open 1-4pm Thursday through Saturday for free, self-guided visits. Contact the museum at 202-626-7439 or visit the Octagon House website for further information. Metro stop: Farragut West
In 1902, the DAR commissioned New York architect Edward Pearse Casey to design an appropriate headquarters building and assembly hall in the Nation's Capital at 1776 D Street, NW. The Georgian Revival building of Vermont marble with monumental Ionic porticos was built between 1904-10. The meeting place for DAR conferences, it was the site of the Washington Arms Limitation Conference in 1921-22, one of the most significant international attempts to reduce global tension through disarmament and mutual pledges of arbitration.
Constitution Hall is located at 311 18th Street, NW and is
open to the public during performances. DAR
headquarters is located at 1776 D St., NW. The DAR headquarters,
library and museum are open Monday-Friday 8:30 am to 4:00 pm and
Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Museum tours are Monday through
Friday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Closed Saturday and Federal holiday
The Interior building is 7 stories with a basement (an additional floor between the 5th and 6th stories is devoted entirely to mechanical equipment). Above the central axis is a setback 8th story. The building is arranged into 6 east-west wings connected by a central north-south spine. This massing creates ten U-shaped courts, allowing each of the 2200 rooms an exterior exposure.
Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes (who established the Historic American Buildings Survey, now a program of the National Park Service) was so involved with the design and construction of the Interior building that when the building opened, it was referred to as "Ickes new home." Ickes personally selected Waddy Butler Wood as architect and worked very closely with him to ensure comfort and efficiency in the innovative new building.
The Interior building featured a number of 'firsts' for Federal buildings: the first to have a central vacuum cleaning system, one of the earliest to be air-conditioned, and one of the first to incorporate a parking garage in the building. The somewhat austere 'Moderne' exterior belies the interior's abundant artwork and ornamentation. The building's 3 miles of corridors are lined with many murals and sculpture. Six Native American artists painted more than 2200 square feet of murals.
The central corridor contains the Grand Staircase and has a checkered marble floor, bronze railings and a coffered plaster ceiling. A pair of marble bas reliefs by Boris Gilbertson adorn the walls: one of moose and the other of buffalo. The buffalo motif is found throughout the building including in the Departmental Seal and on the doorknobs of the Secretary of the Interior's Executive Suite. The Executive Suite has oak paneling with a marble fireplace. Besides offices, the building contains an auditorium, museum, Indian arts and crafts gift shop, library, post office and gymnasium-all part of the original design.
The U.S. Department of the Interior is located at 18th, 19th,
C and E Streets, NW. The building is open to the public Monday
through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.
In 1852, the Blairs moved back to the residence and constructed a house next door for Elizabeth Preston Blair, the only daughter of Francis Preston Blair. The two houses began to be used as one, almost as they are today. Montgomery Blair, son of Francis Preston Blair, resided in the house as well, and was a trusted advisor to President Lincoln before and during the Civil War. The Blairs opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and threw their weight to the free soil movement and the newly forming Republican Party. Montgomery Blair advised Lincoln on important matters such as the reinforcing of Fort Sumter and was instrumental from holding Maryland out of the Confederacy. At a conference at the Blair House in 1861, it was decided that Admiral Farragut would command the assault on New Orleans.
After the Civil War, Blair influence began to fade, but the prominence of the family continued to be recognized in Washington society. The house once again took on national recognition when, in 1942, it became the official residence of visiting dignitaries and served as a temporary home for President Harry S. Truman during the remodeling of the White House.
Blair House is located at 1651-1653 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. It is
not open to the public. Metro stop: McPherson Square.
The house was designed for Commodore Stephen Decatur who was at the height of his naval career when the house was constructed, and he and his wife, Susan Wheeler Decatur, wished to establish themselves in Washington society. The Decaturs lived on Lafayette Square only 14 months--Commodore Decatur was slain in a gentlemen's duel with Commodore James Barron on March 20, 1820.
The house's second great era was ushered in with its purchase in 1871 and occupancy by General and Mrs. Edward Fitzgerald Beale. Modifications made during the Beale years resulted in a rich Victorization of Latrobe's classical design. Upon Mrs. Beale's death in 1902, Decatur House became the property of their son Truxton and his wife, Marie Beale. Restoration in 1944 and again during the 1960s attempted to return the Decatur house to its original architectural appearance. Overtly threatened with destruction three times in the past, Decatur has served as an anchor in saving remaining historic buildings lining Lafayette Square. n 1956, Mrs. Marie Beale bequeathed Decatur House to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which operates the property as a house museum.
Decatur House is located at 748 Jackson Pl., NW. Beginning January 1, 2011 Scheduled tours of the Decatur House are discontinued in order to allow needed preservation and conservation efforts to proceed on the building. The gift shop will remain open to visitors and the operation of education programs and special event site rentals will not be affected.
Metro stop: Dupont Circle.
The Decatur House is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.
After the Civil War, Corcoran returned to Washington and pressed for the return of the art gallery, which was returned to his control on May 10, 1869. Corcoran immediately established a board of Trustees, and in 1870 the gallery was chartered by an act of Congress. After an extensive restoration, the gallery opened to the public on January 19, 1874. The collection quickly outgrew its building, however, and in 1897, the gallery moved to a larger building on 17th Street where it remains today. The Federal government first rented and then purchased the old gallery for use by the U.S. Court of Claims which occupied the building from 1899 to 1964. In 1965 S. Dillon Ripley, Secretary of the Smithsonian, met with President Johnson and requested that the building be turned over to the Smithsonian for use as a gallery of art, crafts and design. Restoration of the building for the Smithsonian began in 1967, and the building reopened as the Renwick Gallery in 1972.
Renwick Gallery is located at the corner of 17 St. and Pennsylvania
Ave., NW. The Renwick is open every day of the year, except December
25th, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Extended summer hours are determined
annually. Metro stop: McPherson Square.
The church was built in 1816 by Benjamin Latrobe, the noted architect who worked on the Capitol and the White House, as well as the Decatur House. The original Classical style church was built in the form of a Greek Cross, where each arm was equal in length. Latrobe conceived of his churches as meeting houses, with open preaching space unencumbered by piers and columns. As a result, he insisted on simplicity in architecture and a pulpit centrally located so that all might see. St. John's size soon proved inadequate for the growing congregation. In 1820, workmen extended the west transept arm and fronted it with a Roman Doric portico, which resulted in a Latin Cross form. Over time, further alterations, such as the triple-tiered steeple, significantly altered Latrobe's plan, but the original structure is still recognizable.
Having seen more than its share of national occasions as well as the roster of those who have worshiped in this church, its significance goes without saying. However, there are many notable treasures in the church such as the twenty-seven handsome memorial windows adorning the building. An 18th-century prayer book placed in the President's pew has been autographed by many of the Presidents. A silver chalice and a solid gold communion chalice, encrusted with jewels, are also among its treasures. St. John's is still a living parish in the heart of Washington, DC With its bright yellow stuccoed walls, and golden cupola and dome, St. John's is a lively ornament to Lafayette Square. The church stands as one of the few remaining original buildings left near Lafayette Park today.
St. John's Church is located at 16th and H Sts., NW at Lafayette Square in Washington, DC Every Sunday after the 11:00 am service, there is a guided tour of St. John's. The church is available for public visitation from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm everyday. Metro stop: McPherson Square.
Franklin Square is an active and bustling area of downtown Wsahington, DC. The Franklin School, completed in 1868 and designed by Adolph Cluss, is a focal point of the square. The school was a model of advanced design in its day and the scene of Alexander Graham Bell's first wireless message. On June 3, 1880, Bell sent a message over a beam of light to a window in a building at 1325 L Street, NW. The school trustees declared that the construction of such buildings as Franklin School "will do much to redeem us from the imputation so often made that the city of Washington is a mere dependent upon Government and that it does nothing itself for the advancement of its citizens." The Franklin School won prizes as the most modern schoolhouse design at both the Vienna and the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. The Franklin School has been renovated in recent years and is now used as private business offices.
Many historic places around Franklin Square no longer exist such as the house where Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of Little Lord Fauntleroy, lived at 1219 I Street and the Capitol Garage, constructed in 1926, that stood at 1312-1320 New York Avenue. However, historic places such as Franklin School and the Almas Temple remain, and along with the new, surrounding monumental office buildings make Franklin Square a dynamic and ecelectic area.
Franklin Square is a public park that is accessible to the public.
Lafayette Park has been used as a race track, a graveyard, a zoo, a slave market, an encampment for soldiers during the War of 1812, and many political protests and celebrations. The surrounding neighborhood became the city's most fashionable 18th century residential area - home to a number of Washington personalities including Lincoln's Secretary of State William Henry Seward and South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun. Andrew Jackson Downing landscaped Lafayette Square in 1851 in the picturesque style. Today's plan with its five large statues dates from the 1930's. In the center stands Clark Mills' equestrian statue of President Andrew Jackson, erected in 1853; in the four corners are statues of Revolutionary War heroes: France's General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette and Major General Comte Jean de Rochambaeu; Poland's General Thaddeus Kosciuszko; Prussia's Major General Baron Frederich Wilhelm von Steuben.
Buildings around Lafayette Square include: the White House, the Old Executive Office Building, the Department of the Treasury, St. John's Episcopal Church, the Blair-Lee House, Decatur House, and the Renwick Gallery.
Other buildings around Lafayette Square include:
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) building, 810 Vermont Avenue, that was built in 1916 on the site of the distinguished Arlington Hotel (1868-1913). Veterans Affairs runs the nation's largest hospital network, involving 170 hospitals nationwide;
The Hay-Adams Hotel, 16th and H Streets, named after two of Lafayette Square's most distinguished residents, John Milton Hay and Henry Brooks Adams, whose adjoining homes once occupied the site. Turkish-born Armenian architect Mirhan Mesrobian designed the 143-room hotel in 1927, using Rome's Farnese Palace as an inspiration for the Italian Renaissance exterior;
The New Executive Office Building, 722 Jackson Place, and the National Courts Building, 717 Madison Place, built in 1968-1969 on either side of the Square behind the existing historic buildings. John Carl Warnecke designed the 10-story structures to harmonize with Lafayette Square's historic character and retained the domestic facades but joined the separate interiors; and
The White House Historical Association, 740 Jackson Place, located in one of the five buildings constructed as part of the redevelopment of Lafayette Square in the 1960's. The Association is a non-profit historical and educational organization chartered in 1961 to enhance understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the White House. Since its founding, the White House Historical Association has contributed more than ten million dollars for the benefit of the White House.
Lafayette Square Park is located on H St. between 15th and 17th Sts., NW. A public park, it is accessible to the public. Metro stop: McPherson Square.
The Hay-Adams Hotel, located in Lafayette Square Park, is a Historic
Hotels of America member, a program of the National Trust for Historic
Expansion and further alterations were made when President Theodore Roosevelt declared the house unsafe to inhabit. He had the original building remodeled. By making the third-story attic into habitable rooms and adding the Executive Office wing and the East Gallery, Roosevelt separated his work space from his family life. In 1909, architect Nathan C. Wyeth extended the office wing adding the well-known oval office. Although used informally for some time, it was President Theodore Roosevelt who gave the White House its official name. Finally, the last major renovation took place when President Harry Truman decided that again the building was unsafe and had to be gutted. Steel replaced the original frame and paneling, and a balcony was added to the South Portico. The White House, an architectural symbol of the American presidency and the nation's power, remains a stylistically simple residence and an example of the stolid republican ideals of the Founding Fathers.
The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Tours of the White House are currently limited to parties of 10 or more people, requested through one's Member of Congress and will be accepted up to six months in advance. These self-guided group tours will be scheduled approximately one month before the requested date, from 7:30am to 11:30am Tuesday-Saturday, excluding Federal holidays. For the most current tour information, please call the 24-hour line at 202-456-7041. The National Park Service operates the White House Visitor Center, located at 15th and E Sts., NW, open daily from 7:30am until 4:00pm. Metro stop: McPherson Square
* The White House, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, and related
buildings and grounds are legally exempted from listing in the
National Register of Historic Places, according to the National
Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
Many celebrated national figures have participated in the historical events that have taken place within the Old Executive Office Building's granite walls. Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald Ford, and George Bush all had offices in this building before becoming President. It has housed 16 Secretaries of the Navy, 21 Secretaries of War, and 24 Secretaries of State. Winston Churchill once walked its corridors and Japanese emissaries met here with Secretary of State Cordell Hull after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. President Herbert Hoover occupied the Secretary of Navy's office for a few months following a fire in the Oval Office on Christmas Eve, 1929. In recent history Richard Nixon had a private office here during his presidency. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was the first in a succession of Vice Presidents to the present day that have had offices in the building. The Old Executive Office Building is next to the White House and can be viewed from the street.
The Old Executive Office Building (Eisenhower Executive Office Building) is located at 17th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Metro stop: Farragut North or Farragut West.
Corcoran founded the Gallery for the purpose of "encouraging American genius" in the arts and built the first Gallery to house his collection of paintings and statuary. The original building was restored and is now the Renwick Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Congress approved a public act incorporating the Trustees of the Corcoran Gallery and provided it with its charter in 1870. Mr. Corcoran then gave, in addition to the original building and grounds and his personal art collection, an endowment of $900,000 for the perpetual establishment and maintenance of the Gallery. He stipulated that the Gallery be opened without admission charge to the visitors at least two days a week. He then bequeathed an additional sum of $100,000 as an endowment for the Corcoran School of Art.
At the present day site, a second section of the building, known as the "Clark Wing," was built to house the collection of Montana Senator William Andrews Clark and financed by a grant from the Clark family. The Clark Wing was designed by Charles Adams Platt, who also designed the Freer Gallery of Art. A small section at the west end of the new wing was built at the same time at the Gallery's expense. The Clark Wing was inaugurated in 1928 with President Coolidge in attendance.
The permanent collection of the Gallery consists of well over 14,000 items, most of which are American. Its collections of European holdings are based primarily on the Clark collection mentioned above, and the Walker collection, from collectors Mary and Edward Walker. The Gallery houses the Corcoran School of Art, the only professional art school in the District of Columbia, as well as varied educational programs open to the public. Not only is the Corcoran an architectural achievement in the Beaux Arts tradition, but its continual dedication to art is a contribution to the cultural heritage of the nation's capital.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art is located at 17th St. and New York Ave., NW. It is open every day except Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. The museum is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Extended hours are Thursday evenings until 9:00 pm. Suggested contributions for admission to the Corcoran vary according to age and size of group. For more information please call 202/639-1700. Metro stop: Farragut West.
The Lockkeeper's House is located on the corner of 17th St. and Constitution Ave., NW. It is not open to the public. Metro stop: Farragut West
Later additions were made to the original wings, beginning with the construction of the south wing from 1855 to 1860 and the west wing from 1855- 1864. The preliminary design of the wings was provided by Thomas Ustick Walter, architect of the Capitol dome, but architects Ammi B. Young and Isaiah Rogers refined the plans, designed the interior details, and supervised construction. While the exterior of the building was executed along the lines of the original Mills wings, the interiors of the later wings reflect changes in both building technology and aesthetic tastes. Iron columns and beams reinforced the building's brick vaults; the architectural detailing became much more ornate, following mid-nineteenth century fashion. The final addition to the Treasury Building was the north wing, built from 1867 to 1869. Its architect was Alfred B. Mullett. Similar in construction and decor to the south and west wings, the north wing is unique as the site of the Cash Room -- a two-story marble hall in which the daily financial business of the U.S. Government was transacted. The room opened in 1869 as the site of President Grant's inaugural reception.
The Treasury Building is the oldest departmental building in Washington and has had a great impact on the design of other governmental buildings. At the time of its completion, it was one of the largest office buildings in the world. It served as a barracks for soldiers during the Civil War and as the temporary White House for President Andrew Johnson following the assassination of President Lincoln in 1865. The Treasury Building is unquestionably a monument of continuing architectural and historical significance. In acknowledgment of the building's significance, Treasury was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.
Guided tours of the building are available free of charge. The tour features restored spaces such as the 1864 Burglar-Proof Vault and the marble Cash Room. Also on the tour is the restored office of Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury during the Civil War and the temporary office used by President Andrew Johnson following Abraham Lincoln's assassination, which has been restored to its 1860s appearance.
The Treasury Building is located at 15th and H Sts., NW. Tours of the building have been suspended, for security reasons.
The new Willard, designed by New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and erected by the George A. Fuller Company, was hailed at its opening as Washington's first skyscraper. Completed in 1904, the new building saw an addition of 100 rooms in 1925, broadening the F Street facade by about 49 feet. The property remained in the Willard family until 1946, closed in 1968, and underwent extensive renovation, again opening its doors in 1986.
Presidents Taylor, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Lincoln, Grant, Taft, Wilson, Coolidge and Harding stayed at the Willard. Other notable guests have included Charles Dickens, Buffalo Bill, David Lloyd George, P.T. Barnum, Lord and Lady Napper and countless others. Walt Whitman included the Willard in his verses and Mark Twain wrote two books there in the early 1900s. It was Vice President Thomas E. Marshall, irritated at the Willard's high prices, who there coined the phrase "What this country needs is a good 5-cent cigar."
The Willard Hotel is located at 1401-09 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. For further information call 202/628-9100. Metro stop: Metro Center
The Warner Theater is located at 501 13th St., NW. It is open to the public during performances. For more information call 202/783-4000.
Ford's Theatre was the location of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on the night of April 14, 1865, while the President and Mrs. Lincoln were attending a performance of the play, "Our American Cousin." Actor John Wilkes Booth, in this first assassination of an American president, removed Lincoln from leadership at the end of the American Civil War. The old Ford's Theatre building was first constructed as the First Baptist Church in 1833. In 1859 the structure was abandoned as a place of worship, and in 1861 John T. Ford, a theatre entrepreneur from Baltimore, renovated the building. In December the theatre burned to the ground and in 1863 a more elaborate edifice was constructed. Ford's Theater is a three-story brick building with five arched doorways at street level. The exterior walls are the only portions remaining of the 19th century theatre. The National Park Service acquired the theatre in 1933, and the entire interior was reconstructed in the 1960s to recreate its historic appearance on the night of the assassination. The Petersen House is the house where Lincoln died. At the time of Lincoln's death, the house across from Ford's Theatre (now 516 10th Street) was owned by William A. Petersen, a German tailor. Petersen constructed the plain red brick three-story and basement townhouse in 1849. The Park Service acquired the house in 1933, and has maintained it as a historic house museum, recreating the scene at the time of Lincoln's death.
Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is located at 511 10th St., NW. It is open for tours from 9am to 5pm. The Box Office is open from 8:30am to 5pm. In the event of evening performances, the Box Office will remain open until 8pm. In the event of an evening History on Foot walking tour, the Box Office will remain open until the tour begins. The Petersen House is open from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Admission into Ford's Theatre National Historic Site is free, but a ticket is required. Metro stop: Gallery Place/Chinatown.
In 1875, the Le Droit Building at the SW corner of 8th and F Streets was erected. Designed by James McGill in the Italianate commercial style of its period, the Le Droit Building was intended exclusively for office use. Its first tenants included J. Bradley Adams and William H. Boyd (publisher of Boyd's Directory), a barber, two auctioneers, various agents, twenty lawyers and others, including the architect, James McGill until 1880. Further development resulted in 814 F Street which was built in 1875 or 1876. By 1877, J. Bradley Adams moved his book and stationery business from the Le Droit Building to this address. Soon after, in 1878, Adams erected the Adams Building at 816 F Street for his own use. It is believed that James McGill designed these buildings as well as the Le Droit Building. Adams built another building at 818 F Street in 1881, and its cast-iron front had an estimated cost of $4000.00. B.H. Warder then erected the Warder Building at the SE corner of 9th and F Streets in 1892. Designed by Washington architect, Nicholas T. Haller, this large building was intended for use as offices, apartments and stores. Haller maintained an office in the Warder Building for many years.
As the commercial core of the city moved to the west and northwest, the 800 Block of the south side of F Street became shabby and disused. In recent years, however, the block has slowly been revitalized by artists, shopowners and other businesses. The opening of the nearby MCI Arena in 1997 has once again made it a lively and active area.
Located at the 800 Block of F St., NW, the buildings are privately owned for commercial use and are not accessible to the public. Metro stop: Gallery Place/China Town. The
The Pension Building was built as a memorial to the Union soldiers, sailors, and marines of the Civil War. This memorial theme is carried out by the exterior frieze extending completely around the building depicting a parade of military Civil War units. The frieze was designed and sculpted by Bohemian-born Caspar Buberl. Likened to the Parthenon frieze, the Panathenaic Procession was meant to make a statement about the power of the military in American society. The building has national significance because it represents the Civil War generation's own memorial to the Civil War. It has further significance because it was built for and occupied by the Pension Bureau, the first Federal veterans agency to operate on a national scale. Finally, it is important because the building has been the scene of many Presidential inaugural balls beginning with Grover Cleveland in 1893 up to the present.
Now acknowledged as an engineering marvel, the Pension Building became the National Building Museum, created by an Act of Congress in 1980. The National Building Museum now serves as America's premier cultural institution dedicated to exploring and celebrating architecture, design, engineering, construction and urban planning.
The Pension Building is located at F St. between 4th and 5th Sts., NW. National Building Museum regular hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Saturday, and 11:00 am to 5:00 pm Sunday. Historic Building Tours are available daily at 11:30 am, 12:30 pm, and 1:30 pm. No reservations are required. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For more information please call 202-272-2448. Metro stop: Judiciary Square.
The L'Enfant Plan placed the Congress House (the US Capitol Building) on Jenkins Hill and the President's House (the White House) on a low ridge north of the mouth of Tiber Creek and connected them with a broad, diagonal avenue. The name Pennsylvania Avenue was first applied to this avenue by Thomas Jefferson in a 1791 letter, but no one is sure why it was named for the Keystone State. One theory holds that this was done in order to appease Pennsylvania, which would see the federal capital move from Philadelphia to Washington in 1800. Others hold that the city's diagonal avenues were named in a logical north to south progression. Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York Avenues lie north of Pennsylvania Avenue, while Maryland and Virginia Avenues lie to its south, just as these states do on a map of the United States.
Pennsylvania Avenue became Washington's first downtown street with shops, markets, and a financial district growing along it during the 19th century. However, at the end of the 19th century, and continuing into the 20th century, the Avenue became an eye sore to local residents with tattoo parlors, rooming houses, and cheap hotels lining the street. An early attempt at improving Pennsylvania Avenue occured when Congress authorized the construction of a new combined Post Office Department and City Post Office building at 12th St. and the Avenue in 1892. Designed in the Romanesque Revival style by Willoughby J. Edbrooke, the building was completed in 1899, and its 315 foot tall clock tower remains an Avenue landmark today. This building was followed in 1909 by the completion of the District Building at 14th St. and (what was then) E St. Designed by Cope and Stewardson in the Beaux Arts style made popular by the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1892, the building was constructed to house the District of Columbia government. Still in use by the District's government today, it too remains an Avenue landmark.
Due to the Avenue's then blighted state, Congress created the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation on October 27, 1972 to plan and carry out the Avenue's revitalization. Declaring its redevelopment to be in the national interest, Congress directed that the Avenue be developed, maintained, and used "in a manner suitable to its ceremonial, physical, and historic relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government and to the governmental buildings, monuments, memorials, and parks in or adjacent to the area." In 1964, the President's Council on Pennsylvania Avenue recommended all but the clock tower of the Old Post Office be torn down and a demolition permit was granted in 1971. Citizen protest saved the Old Post Office from the wrecking ball and led to a major rehabilitation of the building being authorized by Congress in 1977.
The Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site is located on Pennsylvania Avenue between the Capitol and the White House. The Old Post Office is located at 12th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. It is open from 8:00 am to 10:45 pm daily from Mid-April to Labor Day and 10:00 am to 5:45 pm the rest of the year.
The Federal Triangle is located between Pennsylvania Avenue, Constitution Avenue and 15th Street, NW and is part of the Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site. It is comprised of a unified group of important and prominent Federal office buildings. The 1926 Public Buildings Act, which permitted the Government to hire private architects for the design of Federal buildings, heralded the beginning of the country's largest public buildings construction program. Among the most significant early projects generated under the new legislation was the development of a 70-acre site (now known as the Federal Triangle) between the Capitol and the White House. U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon and a distinguished Board of Architectural Consultants, headed by Edward H. Bennett of the Chicago architectural firm of Bennett, Parsons, and Frost, developed design guidelines for the site.
Under Bennett's direction, each member of the Board of Architectural Consultants designed one of the buildings in the Federal Triangle complex. The goal of the project was to provide each Government agency or bureau with a building that would address its functional needs, while combining the individual buildings into a harmonious, monumental overall design expressive of the dignity and authority of the Federal Government. Limestone facades, red-tile hipped roof, and classically inspired colonnades are common features of the Federal Triangle buildings.
Located at 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, the Ariel Rios Federal Building, also known as the new Post Office, was designed by William Adams Delano and William T. Aldrich and constructed between 1931-1935. Inspired by the Place Vendome in Paris, the Ario Rios Federal Building was intended to be a central feature of the Federal Triangle. The central section of the tri-unit building is comprised of two huge, back to back, semi-circular units with side wings. The hemicycle formed by the building's curve was to be mirrored by a similarly curved façade built across 12th Street on the site of the Old Post Office Building. However, preservation efforts in the 1970's saved the Old Post Office from demolition and the second half of the grand plaza was never finished as designed. The Ariel Rios Federal Building's seven-story spiral marble staircase is a prominent element of the interior. A chandelier hangs in the center of the staircase and has exposed bulbs to illuminate each floor. It terminates in a dramatic chrome and brass globe.
The Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue was designed by Arthur Brown, Jr. and constructed between 1928--1934. Originally the Treasury Department Auditorium, the building was renamed for Andrew Mellon who oversaw the development of the Federal Triangle complex while serving as Secretary of the Treasury from 1921 to 1932.
The Mellon Auditorium is the central component of a three-part complex and is flanked by the Interstate Commerce Commission and the U.S. Customs Service (originally the Department of Labor). Arched, open portals topped by 45 foot tall columns connect the individual buildings. The monumental, temple-form building has a pedimented portico supported by six Doric columns. The sculpture within the pediment is Edgar Walter's Columbia.
The Auditorium was intended to remedy the Federal Government's lack of assembly space for large gatherings and ceremonial occasions which existed prior to its construction. The magnificent assembly room seats 2,500 and is the Government's largest auditorium for ceremonies, receptions, and other events. The rest of the building contains small meeting rooms, a series of offices, and lobbies. President Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the Selective Service System lottery in the Auditorium on October 29, 1940. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed here on April 4, 1949, with President Harry Truman, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and ministers of 11 other nations in attendance.
The Department of Commerce Building, officially known as the Herbert C. Hoover Building, is located at 14th Street and Constitution Avenue. Designed by Louis Ayres and constructed between 1927--1932, the Commerce Department building is named after President Hoover who served as Secretary of Commerce during the agency's early development. It was the largest office building in the world at the time of its completion in 1932.
The Hoover Building contains more than 3,300 rooms joined by unbroken corridors 1,000 feet long. Flexible partitions, rather than permanent walls, were a part of the original design for many of the offices to allow for inevitable changes in Departmental organization. Six interior courtyards provide light and air to the inner offices. The rectangular building measures approximately 320 ft east-west by 1020 ft north-south, and forms almost the entire west side of the Triangle from Constitution Avenue to E Street. There is a Doric colonnade on three sides. The 15th Street façade stretches almost 3 city blocks and has four pedimented pavilions featuring sculptures by James E. Fraser. The National Aquarium is located in the basement and has been open to the public since the building was completed in 1932. On the first floor, facing Pennsylvania Avenue, is the White House Visitors Center. It is located in the former Patent Search Room.
Located on a prominent trapezoidal lot bounded by Constitution and Pennsylvania Avenues and Ninth and Tenth Streets, the Department of Justice building was designed by the Philadelphia architectural firm Zantzinger, Borie and Medary and was constructed between 1931 and 1935. The Classical Revival style building is distinguished by Art Deco architectural elements and its innovative use of aluminum for details that were traditionally cast in bronze. All entrances to the building feature 20-foot-high aluminum doors that slide into recessed pockets. Interior stair railings, grilles, and door trims are aluminum, as are Art Deco torchères, doors for the building's 25 elevators, and more than 10,000 light fixtures. The two-story Great Hall features Art Deco light fixtures and a terra-cotta tile floor with gray marble borders. The Law Library, located on the fifth floor, is a two-story room distinguished by a pair of tall Art Deco lights and a 20-panel mural by Maurice Sterne. Fifty-seven sculptural elements designed by C. Paul Jennewein adorn the building. Sixty-eight murals completed between 1935 and 1941 depict scenes of daily life from throughout American history and symbolic interpretations or allegorical themes relating to the role of justice in our society.
Old Post Office Tower is open to the public during the summer from 8:00 am to 10:45 pm daily; Winter 10:00 am to 5:45 daily. For more information call 202/606-8691.
The National Aquarium (in the Hoover Building) is open daily (except Dec. 25th) from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information call 202/482-2825.
White House Visitors Center (in the Hoover Building)is open daily from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm. For more information call 202/208-1631.
Ariel Rios, Mellon Auditorium, Interstate Commerce Commission and U.S. Customs Service are working offices of the Federal civilian workforce. Public events are scheduled periodically.
Metro stop: Federal Triangle.
During the course of the 19th century, L'Enfant's formal design for the Mall was largely forgotten. During the Civil War, the Mall grounds were used for military purposes, such as bivouacking and parading troops, slaughtering cattle and producing arms. In 1872, at 6th and B Streets, a 14 acre tract was given to the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad for the construction of a depot. The railroad was also granted permission to lay tracks north to south across part of the Mall.
In 1851, President Millard Fillmore hired New York architect Andrew J. Downing to design a landscape plan for the Mall and the President's Park. This landscape was to provide a wild, natural disposition of trees, shrubbery and open lawns, but it was never fully carried out.
In 1902 the McMillan Commission submitted their report to Congress. Their plan called for the restoration, development, and supplementation of the "Grand Avenue" ideal proposed by L'Enfant. The core of the Mall was to be a broad grass carpet, typical of those in Europe, 300' in breath and running the entire length of the Mall grounds, bordered on each side by four rows of American elm trees. Public buildings were to border the whole, separated from the elms by narrow roadways. The railroad station was removed from the area in 1909.
The Mall is lined with a number of museums, contains two entrances for underground museums, and the Department of Agriculture.
In the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, the National Museum of the American Indian opened its doors to the public in 2004. The museum is the first national museum in the country dedicated exclusively to Native Americans. The curvilinear exterior of the building is clad in Kasota limestone and invokes natural rock formations that have been weathered by wind and water. Surrounding the building is an eastern lowland landscape amid numerous water features. Douglas Cardinal, a member of the Blackfoot Tribe, designed the museum.
The National Air and Space Museum was completed in 1976 and designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum. This is a monumental glass and granite building which contains 200,000 square feet and houses the Wright Brothers' Kitty Hawk plane as well as the Apollo II space capsule. In 1988 a restaurant designed by the same firm was added to the east side of the building.
The Joseph Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden was designed in 1974 by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. (Gordon Bundshaft, architect in charge) Lester Collins designed the sculpture garden in 1981. This round, concrete building, 231 feet in diameter houses one of the country's greatest collections of contemporary sculpture and painting. The garden, which is sunken, provides a pleasant oasis for viewing more of the collection. The Arts and Industries Building, a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1879-81 and designed by Cluss and Schulze, with Montgomery C. Meigs. This is a well-preserved example of 19th century "exposition" type of architecture. It was built to house the international exhibits left over from the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876, and is a fanciful construction of polychrome brick.
The Smithsonian or "Castle" Building is the earliest building on the Mall and was designed by James Renwick and built in 1847-55 with alterations by Adolph Cluss after a fire in 1865. The Gothic Revival 'Castle' building was built of local Seneca sandstone. It was named for James Smithson, an Englishman who willed his entire fortune to the US, in order to found "an establishment for the increase and diffusion of Knowledge among men."
The Quadrangle Museums Project was designed in 1987 by Shepley, Bullfinch, Richardson and Abbott. The quadrangle opens south from the Castle building and contains two small buildings which are staging areas for two underground museums, the Sackler Gallery of Asian Art, and the National Museum of African Art, and another smaller kiosk-like building which provides the entrance for the S. Dillon Ripley Center. The buildings are placed in the Enid A. Haupt Garden which is centered around a diamond-shaped 19th century parterre.
The Freer Gallery of Art was designed in 1923 by Charles A. Platt and is a Neo-classical building housing Charles Lang Freer's collection of the painting and sculpture of Asia and 20th century American artists, particularly James A. McNeill Whistler.
The Department of Agriculture was built in 1905 and designed by Rankin, Kellogg and Crane. This was the first building constructed on the Mall after the issuance of the McMillan Commission Report. It took the intervention of President Theodore Roosevelt to keep the building from the middle of the Mall. The National Museum of American History was designed in 1964 by Steinman, Cain and White and is a nondescript building which houses a fascinating variety of exhibits. The National Museum of Natural History was designed in 1911 by Hornblower and Marshall and the wings were added in 1965 designed by Mills, Petticord and Mills. This neoclassical building is the first building on the north side of the Mall to comply with the strictures of the McMillan Commission. It houses a variety of exhibits including one which features the Hope Diamond, and has recently installed an IMAX theater.
The National Gallery of Art (West Building) was designed by John Russell Pope in 1941. This building, designed in the neoclassical idiom, relates well to both the Natural History Museum and the Federal Triangle. The National Gallery is not part of the Smithsonian Institution. It was founded by Andrew Mellon who bequeathed his impressive collection of art and sculpture as well as a generous endowment for its operation. The Sculpture Garden located to the west of the Museum and designed by the Olin Partnership opened in the spring of 1999. The National Gallery of Art (East Wing) was designed in 1978 by I.M. Pei and Partners. This elegant building is based on a triangular module. The marble used on the building is from the same quarry as the West Building.
Adjacent to the Mall along 14th Street, can be found the Auditors Main Building (Bureau of Printing and Engraving) designed in 1880 by James G. Hill. This dark red-brick building provides a strong contrast to the neoclassical buildings in the vicinity, especially the Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum designed in 1993 by Pei Cobb Freed and Partners is the American government's memorial to the Holocaust. This strong design provides a stark contrast to its more staid neighbors.
The National Mall is accessible to the public. Click on the National Park Service National Mall and Memorial Parks website for information on visiting the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial. A National Park Service Ranger Station is located on the Washington Monument grounds and is open from 8 am until midnight. For more information on ranger programs and National Mall activities call 202-426-6841. Visit the Parks & History Association's virtual tour of the FDR Memorial, one of the newest additions to the National Mall. Metro stop: Smithsonian
The Lincoln Memorial, administered by the National Park Service, is on the west end of National Mall, located in West Potomac Park, in line with the US Capitol and the Washington Monument, bordered by Constitution, Independence Aves. and the Reflecting Pool. The memorial is open 8:00 am to 11:45 pm everyday except Christmas. Metro stop: Smithsonian
In an elaborate Fourth of July ceremony in 1848, the cornerstone was laid. Lack of funds and the illegal election which placed the Washington National Monument Society in the hands of the Know-Nothings, a political party, caused delay. Although the Know-Nothings returned all records to the original society in 1858, the latter could accomplish little without funding. The outbreak of Civil War of 1861 exacerbated the society's difficulties with fund-raising efforts. When Lt.Col.Thomas L.Casey, Mills' successor, resumed work on the project in 1876, he heavily altered the original design for the monument so that it resembled an unadorned Egyptian obelisk with a pointed pyramidion. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of the War Department was charged with completing the construction, and the monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885, and officially opened to the public on October 9, 1888.
Weighing 81,120 tons, the Washington Monument stands 555' 5-1/8" tall. The walls of the monument range in thickness from 15' at the base to 18'' at the upper shaft. They are composed primarily of white marble blocks from Maryland with a few from Massachusetts, underlain by Maryland blue gneiss and Maine granite. A slight color change is perceptible at the 150' level near where construction slowed in 1854. Inserted into the interior walls are 193 memorial stones presented by individuals, societies, cities, States, and nations of the world. Attached to in independent iron framework, flights of 896 steps surround an elevator which takes visitors to the observation level, where they can gaze over the city from the monument's pyramidion windows.
In 1996, the Washington Monument Restoration Project was kicked off with Target Stores joining the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation to help restore this national treasure. Guaranteeing $1 million, Target served as the lead sponsor working with the foundation to raise awareness and an additional $4 million in donations from corporate partners. The restoration included constructing scaffolding for the entire 555-foot, 5 1/8-inch monument; sealing 500 feet of exterior and interior stone cracks; pointing 64,000 linear feet of exterior joints; cleaning 59,000 square feet of interior wall surface; sealing eight observation windows and eight aircraft warning lights; repairing 1,000 square feet of chipped and patched stone; pointing 3,900 linear feet of interior joints; and preserving and restoring 1932 interior commemorative stones. The project was completed in 2000.
The Washington Monument is closed for repairs due to an earthquake on August 23, 2011. Visit the Washington Monument homepage for more information. Metro stop: Smithsonian
The Washington Monument is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page.
In 1941, Rudolph Evans was commissioned to sculpt the statue of Thomas Jefferson. The statue of Jefferson looks out from the interior of the Memorial toward the White House. It was intended to represent the Age of Enlightenment and Jefferson as a philosopher and statesman. The bronze statue is 19 feet tall and weighs five tons. Adolph A. Weinman's sculpture of the five members of the Declaration of Independence drafting committee submitting their report to Congress is featured on the triangular pediment. Also noteworthy, and adorning the interior of the Memorial, are five quotations taken from Jefferson's writings that illustrate the principles to which he dedicated his life.
Few major changes have been made to the Memorial since its dedication in 1943. The most important change to note is the replacement of the plaster model statue of Thomas Jefferson by the bronze statue after the World War II restrictions on the use of metals were lifted. Each year the Jefferson Memorial plays host to various ceremonies, including annual Memorial exercises, Easter Sunrise Services and the ever-popular Cherry Blossom Festival. The Jefferson Memorial is administered and maintained by the National Park Service.
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial is located on the south bank of the Tidal Basin near downtown Washington, DC It is open daily from 8:00 am until 11:45 pm every day except Christmas Day. For more information call 202/426-6841. There are no fees to visit the Memorial. Metro stop: Smithsonian.
George Washington Parke Custis inherited the 1100-acre estate from his father, the only surviving son of Martha Washington. Like John Parke Custis, G.W.P. Custis was raised at Mount Vernon, and he dedicated much of his life to perpetuating the memory of George Washington.
He commissioned George Hadfield, the second architect of the US Capitol to design Arlington House. It was designed in 1818, and is the third representation of Greek Revival architecture in the United States. In 1803, Custis had constructed two wings, and Hadfield's design was erected between them. The house was constructed of locally made brick and its most prominent feature is the large 16' by 52' portico across the central section. The portico is formed by eight large stuccoed and marbleized brick Doric columns that support a massive central pediment. The house, sited prominently atop the hill, can be seen from many points in the District of Columbia.
Robert E. Lee, who was related to Custis's wife, was a frequent visitor to Arlington from childhood until his marriage to Custis's only daughter, Mary. For the next 30 years, the Lees considered Arlington their home. In the Lee bedroom on April 19, 1861, Lee made his fateful decision to resign his US Army commission rather than take up arms against his native state following Virginia's secession from the Union. On April 22, he left Arlington forever.
In 1863 Congress levied a tax on all confiscated properties, but payment was rejected for Arlington. It was put up for sale for non-payment of taxes in January of 1864 and purchased by the US government. In May 1864, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton ordered that a national cemetery be established at Arlington, and the first burials took place that month.
In 1928, following its authorization by Congress as a memorial to Lee, the house began to be restored by the War department. In 1933 the house and immediate grounds were transferred to the National Park Service. By that time, some structural changes made since 1861 had been reversed and many rooms had been partially furnished. Since, then further restoration has been completed.
Arlington House is located in Arlington, Va., just across Memorial Bridge from the Lincoln Memorial. Check with your ranger at the door to see if guided tours will be offered during your visit. In lieu of a free guided tour, self-guided tours and audio (cell phone) tours of the house will be available during your visit. Arlington House is open to visitors every day from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with the exception of January 1st and December 25th when the Arlington National Cemetery is also closed. Metro stop: Arlington Cemetery.
Widely regarded as Washington's most beautiful bridge, Memorial Bridge symbolically links North and South in its alignment between the Lincoln Memorial and Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial. The adjacent Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway terminus, the Watergate steps, and monumental equestrian statuary join with the bridge in constituting a formal western terminus of the great Washington Mall composition at the edge of the Potomac. The bridge axis, angled southwesterly from the east-west Mall axis, is carried on Memorial Avenue across the Boundary Channel Bridge to the Virginia shore. There it terminates at the Arlington Hemicycle, keystone of the grand renaissance gateway to Arlington National Cemetery and now the location of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. This Memorial and museum, located in the Hemicycle, was designed in 1989 by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi, and is now open to the public. The project has restored the Hemicycle in a very sensitive manner. Arlington House rises as the focal point on the hill above.
The entire composition was designed by the prominent architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White. The low, Neo-classical bridge is 2,163 feet long; nine broad arches carry the bridge across the river. Except for the draw span, the bridge is of reinforced concrete construction faced with dressed North Carolina granite ashlar.
Flanking the eastern ends of the bridge and parkway are two pairs of monumental Neo-classical equestrian sculpture on identical pedestals. "The Arts of War" by Leo Friedlander stands at the end of the bridge. In "Valor" on the left, the male equestrian is accompanied by a female striding forward with a shield; in "Sacrifice" a standing female symbolizing the earth looks up to the rider Mars. "The Arts of Peace" by James Earle Fraser flanks the end of the parkway. "Music and Harvest" consists of a winged horse, Pegasus, between a male figure with a bundle of wheat and a sickle and a woman with a harp. In "Aspiration and Literature," another Pegasus is flanked by figures holding a book and a bow. The statues, approximately 17 feet tall are of gilded bronze. They were commissioned in 1925, but were not erected until 1951.
Memorial Bridge runs across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial to Arlington House in Virginia. Metro stop: Arlington Cemetery
The first Secretary of the Smithsonian, Joseph Henry, lived in the east wing of the building with his family, starting in 1849, during the initial construction period. For many years the building, also known as the Castle, housed all of the Smithsonian operations, including an exhibit hall from 1858 until the 1960s. Over the years several reconstructions have taken place. The first followed a fire on January 24, 1865, which destroyed the upper story of the main segment and the north and south towers. In 1884, the east wing was fireproofed and enlarged to accommodate more offices.
Today, the Castle houses the Institution's administrative offices and the Smithsonian Information Center. Located inside near the north entrance is the crypt of James Smithson, benefactor of the Institution, while outside on the Mall, a bronze statue, executed by William Wetmore Story, honors Joseph Henry. The Smithsonian is composed of 16 museums and galleries and the National Zoo and numerous research facilities in the United States and abroad, holding some 140 million artifacts and specimens in its trust. Nine Smithsonian museums are located on the National Mall between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. A three-level underground building houses two museums of African and Asian Art and the S. Dillon Ripley Center, which includes the International Gallery, offices, and classrooms. Six other museums and the Zoo are elsewhere in Washington, DC, and both the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and a branch of the National Museum of the American Indian are in New York City.
The Smithsonian Institution Building is located at 1000 Jefferson Dr., SW. It is open every day of the year, except December 25th, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Extended summer hours are determined annually. Metro stop: Smithsonian
The National Archives are located at 8th St. and Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Research hours are Monday and Wednesday from 8:45 am to 5:00 pm; Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8:45 am to 9:00 pm; and Saturday 8:45 am to 4:45 pm. The Exhibit Hall is open every day except December 25. Winter hours are 10:00 am to 5:30 pm and summer (April 1 to Labor Day) hours are 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
An example of 19th-century neoclassical architecture, the Capitol evokes the ideals that guided the Founding Fathers as they developed the new republic. Pierre Charles L'Enfant was expected to design the Capitol, but his dismissal in 1792 due to his refusal to cooperate with the Commissioners of the Federal Buildings, resulted in other plans. A competition was suggested by Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and President George Washington that would award $500 and a city lot to whomever produced the winning plan by mid-July. None of the 17 plans submitted were satisfactory. In October, a letter arrived from Dr. William Thornton, a Scottish-trained physician living in the British West Indies, requesting an opportunity to submit his plan after the competition was closed. The Commissioners granted his request and President Washington commended the plan that was soon accepted by the Commissioners.
The cornerstone was laid by President Washington on September 18, 1793. Because of Thornton's inexperience, the initial work progressed under the direction of three architects in succession. Stephen H. Hallet and George Hadfield were dismissed because of inappropriate design changes they tried to impose; James Hoban, winner of the competition for the President's House, was placed in charge and saw to the completion of the north wing for the first session of Congress on November 17, 1800. In 1803, construction resumed under Benjamin Henry Latrobe who completed the south and north wings. By 1813, Latrobe, with his job done, departed with the wings connected by a temporary wooden passageway.
On August 24, 1814, British troops set fire to the building during the War of 1812. A rainstorm prevented its complete destruction and Latrobe returned to Washington in 1815 to make repairs. He took this opportunity to make changes to the building's interior design and to introduce new materials, such as marble. Latrobe, however, resigned his post in November of 1817 because of construction delays and increasing costs. Charles Bulfinch, a Boston architect, was appointed Latrobe's successor in January of 1818. Continuing the restoration, he was able to make the chambers of the Senate and House, as well as the Supreme Court, ready for use by 1819. Bulfinch redesigned the central section, making the dome that topped the section higher. Bulfinch spent his last couple of years on the Capitol's landscaping and decoration until his position was terminated in 1829.
By 1850, the Capitol could no longer accommodate the increasing numbers of senators and representatives. Another competition was held offering $500 for the best plan to extend the Capitol. Unable to decide between the plans, Congress divided the money between five architects and Thomas U. Walter was chosen to complete the task. Walter supervised the construction of the extensions, making sure they were compatible with the existing style of the building, but using marble for the exterior instead of sandstone, which deteriorates quickly. As the wings progressed, they more than doubled the length of the Capitol making the dome too small for the new proportions. In 1856, the old dome was removed and work began on a replacement with a new, fireproof cast-iron dome. Construction was suspended in 1861 so that the Capitol could be used as a military barracks, hospital and bakery for the Civil War. However, in 1862, construction resumed, because Lincoln believed that the Capitol must go on, just as the Union must go on.
The work on the dome and extensions was completed in 1868 under Edward Clark, who had served as Walter's assistant until his resignation in 1865. Clark held the post of Architect of the Capitol until his death in 1902. Considerable modernization occurred during his tenure, as well as the construction of the marble terraces on the north, west, and south sides of the Capitol. The terraces were constructed as part of the grounds plan devised by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted. After a fire in November 1898, the need for fireproofing became evident. Elliot Woods, Clark's successor, saw to the reconstruction and fireproofing of the damaged wing.
The 20th century has seen even further changes for the Capitol. Under the direction of J. George Stewart, the appointed Architect of the Capitol, the East front extension added 102 more rooms from 1959 to 1960. The stonework was also changed from sandstone to Georgia marble during the process. After a public protest at further plans to expand in the 1970s, the plans were dismissed and the vote went to restore, rather than enlarge, the West Front. Since then, primary emphasis has been on strengthening, renovating and preserving the building.
Today, the Capitol covers a ground area of 175,170 square feet and has a floor area of about 16.5 acres. In addition to its use by Congress, the Capitol is a museum of American art and history. It stands as a focal point of the government's legislative branch and as a centerpiece of Capitol Hill and the National Mall.
The Capitol is located on Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall. The Capitol Visitor center, the new main entrance to the U.S. Capitol, is located on the East front at First Street and East Capitol Street, NE. The Capitol Visitor Center is open to visitors from 8:30am to 4:30pm Monday through Saturday except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and Inauguration Day. Tours of the U.S. Capitol are conducted from 8:50am to 3:20pm Monday through Saturday. Visitors with official business appointments may enter the Vistor Center as early as 7:15am. Admission to the U.S. Capitol Vistor Center is free. However, passes are required for tours of the U.S. Capitol and may be needed for other special events. All visitors to the U.S. Capitol are required to go through security screening. Tours of the U.S. Capitol need to be scheduled in advance through the Advance Reservation System or through the office of one your Senators or your Representative. For further information, please call 202-226-8000 or visit the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center's website. Metro stop: Capitol South or Union Station.
* The White House, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, and related buildings and grounds are legally exempted from listing in the National Register of Historic Places, according to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
These first congressional office buildings are a set of nonidentical neoclassical twins that provide a visually appealing background for the United States Capitol. Both buildings are the oldest of the congressional office buildings, as well as fine examples of the Beaux Arts style of architecture. They were constructed after the turn of the century to relieve the overcrowding in the Capitol. Previously, House and Senate members had to rent quarters or borrow space if they wanted office space. The prominent New York architectural firm of Carrere and Hastings was retained for construction in April 1904. Thomas Hastings oversaw the construction of the House Office Building while John Carrere took charge of the Senate Office Building.
The Russell Building was occupied in 1909 by the Senate of the 61st Congress. Rapid growth over the next 20 years resulted in an addition, the First Street Wing. In 1972, the building was named for the former Senator Richard Brevard Russell. The Russell Caucus Room retained its original 1910 benches and settles (long wooden seats with high backs) decorated with intricately carved eagles. The room has been used for several significant hearings on matters such as the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, Watergate in 1974, and the nomination of US Justice Clarence Thomas in 1991.
The Cannon Building was occupied in December 1907 by the 60th Congress. The House outgrew the office space by 1913 and 51 rooms were added to the original building by raising the roof and adding a fifth floor. In 1962, the building was named for the former Speaker Joseph Gurney Cannon.
Both buildings were designed with the Capitol in mind so as not to compete visually with the main building. They are connected underground to the Capitol by passageways. Upon their completion, the Cannon and Russell Buildings became classic models, copied in the city of Washington, DC as well as around the country.
The Cannon House Office Building is located at Independence and New Jersey Aves., NE. The Russell Senate Office Building is located at Delaware and Constitution Aves., NE. Both buildings are open to the public during normal office hours while Congress is in session. For more information on touring the Capitol Complex, please call 202/225-6827. Cannon Metro stop: Capitol South; Russell Metro stop: Union Station
* The White House, U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, and related
buildings and grounds are legally exempted from listing in the
National Register of Historic Places, according the National Historic
Preservation Act of 1966.
The terminal quickly became a center of Washington life, but at no time was it busier than during World War II, when as many as 200,000 people passed through in a single day. Like most American railroad stations, its financial and physical condition deteriorated after the war as train travel declined. In the 1960s and 1970s the Federal government tried unsuccessfully to make it into a visitor center. The station reopened in its present form in 1988 with shops, restaurants, and movie theaters occupying the original building, and a new Amtrak terminal at the back. Today Union Station is again one of Washington's busiest and best-known places, visited by 20 million people each year.
Union Station is located at 50 Massachusetts Ave., NE. Store hours are Monday through Saturday 10:00 am to 9:00 pm and Sunday from noon to 6:00 pm. The shops at Union Station are closed New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. For more information call 202/289-1908. Metro stop: Union Station.
The historic district consists of most of the original campus which was planned in 1866 by Olmsted, Vaux & Co. This leading late 19th century landscape and architecture firm felt that since the college's students lacked the ability to hear extra care should be taken so that "the senses of sight and smell are gratified in a most complete and innocent way." Gallaudet College's romantic informal plan was one of the firm's earliest collegiate works.
The 1866 plan divided the campus into two parts separated by a large green. At the east are the academic buildings and at the west are a row of faculty residences. The 'Main Central Building' at the College, Chapel Hall, is one of the finest examples of post-Civil War collegiate architecture in the US and is the focal point of this college. It is a picturesque, brownstone, High Victorian Gothic designed by Frederick C. Withers of the leading mid-nineteenth century firm of Vaux,Withers and Co. Chapel Hall is in the Ruskinian Gothic Revival style which was popular in the 1870s, but it exhibits a restraint and fine handling of materials which creates a subdued coloristic harmony unusual in buildings in this polychrome style. College Hall is a fine example of polychrome High Victorian Gothic Revival architecture and was included in the 1866 plan. The east wing, designed by architect E.S. Friedrich, was erected in 1866. The main block of the building was designed by Withers and erected in 1874-1877.
Gallaudet University is located on Florida Ave. between 6th and 9th Sts., NE . Guided tours of the University are scheduled from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Please schedule visits two or three weeks ahead of time. You can schedule your visit by calling the Visitors Center at 202-651-5050, 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday or send an e-mail to: email@example.com. The University is not within close proximity to a Metro station.
Historic Congressional Cemetery was founded in 1807 by eight civic-minded residents of the new Capitol Hill neighborhood who recognized the need for a local burial ground. Its first burials included the master stone mason of the new United States Capitol building, the wife of the Navy Yard Commandant, Senator Uriah Tracy and the infant daughter of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, architect of the Capitol. In 1812, the cemetery was deeded to Christ Church † Washington Parish, and over the next 100 years it grew from 4.5 to 37.75 acres.
Among those buried at Congressional Cemetery are 16 Senators, 68 members of the House, and Vice Presidents Elbridge Gerry and George Clinton. Congressional Cemetery is also the final resting place of many other notables including Tobias Lear, personal secretary to George Washington; Commodore Thomas Tingey, first commandant of the Washington Navy Yard; Generals Jacob J. Brown and Alexander Macomb of the U.S. Army; General Archibald Henderson, commandant of the Marine Corps for thirty years; William Thornton, architect of the U.S. Capitol, and Robert Mills, architect of the Washington Monument. Several prominent Native Americans who died in Washington during diplomatic missions were buried at Congressional Cemetery, including Push-ma-ta-ha, Chief of the Choctaws, who held the rank of General in the U.S. Army, and Kan-Ya-Tu-Duta (Scarlet Crow), a delegate of the Dakota Sioux nation. More recent burials include Matthew Brady, Civil War photographer; Belva Lockwood, first woman to practice law before the Supreme Court; John Philip Sousa, conductor of the U.S. Marine Band; and J. Edgar Hoover, first director of the FBI.
Built with money from Congress, the public receiving vault at Congressional Cemetery temporarily held the remains of Presidents John Q. Adams, William H. Harrison, and Zachary Taylor, as well as First Ladies Dolley Madison and Louisa Adams.
The cemetery has a fine collection of 19th century tombs in various styles, materials, and forms. Particularly significant among the monuments are the striking memorials designed for members of Congress by Benjamin Henry Latrobe. These monuments were placed in memory of members of Congress who died while in office between 1807 and 1878, some of whom were buried elsewhere – hence the common reference to Latrobe's monuments as "cenotaphs" (empty grave).
Congressional Cemetery is located at 1801 E Street, SE, on Capitol Hill. The grounds are open every day from dawn to dusk. Free tours are given every Saturday from 11:00am to 1:00pm from April to October, and 10 theme self-guided walking tours are available at the visitor center and on the website. Metro stop: Potomac Avenue.
This house was the residence of Dr. Ralph Bunche, the distinguished African American diplomat and scholar, from 1941 to 1947. The home was designed for him by Hilyard R. Robinson, a noted Washington architect, in the International Style. Ralph Johnson Bunche is internationally known as a scholar who served as Undersecretary-General of the United Nations and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949. Between 1929 and 1941, Bunche lived in several Washington, DC h omes, l ocated in the general vicinity of the Howard University campus. While serving as a full professor at Howard University, Bunche commissioned Hilyard R. Robinson to design a home in the Brookland area. The family moved into the completed house in 1941. Architect Hilyard Robinson, the designer of the house, was the most prolific and successful black architect in Washington, DC prior to his retirement in the 1960s. He was greatly influenced by the European urban planning, post-war housing developments, and Modernism which he studied. Among Robinson's notable works in Washington are Langston Terrace, and several campus buildings at Howard University. The straightforward and refined residence served the Bunche family for six years and is associated with the early career and accomplishments of Dr. Bunche.
The Ralph Bunche House is located in the Brookland neighborhood. A private residence, it is not open to the public.
The Capitol Hill Historic District takes its name from the hill, which rises in the center of the Federal City and extends eastward. This hill, which in 1790 was called Jenkins Hill or Jenkins Heights, was the site chosen by Pierre L'Enfant for the placement of the "Congress House," a site which L'Enfant characterized as a "pedestal waiting for a superstructure." In accordance with this plan, the US Capitol Building was situated upon the crest of the hill facing the city. Stretching easterly behind the Capitol Building along wide avenues lies the residential area known as Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill, one of the oldest residential communities in Washington, has grown from a small boarding house community for members of Congress to an area of more than 150 squares embracing a number of separate neighborhoods.
In the early years of the Republic few Congressmen wished to establish permanent residence in the city. Instead, most preferred to live in boarding houses within walking distance of the Capitol. Nothing remains of this community, and the area closest to the Capitol contains the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the House and Senate Office buildings.
Capitol Hill is the largest residential historic district in the District of Columbia. Almost every street is composed of rowhouses of different stylistic varieties and periods forming a continuous wall broken only by street intersections. Side by side exist early 19th century manor houses, Federal townhouses, small frame dwellings, ornate Italianate bracketed houses and the late 19th century press brick rowhouses with their often whimsical decorative elements combining Richardsonian Romanesque, Queen Anne, and Eastlakian motifs. One of the more interesting houses is the Sewell-Belmont House, perhaps one of the oldest houses in the city and rebuilt after the War of 1812. Interspersed with the rowhouses are churches, which serve the community such as Christ Church and St. Mark's.
The street pattern in Capitol Hill has remained faithful to the original 1791 L'Enfant Plan for the Federal City, a plan that called for grand diagonals superimposed over a standard grid pattern. East Capitol Street, a monumental avenue running east from the Capitol to the banks of the Anacostia River, still provides a major focus for the area and serves as the division between the northeast and southeast sectors of the city. The eastern edge of the historic district terminates at the East Capitol Street Carbarn, now an adaptive use project featuring g apartments, but which represents the end of the trolley tracks and the end of much of the nineteenth century development. Pennsylvania Avenue, another prominent diagonal street, contains a lively commercial corridor with shops, banks and restaurants. Another lively area is Eastern Market that still provides meats, fish and produce in an unpretentious ambiance. Capitol Hill attracted a stable, unpretentious middle class citizenry whose modest yet imaginative housing typifies the historic district and gives it its character and identity.
The Capitol Hill Historic District is bounded by Virginia Ave., SE.; S. Capitol and F Sts., NE.; and 4th Sts., SE & NE. Most of the buildings are private residences and not open to the public. Metro stops: Union Station, E. Capitol, and Eastern Market.
At the laying of the cornerstone for the building on October 13, 1932, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes stated, "The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith." The building was designed on a scale in keeping with the importance and dignity of the Court and the Judiciary as a coequal, independent branch of the Federal government and as a symbol of "the national ideal of justice in the highest sphere of activity." Sixteen marble columns at the main west entrance support the portico and on the architrave above is incised, "Equal Justice Under Law." Capping the entrance is the pediment filled with a sculpture group by Robert Aitken, representing Liberty Enthroned Guarded by Order and Authority. Cast in bronze, the west entrance doors sculpted by John Donnelly, Jr., depict historic scenes in the development of the law. The east entrance's architrave bears the legend, "Justice the Guardian of Liberty." A sculpture group by Herman A. McNeil is located above the east entrance that represents great lawgivers, Moses, Confucius, and Solon, flanked by symbolic groups representing Means of Enforcing the Law, Tempering Justice with Mercy, Carrying on Civilization, and Settlement of Disputes Between States.
The Supreme Court Building is located at 1st and East Capitol Sts., NE. Self-guided exhibits on the main level are available for touring Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Lectures on the Supreme Court are presented on the main level every hour on the half-hour, Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. For more information call, 202/479-3000.
* The White House, U.S. Supreme Court Building, U.S. Capitol, and related buildings and grounds are legally exempted from listing in the National Register of Historic Places, according the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
Authorized in 1886, the first separate Library of Congress building, the Jefferson Building, was opened to the public in 1897. The Library's design was based on the Paris Opera House and was unparalleled in national achievement. Its 23-carat gold-plated dome capped the "largest, costliest, and safest" library building in the world. More than 40 painters and sculptors decorated the facade and interior making it surpass European libraries in its devotion to classical culture. John L. Smithmeyer and Paul J. Pelz submitted the plans chosen by Congress for the design. Both architects were dismissed and the building's completion came under Gen. Edward Pearce Casey and civil engineer Bernard R. Green. The building stands today as a unique blend of art and architecture and is recognized as a national treasure.
In 1928, Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam urged Congress to purchase the land directly east of the Library's Main Building (the Jefferson Building) for the construction of an Annex Building. In 1930, money was appropriated for its construction as well as a tunnel connecting it to the main building. The simple classical structure with Art Deco detailing was intended as a functional book stack with work spaces. It was designed by Pierson & Wilson, a Washington architectural firm, with Alexander Buel Trowbridge as consulting architect. The building was opened to the public on January 3, 1939. Now known as the Adams Building after John Adams, who approved the law establishing the Library of Congress, the impressive structure has the potential to house 10,000,000 books.
Today's James Madison Memorial Building was authorized in 1965, but not completed until 1981. President Ronald Reagan participated in the dedication ceremonies. The building serves as the Library's third major building, and as a memorial to James Madison, the "father" of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as well as the fourth president of the United States. The Madison Building was designed by the firm of DeWitt, Poor and Shelton Associated Architects. It is one of the three largest public buildings in the Washington, DC, area and contains 2,100,000 square feet. The building houses administrative offices, the Congressional Research Service, the Law Library, the Office of the Librarian as well as the Copyright Office and eight reading rooms.
Now the Library of Congress is one of the largest and best-equipped libraries in the world. It houses approximately 90 million items on 540 miles of shelves. The Library has far exceeded its mission to make its resources available and useful to the United States Congress and the American people as well as to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The Library of Congress glorifies the American contribution to world knowledge, and the buildings stand as monuments to the people who furthered this cause.
The Thomas Jefferson Building is located at Independence
Ave. and 1st St., SE. Visitor hours are between 10:00 am and 5:30
pm Monday through Saturday. The John Adams Building is at 3rd
St. and Independence Ave., SE. Visitor hours are 8:30 am to 9:30
pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and 8:30 am to 5:30 pm
on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The James Madison Building
is located on Independence Ave. between 1st and 2nd Sts., SE.
Visitor hours are from 8:30 am to 9:30 pm Monday through Friday
and 8:30 am to 6:30 pm on Saturday. All Library
of Congress buildings are closed to the public on Sundays
and federal holidays. For more information, please call 202/707-8000.
metro stop: Capitol South.
The Sewall-Belmont House is located at 144 Constitution Ave., NE. It is open for guided tours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or at the website www.sewallbelmont.org. Metro stop: Eastern Market.
The Folger Shakespeare Library is located at 201 East Capitol St., SE. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. It is closed on all Federal holidays. Tours are regularly scheduled and no prior arrangements are necessary. Metro station: Eastern Market.
In October, 1880 St. Mark's began acquiring its present site at 3rd and A Sts., SE. The 1868 frame chapel was moved across Third Street and was used by the congregation and by 1888 the congregation had grown enough to begin construction of the present building. Baltimore architect T. Buckler Ghequier was chosen as to design the church and the cornerstone was on September 17, 1888. The north end of the building was completed and opened in time to hold services on February 23, 1889. A passageway was built connecting the frame chapel with the new building and the former was used for a choir room and parish hall. In 1894 the frame chapel was finally demolished and the tower, nave, chancel and the west thirty feet of the parish hall were completed.
St. Mark's is located at 3rd and A Sts., SE. There is limited accessibility to the public.
Part of a larger, city-wide public market system, Eastern Market was built to provide an orderly supply of goods to urban residents. It acted as both an anchor to keep residents from leaving Capitol Hill for a neighborhood with better civic services and as a magnet to draw new people. The Market also symbolized the much-desired urbanization of Washington, DC At the end of the Civil War, the city was under pressure to erase its image as a sleepy southern village or face having the Federal Government removed. Eastern Market became part of the attempt to reshape the city's image and became the first city-owned market to be built under the public works program of the 1870s.
Eastern Market benefitted from the diligent research of Adolf Cluss who made a specialized utilitarian structure based on the prevailing ideas for market design. Among them were a lofty one-story space with an open plan, stall arrangement, natural light, easy access and exit, ventilation and no heat for better storage of perishable items. The Italianate style used by Cluss in the South Hall was useful for handling the many windows and doors typically found in market buildings. As Capitol's Hill's population spread in the early 20th century, the pressure to expand Eastern Market mounted. The city's office of Public Works, under architect Snowden Ashford, designed the new addition containing the Center and North Halls in 1908. With its growing importance, Eastern Market was unofficially recognized as the "town center" of Capitol Hill.
Even as Eastern Market expanded, changes were underway that would almost destroy Washington's market system. Developers began abandoning the "out-of-date" portion of Capitol Hill, which included Eastern Market. Competition for Eastern Market also formed with the arrival of the "grocery store chain." By 1929, Eastern Market had lost too many customers to support the vendors who occupied the North Hall. After an attempt by the city to close the market, civic groups and individuals in the Eastern Market neighborhood protested and the Market lived on.
The downturn of the market house after World War II further threatened the Eastern Market. When the DC Government moved to close the remaining public markets, Charles Glasgow, Sr. suggested he assume management responsibility for the market in the mid-1950s. The Eastern Market Corporation was formed and leased the South and Center Halls, now managed by Eastern Market Ventures. In recent years, the Market has served as a focal point in the revitalization of the Capitol Hill area, making Eastern Market once again a "town center," both politically and commercially.
Eastern Market is located at 7th and C Sts., SE, across from the Eastern Market Metro Station. It is open to the public every day of the week except for Mondays.
The rental of pews provided the parish's chief source of income. Three free pews were regularly reserved: one for the President of the United States; one for the donor of the land, Mr. Prout; and one for the rector's family. When the first service was held on August 9, 1807, the church was known only as the "New Church in the Navy Yard." The vestry formally adopted the name "Christ Church" on August 20, 1807. The church's first rectory was built in 1824. The bell tower, added in 1849, was used as an observation post during the Civil War. The present Parish Hall was built in 1874. In 1924, the first rectory was razed and the present one was built on the same site. The Crucifixion window at the end of the chancel, a memorial to mothers, dates from 1927. In 1966, a two-story addition to the Parish Hall was constructed and dedicated to the memory of Rev. Edward Gabler, the priest and rector from 1928 to 1944. This architectural treasure is still dedicated to public worship.
Christ Church, Washington Parish is located at 620 G St., SE. Public access is limited. Metro stop: Eastern Market.
Consecrating the place to Lincoln's memory really took hold several years later, however, through the efforts begun shortly after the assassination by an African American woman named Charlotte Scott of Virginia. Using her first $5 earned in freedom, Scott kicked-off a fund raising campaign among freed blacks as a way of paying homage to the President who had issued the Emancipation Proclamation that liberated the slaves in the Confederate States. The campaign for the Freedmen's Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln, as it was to be known, was not the only effort of the time to build a monument to Lincoln; however, as the only one soliciting contributions exclusively from those who had most directly benefited from Lincoln's act of emancipation it had a special appeal.
The funds were collected solely from freed slaves (primarily from African American Union veterans), however, the organization controlling the effort and keeping the funds was a white-run, war-relief agency based in St.Louis, the Western Sanitary Commission. The monument was designed by Thomas ball, cast in Munich in 1875 and shipped to Washington in 1876. Congress accepted the Emancipation Group, as it came to be known, from the "colored citizens of the United States" for placement in Lincoln Square and appropriated $3,000 for a pedestal upon which it would rest.
In 1959 Congress authorized the National Council of Negro Women to build a memorial to its founder, Mary McLeod Bethune, a well-known African American educator and government advisor. Conceived originally to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963, the monument was not dedicated until 1974 because of problems with fundraising (the bronze memorial ended up costing $400,000) and the priority given by the Council, an umbrella organization of African American women's groups, to the efforts of the Civil Rights movement. The sculptor of the Bethune Memorial was Robert Berks, an artist based in New York who also sculpted the gigantic Kennedy bust in the Grand Foyer of Washington's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. When it was dedicated in 1974, the Bethune Memorial was the first statue of an African American or a woman of any race on public park land in Washington. (The only previous statue of an African American was that of the freed slave in the Emancipation Group, which was based on Archer Alexander, the last man captured under the Fugitive Slave Act).
Lincoln Park, maintained by the National Park Service, is a public park square that is accessible to the public.
In 1889 and 1890, the United States Congress required streetcar companies in Washington to convert from animal traction to some form of mechanical traction. Overhead wire use was also outlawed. Just having been granted permission from Congress to extend the company's line on East Capitol Street to 15th Street, the East Capitol Street Car Barn was built when Metropolitan was converting all of its lines to the electric conduit system. In an attempt to organize the numerous streetcar companies in Washington, Metropolitan merged with Washington Traction and Electric Company in 1899. Soon after, Washington Traction and Electric Company declared bankruptcy. The Washington Railway and Electric Company acquired their property, eventually stabilizing the streetcar business into an efficient network of electric railways instead of competing lines. The car barn continued to function as a storage and repair shop for electric cars. When Washington Railway and Electric Company merged with Capital Traction Company to form Capital Transit Company in 1933, buses began replacing streetcars due to their flexibility. On January 28, 1962, the last streetcar was operated in Washington and the East Capitol Street Car Barn was then used to store buses.
In 1973, the DC Transit Company was acquired by METRO, Washington's new rapid transit authority. The East Capitol Street Car Barn was not acquired by METRO, and was vacant. A private developer purchased the property and has adaptively re-used the car barn by turning it into a unique apartment building.
The East Capitol Street Car Barn is located at 1400 East Capitol St., NE. It is privately owned and not open for public access. Metro stop: Eastern Market
Founded on November 10, 1775 by the Continental Congress and disbanded after the Revolution, the Marine Corps was reestablished in 1798 and headquartered in Philadelphia, the nation's capital at that time. In 1800, the headquarters moved to Washington, DC first in Georgetown and later on E Street until Commandant William Ward Burrows chose an appropriate site. Burrows chose the current location of the Barracks and chose English architect George hadfield, who also designed Arlington House, as the architect of the Barracks and the Commandant's House.
Early in the 20th century, the Marine Barracks underwent extensive renovation. The 2 1/2-story, brick Commandant's House, completed in 1806, is the only structure remaining of the original barracks complex. The oldest public building with the exception of the White House, it served as home for men like Archbald Henderson, Charles Heywood, and John A. Lejeune, all of whom played vital roles in the development of the modern Marine Corps. Other structure on the old post grounds include a barracks building, a band hall, and a row of five officers' quarters. All of these brick structures were erected between 1904 and 1907.
Today, the Anacostia Historic District is an area of approximately 20 squares in southeast Washington. Uniontown, the core of the historic district was incorporated in 1854 and was one of the first suburbs in the District of Columbia. It was designed to be financially available to Washington's working class, most of who were employed across the river at the Navy Yard. The initial subdivision of 1854 carried restrictive covenants prohibiting the sale, rental or lease of property to any Negro, Mulatto, or anyone of African or Irish descent. However, by 1880 approximately 15 percent of the residents were African American and today probably 99 percent. The historic district retains much of its mid-to-late 19th-century low scale, working class character as is shown in its architecture.
While the neighborhood is fairly homogenous and a strong sense of order prevails, a great deal of variety and visual richness exists. Projecting porches and varied rooflines create a strong sense of rhythm up and down the streets. Relatively simple, standard house forms feature some of the most varied and original detailing. Individuals chose their own porch trim, iron fences, window and gable treatments and other decorative details.
The frame houses are mostly Italianate and Cottage style with some scattered examples of Queen Anne. Interspersed are brick rowhouses, churches and two commercial streets Good Hope Road, and Martin Luther King, Jr., Avenue, but with few exceptions, the commercial buildings mirror the low-scale residential character of the neighborhood.
It also contains within its boundaries, the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, (14th and W Streets, SE) home of the developer of Uniontown, which was later bought by Frederick Douglass who was often referred to as the "Sage of Anacostia." After decades of neglect, Anacostia's citizens are working to revitalize the neighborhood.
The Anacostia Historic District is roughly bounded by Martin Luther King Ave. on the west, Good Hope Rd. on the north, Fendall St. and the rear of the Frederick Douglass home on the east, and Bangor St. and Morris Rd. on the south. Most of the buildings are private residences and not open to the public. Metro stop: Anacostia.
At the request of his second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, Congress chartered the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association, to whom Mrs. Douglass bequeathed the house. Joining with the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, the association opened the house to visitors in 1916. The property was added to the National Park system on September 5, 1962, and was designated a National Historic Site in 1988.
Douglass was born a slave on Maryland's Eastern Shore and was given the name Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey. At an early age, he learned to read and write, and escaped to freedom in the North, changing his name to Douglass to avoid recapture. Eventually he settled in Rochester, New York, and was active in the abolitionist cause. He was a leader of Rochester's Underground Railroad movement and became the editor and publisher of the North Star, an abolitionist newspaper. After the Civil War, Douglass came to Washington, DC, and served as the marshall of the District of Columbia and was appointed recorder of deeds for the city. In 1889, President Harrison appointed him minister-resident and consul general of the Republic of Haiti and charge d'affaires for the Dominican Republic. During all of this activity, Douglass remained an outspoken advocate for the rights of African Americans. This National Historic Site helps us to better understand the life of the man who is recognized as "the father of the civil rights movement."
The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, administered by the National Park Service, is located at 1411 W St., SE. It is open to the public daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the summer, and from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in the fall and winter. The site is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day. There is a fee to tour the home. For more information, please call 202/426-5961. The Frederick Douglass National Historic Site is not within close proximity to a Metro stop.
The Arboretum is located in northeast DC and is bordered on the east by the banks of the Anacostia River. The site is marked by Mount Hamilton on the west and Hickey Hill on the east with a broad central valley and Hickey Creek running through the center. Initially 189 acres were purchased in 1928; today it encompasses 412 acres.
As the only federally supported arboretum, and one of the larger arboretums in the country, the National Arboretum plays a unique role. It breeds plants for localities throughout the country. Its mission is to serve the entire country, and in the controlled environment of its greenhouses it breeds plants for particular locales. The primary functions of the Arboretum are research and education and its Federal support allows for long-term projects. The first and most popular exhibit, the azaleas, was the product of pioneering research of the first director.
The Arboretum grounds retain a sylvan look. This has been accomplished by retaining most of the natural woods, including beeches, oaks and Virginia pines, which stood on the grounds when the land was purchased, and limiting the amount of roadways. The exhibition areas are located either along the roadways or on pebbled paths off the roadside. Their design varies from the formal landscaping of the Gotelli Dwarf Conifer Collection on the north shoulder of Hickey Road to the natural planting of crabapples along Hickey Hill Road. Fern Valley is limited to ferns and other plants native to eastern North America.
When the US Capitol building was expanded in the 1950s, 22 34-foot tall sandstone Corinthian columns were removed. The columns, designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe and erected under the supervision of Charles Bulfinch were destined for a landfill when Mrs. George Garrett rescued them. Finally after years of negotiations, they were taken out of storage and English landscape architect Russell Page designed a setting for them on a knoll near the main entrance. Also on the grounds is the United Brick Corporation Brick Complex NR near the entrance at 2801 New York Avenue, which was built 1927-31.
The National Arboretum is located at 3501 New York Ave., NE. Arboretum grounds are open every day of the year except December 25th from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. The Administration Building is open Monday through Friday 8:00 am to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends in spring through autumn. The Arbor House Gift Shop is open daily and on weekends from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, March 1 through December 24. The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum is open daily from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm. National Arboretum is not within close proximity to a Metro station.
After the Civil War, 37 acres of this land were bought as a farm by W.B. Shaw, a war veteran who had come to Washington to work in the Treasury Department. Shaw pursued his hobby, the growing of water lilies, on the marshy sections of his land. He imported 12 hardy American white lilies, from his native Maine and grew them in an abandoned ice pond. As the lilies thrived, Shaw dug more ponds and began to experiment in hybridization. In 1912, Shaw and his daughter, Helen Shaw Fowler, began to sell their lilies commercially and daily shipped thousands of 63 varieties of hand-picked lilies, to Chicago, Boston and New York. During his lifetime, Shaw was responsible for developing many new varieties of lily, among them the Pink Opal and W.B. Shaw and the Helen Fowler water lily varieties, all still grown commercially today. The "Shaw Gardens" produced lilies available nowhere else in the country in the marsh's 35 different types of soil.
Mrs. Fowler, who ran the business after Mr. Shaw's death in 1921, agreed to permit the public to view the lilies on Sunday mornings during the height of the season. During the 1920s and 30s, visitors numbered as many as 5-6,000 per day. Even though it was one of the largest lily farms in the world, the Shaw property was particularly attractive because it had been left almost entirely in its natural state.
In 1924, Mrs. Fowler was persuaded to permit local residents to attempt to have the ponds brought under public ownership; among the most enthusiastic supporters was Mrs. Calvin Coolidge who, along with President and Mrs. Wilson, was a frequent visitor to the gardens. The extent of the gardens remains essentially unchanged from 1938, the year they ceased operation as a commercial enterprise and became part of the National Park system.
Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is located in northeast Washington, DC, near the Maryland boundary along the tidal Anacostia River. The entrance to the Aquatic Gardens is just west of I-295 (Kenilworth Avenue), between Quarles and Douglas Sts., on Anacostia Ave. It is open daily from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm. For more information call 202/426-6905. The Gardens are not within close proximity to a Metro station.
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Cultural Tourism DC
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