The Brodhead-Bell-Morton Mansion, otherwise known as the Levi P. Morton House, is a historic home in Washington, DC. Originally built in 1879 for John T. and Jessie Willis Brodhead as a home, the Morton House has served as host to numerous other high-profile occupants, such as Alexander Graham Bell and U.S. Vice President Levi P. Morton. As of 2016, the building is under the ownership of Hungary with the intention to move the Hungarian Embassy to the home. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in October of 1987.
Backstory and Context
Not much is known about the original commissioners of the mansion, the Brodheads. Records indicate that the Brodheads commissioned architect John Frasier to design the mansion, but the matter of whether or not the couple ever actually inhabited the mansion is unknown. Regardless, the two sold the mansion to Mr. and Mrs. Hubbard, whose son-in-law was Alexander Graham Bell, in 1882.
Bell and his wife Mabel moved into the house in 1883, and they remained there until 1889. That same year, the couple sold the home to the soon-to-be Vice President Levi Parsons Morton, who would serve under President Benjamin Harrison. Morton decided that the mansion could use some renovations, and he called on John Frasier to return and design an east wing for the mansion. Morton remained in the mansion until 1894.
In 1903, the mansion came under the ownership of the Imperial Czarist government ambassador, Count Arturo Cassini, and his daughter Marguerite. For the brief years they stayed in Washington, DC, the Cassinis were quite popular, but in 1906, they took their leave of the home. In 1912, Levi Morton returned to the house and commissioned another architect, John Russell Pope, to conduct a full-scale remodeling of the mansion. Morton lived there until his death in 1920, and the mansion changed hands over the years until it was purchased by the National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association (later known as the American Coatings Association) in 1940. The association renovated the building for its headquarters, installing new lighting and furniture.
It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 14th, 1987. It was purchased by Hungary in 2016 in order to house the Embassy of Hungary.
Embassy of Hungary. History of the New Building of the Embassy of Hungary, Embassy of Hungary Washington. Accessed November 1st 2020. https://washington.mfa.gov.hu/eng/page/history-of-new-embassy-building.
National Park Service. "Brodhead-Bell-Morton Mansion." National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form. Prepared by Marilyn Ludwig and Mary Travers. Washington, D.C.: National Park Service, Department of the Interior, 1987. Accessed December 2017. https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/87001769.pdf
Swain, Craig. This House was Occupied by Alexander Graham Bell, Historical Marker Database. October 25th 2019. Accessed November 1st 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=59330.