The Belmont Mansion: International Headquarters for the Order of the Eastern Star
The Belmont mansion built in 1909 by famous French architect Eugene Sanson for Perry and Jessie Belmont, is now known as the International Headquarters for the Order of the Eastern Star. The Order of the Eastern Star (also known as OES) is a philanthropic international organization to give a part of their time to many projects that benefit mankind and that also holds its members to a very high standard much like the Freemasons. This mansion was previously used by the Belmonts to host parties and special events, and at one point in time hosted the Prince of Wales, until its closing in 1925. When it was purchased by the General Grand Chapter in 1935 it was purchased for 1.5% of the original construction price and is not used not only as the headquarters but as the home of the Right Worthy Grand Secretary and their family.
Backstory and Context
Sitting between New Hampshire avenue North West and Eighteenth Street North West off DuPont Circle in Washington D.C. there sits a beautiful historical building built by Perry Belmont and his wife. The building was completed in 1909 at the extravagant cost of $1.5 million. It was designed by Eugene Sanson, a famous French architect who had designed many grand homes and chateaus in Europe. Sanson was known for his use of lighting and space and for his magnificent staircases which is all seen in the Belmont mansion.
The building was only used for about two months out of the year when owned by Perry Belmont for the Washington party season. The mansion was a site of elegance, gracious and grand hospitality, of distinguished diplomats, world-renowned guests and romance. The Belmont’s entertained often and had a staff of about 34 servants, whom had their own quarters in the basement of the mansion. They used the house from 1909 to 1925. It was then closed and put on the market for sale with the stipulation that it could not be altered for 20 years after the purchase.
The building remained unused until about 1935 until the General Grand Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. Perry Belmont, being a Freemason, was thrilled to sell the building to someone who would take care of it and use it well. He sold the building to the Eastern Star for only $100,000. As part of the agreement with Mr. Belmont, The General Grand Chapter law states that the Right Worthy Grand Secretary must live in the building, so the building is still a private residence as well as their Headquarters.
One of the most interesting guests that was housed by Perry Belmont was Edward, Prince of Wales. Edward was supposed to visit the president but Woodrow Wilson was taken ill and the prince was not able to stay with them at the mansion. Without many other options the Secretary of State sent a telegram to Mr. Belmont asking to use his mansion. Without hesitation he agreed and for ten days he housed the future King Edward the VIII.
Humphreys, Laura. "Divorce, the Duchess, and Dupont Circle." The Eastern Star Journal. The Eastern Star Journal, October 10, 2011, 41-42.
Perry Belmont House & International Headquarters. General Grand Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star. Accessed December 04, 2017. http://www.easternstar.org/international-headquarters/.