The president’s neighborhood
The president’s neighborhood
The Renwick Gallery is a Branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum dedicated to exhibiting American contemporary craft. The Renwick Gallery is just on the other side of the White House in the heart of historic federal Washington. This National Historic Landmark was designed by architect James Renwick Jr. in 1858. This was the first building that specifically made to be an art museum in the United States.
Blair House, a National Historic Landmark, is part of the President’s Guest House Complex. The house itself was built for Dr. Joseph Lovell, the first Surgeon General on the United States, in 1824. In 1836 it was bought by Francis Preston Blair, Sr., a member of President Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet.” The Blair’s built a house next door for their daughter in 1852, which became known as the Lee House. The two houses were and still are practically used as one. The United States Government purchased Blair House in 1942 and it has been housing guests of the presidents since that time.
Dedicated on May 24, 1902 by President Theodore Roosevelt, this monument commemorates the life of Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau. This monument was dedicated to Rochambeau in recognition of his military service to the American colonies during the Battle of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War. The monument is placed in the southwest corner of Lafayette Square. The monument serves as a reminder of the alliance between France and the American colonists who fought for independence from Britain. During the dedication ceremony of the monument, President Roosevelt stated to the French diplomats, "because the history of the United States has been so interwoven with what France has done for us...the American people, through me, extend their thanks to you."
This statue commemorates the military service of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben of Prussia, who served as an ally of the colonial rebels against the British during the American Revolution. Baron von Steuben is known for establishing training and regulations within the fledgling U.S. Army and bringing a new professional identity to the American military. His work with General George Washington was essential in turning the tide of the Revolutionary War. With a forceful personality and immense knowledge of military tactics, he was a successful leader in different militaries around the world. Without his efforts, the American military could not have succeeded in freeing the colonies.
The Decatur House is one of the last remaining creations of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, America’s first professional architect. Located in central Washington, D.C., the Decatur House is a historic home built by Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr., in 1818, and it is one of the oldest historic homes in the area still standing. Designed with entertaining guests in mind, the Decatur House’s spacious quarters were lavishly furnished, and the home would change hands numerous times over the course of a century. It was converted into a public museum in the 1960s, and since 2010, it has served as the headquarters of the National Center for White House History.
Built from 1815 to 1816, St. John's Episcopal Church was the second building to be constructed in Lafayette Square. Known as "the church of the Presidents," every sitting president since James Madison has attended services at St. John's. Notable features of St. Johns include the nearly-1,000 lb steeple bell, cast by Paul Revere's son, and 25 historic stained glass windows, produced by Lorin Stained Glass Windows. The adjacent Parish House is also a National Historic Landmark.
Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a general during the American Revolution. He arrived in the colonies from Poland in 1776, first working as a civil engineer and then rising in ranks in the military. His contributions as a military leader helped the Continental Army win a few major battles, including the Battle of Saratoga. For his efforts, Kosciuszko was memorialized in a bronze statue in Lafayette Park. The statue was erected by the Polish National Alliance of America on behalf of Polish citizens in the United States. The 10-foot tall sculpture was designed and created by Antoni Popiel and dedicated by William Howard Taft on May 11, 1910.
This statue was created to honor Marquis de Lafayette, an important ally in the American Revolution. It was installed in 1891 in Lafayette Square, named for the major general in 1824. In 1951, French president Vincent Auriol visited Lafayette's statue and placed a wreath at the foot of the statue.
A National Historic landmark, the U.S. Department of Treasury Building was constructed in multiple phases dating back to the 1830s.. Prior to that time, the first Treasury building was a simple two-story brick structure with a basement and attic. This modest treasury was damaged by fire within its first six months. During the repair of the original treasury building, a vault extension was added, a feature that would be the only part of the building to survive the War of 1812. As the nation and its government grew following the War of 1812, Congress decided to build a more permanent structure for its treasury. Architect Robert Mills won the design competition and construction began in the 1830s. The project ran into multiple difficulties and Congress even debated whether they should demolish what Mills had started. Congress decided to stick with Mills and his design, and the building was completed in 1842. It would be expanded during the 1850s and also in the midst of the Civil War.
One of the most prominent figures in early American history is represented by this 10-foot-tall outdoor bronze sculpture by American sculptor James Earle Fraser. The Alexander Hamilton Statue stands atop a granite base created by Henry Bacon. The base features multiple inscriptions pertaining to the "Father of the American Monetary System." It is located on the on the south patio (Alexander Hamilton Place, NW) of the U.S. Treasury Building in Washington D.C.
Named in honor of Washington DC Council Chair John A. Wilson Building, this municipal building is home to the offices of the mayor and many other departments. The building was completed in 1908. As a precursor to DC's attempt to place two statues of prominent leaders in the Capitol- a privilege given only to states, the city commissioned statues to abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Pierre L'Enfant, the designer of Washington D.C.'s master plan. While Douglass's statue was moved to the Capitol as part of an effort to honor DC residents similarly to those from U.S. states, the statue of L'Enfant remains. The exterior of the building is home to a statue of Alexander Robey Shepherd, perhaps the most influential civic leaders in the history of the city. Stephens' legacy is controversial, however, as he was known both as the "Father of Modern Washington" owing to his role in promoting public works progress and as a corrupt city boss who used public funds to maintain his power and reward his supporters with government contracts.
The historic Willard InterContinental Hotel is located on Pennsylvania Avenue one block away from The White House. One of the city’s landmark hotels, it has hosted dinners, meetings and major social events for more than 150 years. The famous hotel has hosted nearly every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853. Notable guests have included Charles Dickens, Buffalo Bill, David Lloyd George, P.T. Barnum, heads of states, world business leaders and many more. Martin Luther King famously finished his “I Have A Dream” speech while staying at the hotel. Mark Twain wrote a pair of books while staying at the Willard and Walt Whitman specifically mentioned it in his works. The Hollywood movie “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise was partially filmed here.
This bronze monument honors one of the leading Civil War generals, William Tecumseh Sherman, and is located near the exact location where Sherman reviewed Union troops at a ceremony commemorating the end of the war in May, 1865. The monument features an equestrian statue of the general on top of a square platform with a soldier at each corner of the base. The four bronze statues represent each of the four branches of the army at that time (infantry, cavalry, engineers, and artillery). President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt dedicated the statue in 1903. The monument was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a master craftsman who produced numerous sculptures before completing this piece, his very last work before his death in 1907.
The First Division Monument honors fallen members of the First Division of the United States Army. Located in President's Park outside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the monument was originally erected and dedicated in 1924 in honor of First Division members who died in World War I. The Society of the First Division, under the leadership of Major General Charles P. Summerall, advocated for a World War I monument in the nation's capital. Over the years, multiple additions to the monument honor First Division members who died in World War II, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm. Its design reflects the Battle Monument at the United States Military Academy in West Point. It features a granite columnn and pedestal designed by Cass Gilbert and a winged statue of Victory by David Chester French. The First Division Monument is under the care of the National Park Service and hosts services on Veterans Day.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art stands as a major center of American art, both historic and contemporary. Founded “for the purpose of encouraging American Genius,” the Corcoran’s extensive collection of 18th, 19th, and 20th century American art represents most significant American artists. The Corcoran possesses a fine collection of European art as well. While continuing its efforts to represent historic American works, the gallery also encourages modern European and American artists by showing and purchasing their work, paying particular attention to artists in the Washington area.