Long before this elegant hotel was built, on this site was the home of Rose O'Neal Greenhow, a Confederate spy. She was an attractive and sociable widow who had a talent for entertaining Union officers and other powerful men. The secrets she learned ended up as coded messages sent to enemy generals. It is believed that she warned Confederate General Beauregard of Union Army movements in time for him to prepare for what would become the Second Battle of Bull Run. Mrs. Greenhow was eventually caught and put under house arrest.
In 1885, twin homes of two powerful men were built at the site. The homes belonged to John Hay (Secretary of State under Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt) and Henry Adams (grandson of President John Quincy Adams and known for his autobiography, The Education of Henry Adams).
In 1927, the Manger Hay-Adams Hotel was opened here. It has remained one of the most elegant, refined hotels in the city. Sinclair Lewis, Ameilia Earhart, and Charles Lindbergh were a few of the hotel's guests. In the early 1980s, Lt. Col Oliver North entertained many potential donors to the Contra money pipeline at the bars and restaurants of the hotel. They were an easy commute from North's office at the National Security Council's Old Executive Office Building headquarters.
Occupants of Slidell House, now covered by the Hay-Adams Hotel, included Senator John Slidell and Gideon Welles (Secretary of the Navy under Lincoln) before it was razed in 1922. The house also gained notoriety as a haunted house. It was said that the spirit of Marian "Clover" Adams, wife of Henry Adams, could be standing at the windows or in the hallways of the house for years after her supposed suicide in the house.
The bronze bell in the church's tower, made in 1822 by Paul Revere's son, once served as more than a summons to services. In Washington's early years, it was the fire fighters' bell, rung to call the area volunteer fire fighters' to action.
The Parish House that now adjoins St. John's Episcopal Church was originally a private residence of British envoy Lord Ashburton. It was here in 1842 that Lord Ashburton and Daniel Webster negotiated a treaty establishing the borders between the United States and Canada.
At 1611 H Street once stood the mansion of Daniel Webster. It was at this house that Webster, then Secretary of State, and Henry Clay forged the Compromise of 1850 that staved off the immediate rebellion of the Southern States. The house was later home to William W. Corcoran. In 1922, the house was demolished in 1922 to make way for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building.
Sites on the East side of Lafayette Park
Sites on the West side of Lafayette Park