Lost Washington: The Leiter House

leiter-houseThe residence at 1500 New Hampshire Ave. was designed by architect Theophilus Chandler and built in 1891 for Levi Leiter, a Chicago real estate and department store millionaire. The Leiter house was a white brick, classically inspired mansion with a red tile roof located at the intersection of Dupont Circle, New Hampshire Avenue, and 19th Street. Considered the finest private residence in Washington at the time it was built, the mansion was three stories with fifty-five rooms.

Levi Leiter, along with Potter Palmer, entered into a partnership with Marshall Field to create the department store Field, Palmer and Leiter in 1865. Palmer retired form the firm in 1867 to persue other interests. As Leiter began spending all of his time investing in Chicago real estate, he sold his interest in the department store toField in 1881, which were worth $6 million.   After his death in 1904, his wfe became a leading Washington hostess with elaborate parties held in the house until World War II.

During the War it was leased for U. S. Government offices, and in 1947 sold and demolished. The Dupont Plaza Hotel was then built on the site.leiter-house-interior-1leiter-house-interior-2leiter-house-interior-3leiter-house-interior-4


11 Responses to “Lost Washington: The Leiter House”

  1. Wow, check out the polar bear skin rug!

  2. I just about cried at this post, thinking about such beauty destroyed for a hotel. So sad no one saw the history and detail in the building.

  3. Beautiful interior!

  4. […] Ever heard of the Leiter House?  Neither had I until reading DC Kaleidoscope’s brief but engaging history of this once very significant Washington residence. […]

  5. […] Then and Now:1500 New Hampshire Ave., NW Then: The Leiter House, built in 1891 for Levi P. Leiter. It was eventually razed in 1947. More information and photos of the house can be found at this post. […]

  6. Nancy Coffey Says:

    Mrs. Levi Leiter (Mary Theresa Carver Leiter) died in March of 1913. Their son Joseph and his wife Juliette lived in the Washington house. Joseph died in 1932, so it would have been his widow, Juliette Leiter, who was the pre-WW. 2 Washington hostess.

    After Levi Leiter’s death, his widow Mary built an ocean front summer home, Edgewater, in Beverly Farms, Massachusetts in 1910. (See Pamela Fox, North Shore Boston: Houses of Essex County, for plans and photos.) After her death Joseph and his family spent summers there. The house stayed in the Leiter family until 1951.

  7. Publius Washingtoniensis Says:

    Levi Leiter’s daughter Mary (1870-1906) married George Curzon (1859-1925), a promising young British politician, in 1895. Their eleven-year marriage was reportedly a genuinely happy union. In 1895, Curzon was ennobled and appointed Viceroy of British India, and Mary, now Lady Curzon, was enthroned with her husband as Vicereine of India. For seven extraordinary years, they reigned over the Rah in great style from the fabulous Peacock Throne. In 1905, Lord Curzon resigned office after losing a dispute with the British commander in India, the equally legengary Field Marshal Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, and they returned to Britain. Mary bore Curzon three daughters (who led extraordinary lives in their own right), but never fully recovered from a 1904 miscarriage — she died in 1906, just 36 years old. What a remarkable life for a Washington girl, daughter of a Chicago dry goods merchant, who grew up to preside with grace and style over the Court of India at the very height of the British Empire.

  8. Ray Leiter Says:

    It’s a shame the house was demolished — I would have liked to see where my relatives lived in splendor.

  9. Irvin Muritz Says:

    Does anyone have a photo of Joseph Leiter’s home that was next to Levi’s mansion on New Hampshire Ave?

  10. This website certainly has all the information and facts I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  11. Irvin Muritz Says:

    Supplemental Information:

    About 1873-74 Blaine built himself a new and elegant residence. It is located at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenwue and P & 20th Sts, west of DuPont Circle, Washington, D.C. Later it was the home of George Westinghouse. Blaine’s other residence was a house at 518 West 15th Street. He lived there during the first ten years of his congressional career. The DuPont Circle house was expensive and showy, but for some reason was never admired or much occupied by the owner. It got the name “Blaine’s Folly”. He spent about $85,000 on the house, subsequently rented it to Levi Leiter for $12,000 per year. It is thought that the assassination of Garfield and Blaine’s consequent resignation from the Cabinet that led his abandonment of the DuPont Circle house. With the election of Harrison, Blaine was appointed Secretary of State, he took up residence at his other residence in the Seward house on 15th Street at Lafayette Square and remained there almost constantly until his death.

    Levi Leiter lived in the Blaine house probably during the construction of his mansion on DuPont Circle.

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