Lost Washington: Washington City Orphan Asylum

The Washington City Orphan Asylum was founded in 1815 to care for the destitute children of Washington. It was originally located on H Street, NW, between 9th and 10th Streets in a building designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1828.

Washington City Orphan AsylumThe images here show its second location on the southeast corner of 14th and S Streets, NW. This larger lot was donated in 1865 by William W. Corcoran. The Washington City Orphan Asylum authorized construction of the new building in the Italian villa style to plans by architect John C. Harkness. Use of the building for the Orphan Asylum was delayed by a decade when Secretary of State Seward expressed his need for space due to a shortage caused by the Civil War. As a result the building was leased to the State Department for its headquarters.

In 1927 the Washington City Orphan Asylum unofficially changed its name to Hillcrest Children’s Center and moved to a new location at Nebraska Avenue and 42nd Street, NW. Ultimately, the building at 14th and S Streets was razed in 1963.
Washington City Orphan Asylum interior

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