Archive for McPhearson Square

Lost Washington: the McLean House

Posted in Downtown, Lost Washington with tags , , on July 2, 2009 by Kent

McLean House
The McLean House, located at 1500 Eye Street, NW, was perhaps the most opulent of the many great houses erected in Washington at the turn of the century. A Renaissance-inspired structure, the house covered one-third of a city block on the south side of McPherson Square.

The mansion incorporated the original house on the southwest corner of 15th and Eye Streets that was built in 1860 by Jonah Hoover. From 1865 to 1869, the house was occupied by Senator Edwin D. Morgan, a wealthy stockbroker and wholesale grocery merchant.

The house was leased by John Roll McLean — who purchased it several years later — in 1884. Subsequently, the home was enlarged in 1886, 1891, 1894, and 1896. McLean was the only son of Washington McLean, who started as a boilermaker in Ohio and made a fortune as a manufacturer of Ohio River steamboats.

McLean House, music room from staircaseThe younger McLean got his start at his father’s paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, taking charge when the family moved to Washington. In 1905, McLean purchased the Washington Post, which deteriorated under his leadership.

In his personal life, McLean liked to entertain on a grand scale. To this end, he commission John Russell Pope to expand the house (which he’d already added on to four times) into a block-long Renaissance in-town villa in 1907. For the interior decoration, the leading New York designer Elsie de Wolfe was engaged.

Upon John’s death in 1916, the house passed to his son Edward. Edward, a known alcoholic, had married Evalyn Walsh. Edward spent his last days in a Maryland sanitarium, where he died in 1941.

Evalyn Walsh McLean leased the house to the federal government in 1935 for use as office space for three of the New Deal agencies. In 1939, it was sold for $2 million and demolished for the  Lafayette Office Building.McLean House, staircase detailMcLean House, music room looking toward ballroomMcLean House, view of dining room showing mantel & cupboardMcLean House, view of ballroom showing fireplace and four tapestries

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Monument to General McPherson

Posted in McPherson Square with tags , , on June 16, 2009 by Kent

McPherson Square monumentAccording to the Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog, General McPherson was commander of the Army of the Tennessee and took part in General Sherman’s march to the sea during the Civil War. He later lost his life during the battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864.

Confederate cannons captured at Atlanta were used in the casting of the sculpture. This memorial was installed in Scott Square which was then renamed McPherson Square. Smithmeyer & Pelz designed the base. Westham Granite Works was responsible for the stone work. The sculpture was authorized by Congress on March 3, 1875 and was paid for by the Society of the Army of the Tennessee. The dedication took place on the 11th annual reunion of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee.005

Lost Washington: Lowery House

Posted in Downtown, Lost Washington, Residences, Second Empire with tags , , on May 19, 2009 by Kent
Brick townhouse on the corner of Vermont Avenue (Courtesy Historical Society of Washington, DC)

Brick townhouse erected by James Lowery on corner of Vermont Avenue (Courtesy Historical Society of Washington, DC)

Once located on the northwest corner of Vermont Avenue and K Street, NW, the residential structure built in 1875-1876 was considered to be among the best residential addresses in Washington.

The mansion was erected by Archibald H. Lowery, a prominent local real-estate developer, initially as his own residence. It remained in the Lowery family during its entire existence, although it was rented most of the time. One of its first occupants was Wayne McVeagh, attorney general during the Garfield and Arthur administrations. Other distinguished residents included Mrs. Phoebe Hearst, and the Cornelius Vanderbilts of New York.

Lowery House Parlor

Lowery House Parlor

It was, perhaps, the most refined and cohesive Second Empire house in the city, and had a presence more calming with a refined dignity that didn’t exist in the Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne homes built a few years later in the neighborhood.

Upon the death of the Duchess de Arcos, born Virginia Lowery, the house was razed for a parking lot in April 1936. Continue reading