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tv   History of Dupont Circle  CSPAN  April 3, 2015 10:38pm-11:37pm EDT

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next, author and architecture historian steve hansen chronicles one of the washington's famous neighborhoods. they wills the story of how and why wealthy couples moved to the area during the guilded age in the 20th century. he's the author of a history of dupont circle, center of high society in the capital. it's just under an hour. >> good evening. i'm the museum education manager for the american revolution institute. i'm pleased to welcome you here for our first program of our winter series.
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if you're not on our public program mailing list and would like to be you can fill out the form you found on your chair and you can pick up a copy of our latest calendar of events out front. in the early 20th century the anderson's desired a home in washington where they could entertain american and foreign dignitaries in a grand setting. they purposefully selected a lot in a fashionable neighborhood in dupont circle to be the center of social activity. we're pleased to welcome stephen
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hansen to discuss his book. he's a long time resident of washington, d.c. he's an author. he's principal at the d.c. historic designs llc in washington. he serves as a trustee for the committee of 100 on the federal city and author's the monthly column what was once in washington, d.c. mr. hansen. [ applause ] >> thank you for coming tonight. i'd like to start to say it's a major honor to talk about my book in the ballroom of the anderson mansion. i'd like to start off talking about how this book came to be.
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initially i didn't want to write this book. i was writing for the newspaper monthly column. i was writing about all over the city and about people in dupont circle related to dupont circumstancescircle. i got a lot of positive feedback. i was writing more and more. eventually friends said you've already written a book on the triangle why don't you write one. i realized you can probably tell the somewhat adequate and accurate history of dupont circle by selecting certain people and events over time. not all of them but a string would give you a sense of the neighborhood over time. i decided i would try to do it.
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once i got into it i started having a lot of fun. i assigned a book contract with publisher and i was limited to 160 pages. i was up to 160 pages in the first two weeks. i kept fighting with the editor. the result of the book, i couldn't go into person or event like i wanted to. that was a challenge. i apologize to those of you who have read the book and think i have left things out. with that i'd like to start talking about the book. i think a lot of you are familiar enough with dupont circle to know it's home to people as james blaine roosevelt, william howard taft. it was also the home to other people a lot you have aren't familiar with or didn't know they lived here. that was president grant's widow
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julia and her entire extended family. senator george hurst and the cast of the hundreds of society's finest from the 19th and early 20th centuries. i'm not going to talk about those folks tonight. they're in the book. it's a lot of them. i want to discuss the development of dupont circle and also specifically how lars and isabelle anderson fit into the history of the neighborhood. before dupont circle was born i'd like to go back to about 1800 when the city itself was starting up. there's two classes of folks in what was considered high society at the time. that was the residential society -- the society consisted
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of land and southern slave owning democratic families who came to washington during the first administrations jefferson, madison. they just stayed. some of the notable residential society members were stephen decatur and madison. official society consisted of those holding political offices, presidential presidential offices and members of the corps. your status was dependent upon how long you were in town. those in town the longest presidential appointees were at the top end of that pecking order. it worked its way down to senators and sometimes congressmen but they were only here briefly and much too busy to socialize. this was basically the social make up of washington until up
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until the civil war. the result of the civil war, the democrats, republicans took over power and the residential society were democrats. a lot of them had lost their money and their lands during the war. they left town. some decided to stay. they had to go underground socially because they were not in favor coming in opening demonstrations. they became known as cave dwellers. they went underground and only came to light once in a while when a granddaughter needed a cotillion. they generally only socialized with each other. i think cave dwellers was an appropriate name. they also stayed where they settled around lafayette square.
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this is a map of the dupont circle area in about 1860. as you can see there's not really a lot going on. down to the south you see connecticut avenue. down here is lafayette square. that's where the cave dwellers were living. first of all, the area was not a very attractive. there was a stream running through it. it came down from 17th street and down towards 17th. it made all this land pretty mucky and swampy. john little who was a butcher put his butcher shop at the top of the stream. he would throw the awful and blood into the stream and it
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would slowly work its way down until it ended in rock creek down here. strangely enough in the second half of the 19th century, there was kind of a swamp that had formed here which is the site of the may flower. it's a very popular swimming hole. go figure. standards have changed since then. notable resident, one of the first was william o'neil or billy o'neil. he had a very famous daughter peggy who was the genesis of petticoat scandal which caused jackson his administration due to an unfortunate marriage she had shortly after her first husband died. it was proved she was having an affair with this gentleman while her husband was oversaeseas and he
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committed suicide. also, to the very north this is what is florida avenue which was caused boundary street because it was the edge. 19th is burial ground. that was started in 1801. it was one of two public senators in washington. as you can imagine over the years it filled up. it was not very large space. it was less than one city block. it was condemned in 1870 at which point people were burying relatives three deep. not always legitimately. they would bury them. when florida avenue or boundary street was lowered it left the cemetery 7 or 8 feet high above the grave of the street.
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also, by the 1870s there were school children in the neighborhood and people were upset to look out the window and find boys running around with human bones using them as swords and at one point a boy had a skull on top of a bone he was using leading other kids down the street. the cemetery over the years had some notable burials. one was billy o'neil. another one the first man hanged in washington. he was hanged in 1803. he was sentenced to death for coming home and brutally beating his wife. he was buried there because tft a pub it was a public cemetery. the night after he was buried they snuck in and dug him up and reburied him outside the cemetery.
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same gentleman came back, dug up the body and buried it in/run never to be found again. about 40 years later somebody was excavating for their house and basement and found human remains and those in the know admitted that's where they had put mcgurk. also buried in the cemetery was lincoln assassination conspirator lewis payne. ip just read the other day that yuan phillip sousa was buried here but i don't see how that's possible so don't always trust wikipedia. another notable thing in the neighborhood was hopkinss brickyard. hopkins were two brothers from georgetown who set up a brickyard in the 150s. as you can see they spread all
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over the area. even though la fant had planned it it was basically a big field. so when they were extending massachusetts avenue hopkins brickyard was right in the way. so they had to knock some of those out to put the avenue through. andrgáp' some of the more prominent early residents into the 1870s complaining the smoke from the kilns was coming into their house at night so there was an act of congress to close down hopkins brickyard. so this is basically how everything looked till about 1871 when congress passed the organic act which gave washington a governor presidentially appointed governor who was henry cook. legislative assembly and house of delegates. it also created a five-member board of public works. of of which alexander bosch shepherd was on the board. he wasn't the director of the board. actually the governor was. but shepherd was so strong and
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imposing that henry cook stopped going to the meetings and shepherd got his way. he's probably best known from this time for his city-wide improvements which involved paving streets lay agsewer and drainage lights, planting trees. but he was very selective in where he did this. generally when they were paving streets, they were generally ground stone. sometimes tar which was kind of experimental at that point. and some of the prime streets were reserved for pour odd concrete, which was very popular and really took off later. so shepperd went on with his program. it was paving streets and planting here and there around the city. but suddenly folks woke up one morning and saw connecticut avenue was paved with concrete five lanes wide with sidewalks,
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lights,ings water, all the way north tore florida avenue. people aid what's going on? at the same time, some of the silver miner who's had made their fortunes in nevada and california had set their sights on washington and decided washington was the place to invest and settle. they formed a real estate syndicate which was officially called the pacific pool. others called it the honest miners club but i'm not quite sure how honest these miners were, and it was headed up by three gentlemen, judge curtis jus tip hiller who was a lawyer obviously, representative william stewart from nevada and thomas sunder land. to start off they started buying up all the land around dupont circle and claimed they had no idea that alexander shepherd was going to be improving the area at the same
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time. actually, i do believe this for some reason. but what happened was the bottom fell out of the silver market. and there was a big push at the time to start making gold the standard monetary standard. so the gentlemen really suffered from this and their fortunes were compromised. hillier survived because he was a good lawyer and kept his practice income california so he kept a steady income and cop stay the course in washington. william stewart's fortunes were wiped out and he had sort of an on and off again political career in washington and was forced to go back to nevada and work as a lawyer to try to make more money which he did amass another big fortune. so what happened was, you have these three gentlemen still owning all this land and their fortunes are ghirk quickly. they thought we've got to build something in the neighborhood that will attract investors and
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buyers to buy up all our lots and we'll start making back some of our money and hopefully a huge profit. so they pressured william stewart into building first. so in 1873, he contracted adolph clues who was then a former architect for the board of public works not that they didn't know what was going on with the board of public works to construct a very large house which was then 1 dupont circle. it was called stewart's castle. and sometimes stewart's folly because it was in the middle of nowhere. and people thought well, you're trying to get investors and you built a house out here? but it did become the center of social life and people made the trip up to dupont circle for lavish dinners and parties. stewart lost his seat. he was upseated by williams clark who is another story i won't get into tonight.
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as i said, he went back to nevada. his wife got tired of the west coast and moved back to the house alone with a companion and it was in winter. it was in december. so she was invited to the british ambassador's house for dinner new year's eve. when she got there got all settled and someone was banging on the door saying mrs. stewart is, your house is on fire. she went back to the house and found the whole house totally in flames. what had happened was nobody had checked to see if there was any water in the boiler. so up to that point it had been an unseasonably warm winter so the house caught fire and had to be rebuilt. shortly after stewart had finished his house it hillier jumped in too and built his house at the edge, the very edge of town on massachusetts avenue and florida avenue.
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and was a fine second empire house. in the 1880s, stewart still in need of money decided to rent out stewart's castle and he rented it to the chinese ambassador and a litigation staff. this is quite an interesting period for the house. the ambassador did not entertain too much. and he had a habit when he wanted his guests to leave to burn red pepper in the room, which would burn his guests' eyes to the point they would be running out the front door. but the problem was, years of burning red pepper left a lot of stains on the walls and on the furniture and also the chinese were big opiate smokers which also left a lot of stains. the fine european furniture that stewarts had brought back from europe had been burned and soiled. blug but while the chinese were there, they became quite a public spectacle.
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they did things like take their laundry out to dupont circle and lay it out to dry. they would run around and play hide and seek in the bushes at night. well, this attracted a lot of curious washtonians. so one of the popular sunday afternoon endeavors was to come up to dupont circle and see if you could spot the chinese staff doing things. and the problems were when they gathered on the balconies in the summer to get some air, crowd would gather just staring so the police had to come along and shoo them away. so we have our first two big houses in due pop the circle area, but things didn't really start to take off until 1873 when the british minister at the time, this is before it was an embassy, sir edward norton decided that england should build a permanent litigation building in washington and this
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was the first foreign building built in washington. before that, for years, the britishligation had been on 8th street right next to st. john's church and that building is still there. so sir edward hired john frazier who was a philadelphia architect to build this wonderful second empire house on the corner of nnsa and connecticut avenue. what happened as soon as his house was built, are the britishligation actually became the center of washington's high society. you weren't anybody until had you been invited to a reception or a dinner at the legation building. and then, which would knock your status up even higher, it would be if british legation staff actually came to one of your functions in one of your home. in 1880 a representative from maine, james blaine, also
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decided to build in dupont circle. blaine was a two-time presidential candidate. and basically a professional secretary of state. i think he served under four separate presidents. by 1880 he had amassed enough money probably legitimately, others would say otherwise to build this large house at 2,000 massachusetts avenue which still stands today. but he didn't -- he had just been appointed secretary of state and garfield but as you know garfield was assassinated months later so blaine did not last very long in the new administration, and did not have enough money to support this house, this staff and the entertaining that went along with it. so in 1883, by 1883 had he bought a house on lafayette square the surety house, had renovated it and moved there and
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rented this house out to then a relatively unknown family from chicago called the lighters. now the lighters over time would change the face of washington society. at the same time that blaine was building his house washington was seeing a new wave of immigration and this different sets of people. it was this military set and the new vo reach. this military consisted of high ranking military officers following the great generals to washington name there uly lis sees s-grant phillip sheridan hoping to fill the high paying positions in the war in the navy department. that was one secretarier of the military. the other also followed the generals to washington but they were already wealthy and they didn't have to work when they got here.
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they came to become involved inply power. and this included the andersons, lars' father and mother from cincinnati, the boardmans from cleveland, william boardman's house still stands on the corner of p and 18th street and is now the iraqi counsel the other set were the knew voep reach. these people made their fortunes either during org based on the civil war either legitimately or not legitimately. and they had a lot of money at this point. mark twain detested them. in his 1872 book "the gilded age," he called them named them par venues. which is a corruption of the french verb ver near meaning to have arrived. these people suddenly had arrived in society.
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he kooifzed the par venues in one family patrick o'reilly his wife, and his daughter patrick o'reilly had made a fortune selling overpriced shingle nails to the government during the civil war. so when the war was over he packed up his family and toured europe with the sole purpose of learning to speak english with a foreign language. he returned to washington to take his new place in warranted place in society. but he was now in the honorable pat trick and his wife was a lady. and they changed the spelling is of o'reilly to what he thought was a french spelling of o'reilly but it was actually the french word which i don't think he was aware meant ear and he still continued to pronounce his name o'reilly but with the french. the par venues were considered crass, tactless and were not accepted by the cave dwellers
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official society or the military set socially. as i said, lars' parents had moved to washington in 1 0, they contracted the famous architect had epry hobson richardson to build this of house on 16th and k street. now, this was right in the middle of cave dwellers intentionally and they became cave dwellers themselves. the house no longer stands. i was lucky to find an image of the house in a book. one of the first par ven news to move to washington was anastasia patent and her five daughters. anastasia had gotten her money from her husband. she was a widow. had made his fortune in nevada in gold which is a much more stable basis for your wealth than silver was at the time. she had five daughters. and after her husband died she took them all to europe on the
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grand tour which lasted about eight years. when they came back, anastasia bought several well probably five or six house lots across the street from curtis hillier. tan contracted architect robert fleming to build this very large house. when they went to tear it down, it took three months, it was so solidly built. but the one of the interesting things i found out about the five patent daughters that that they were everywhere all the time and were socially interchangeable. i was trying to track them down in society pages wherever i coulden an the papers always said always included miss patton as one of the attendees or miss patton hosted a tea. what's going on? they were just interchangeable. no one knew which one was which and they spread out. so they would cover every event in the city and again in the evening. well the pattons became famous for their tea and you can probably guess that they became
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spinsters. and were serving tea into the 1930s. two of the patton sisters it married. the first was suggest ta who married missouri representative john glover. the couple made a big mistake moving into the house with the sisters. glover was the first male ever to live in the house. shortly thereafter a big feud broke out with the glovers about augusta's ip harristance because apparently anastasia of lent him money, not a lot but they sheent lent him money. the sisters claimed that was augusta's inheritance and he claimed it was just a loan to cover a political campaign. they got excommunicated from the family and she never returned. another sister edith waited till 1801 to marry. she married general henry koushen, a civil war general. imagine how old he was in 1901.
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well, is the marriage lasted six years and he died. one of the interesting things about edith in 1901 was she still hadn't received her inharristance and the one of the things in the mother's will was that no daughter could get their inharristance if they were going to get married the other sisters had to give their blessing. well they gave their blessing to general corbin but years before edith was engaged to somebody else norris gentleman and the invitations had been sent out. it was in the paper, at the last minute, the sisters decided they didn't approve and it all had to be caused off. the lighters i'm call cag the par venues par excellence. as i said, they would change the face of washington society. they want had been running the blaine house in the 1880s for the exorbitant sum of $11,500 a
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year. i haven't done the calculations as to how much that is in today's dollars but it's a lot. and they were proudly telling everybody how much they were paying for rent trying to give the impression that money was no obstacle. but everyone in town realized that they were just suckers and being taken in by blaine. levi leiter was one of the fou s of marshall fields, what later became marshall fields department store. and when he decided, he was worth over a billion dollars in today's money. but that said in, 1891 the leiters decided to make washington their permanent home. they had just been coming here for the social season which ran from about thanksgiving till about lent and then everyone left town. they either went to such places as newport or bar harbor or if you didn't get an invitation to one of those places you disappeared to europe to the summer. worst thing to would be in town. of course, the cave dwellers had to stay in town and didn't
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have money and watched all the wealthy people come and go. mary leiter, mrs. leiter was a very ambitious. she was a school teacher before she was married in chicago. and she was famous for her malan props. and several of them you've probably heard. once when she was coming back from a trip to europe, the press met her on the dock and said mrs. leiter how does it feel to be back in the united states. to which she replied she was relieved to have her feet on american terracotta again. one of her favorite things to do was to show guests in the house one of her acquisitions from europe which she said was the bust of her daughter's hand by rodin. one point margaret cassini the daughter of the russian ambassador was at a dinner at the leiters and she had her first taste of terrapin soup which was always a starter course at this time. it was a delicacy.
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she didn't like it and she pushed the bowl away. mary leiter was on the other end of the table and she stood up and she yelled, she said you can't refuse my terrapin. it coughs $100 a bowl. so that quickly made the press. but in the end people like to talk about the leiters they like to laugh about them but everyone ended up loving them. and were very happy to receive an invitation to their house. at the same time, you were never quite sure how you would be received. if mary threw a ball, sometimes she would run a silk rope across the ballroom and on one side was her "a" list guests and on the other side was everybody else. so you just didn't know which side you were going to be on. at one point, mary had a direct battle with the cave dwellers. when their youngest daughter daisy was time for her to come out, mary scheduled a cotillon ball but it happened to be the same night that cave dwellers are holding their annual
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subscription dance so the cave dwellers wrote to mary and said would you consider moving the night of your cotillian because it's the same night. mary wrote back and said no move yours. well, war broke out. and society in the washington was quite upset because many were receiving invitations to both events. and mary leiter made it very clear if you did not show up at her cotillon you would be stricken from her invitee list. so the plan was to go to the cave dwellers ball first and then move on to mary leiter's. but when everyone got to the cave dwellers ball the old women were block the doors so nobody could leave. so julia grant's grandson, general sar taurus who received an invitation to both figured out he would bribe one of the waiters to let him out through the kitchen and he ran across dupont circle and made it to
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mary leiter's in time. well everyone else figured most people figured this out too and got out and the waiter had his pockets stuffed full of money. a few didn't. they were left cowering on the other side of the door with the cave dwellers staring at them. but mary was so significant that the par venues who had been looked down upon for years actually became elevated to their own social set. which was nicknamed the smart set and mary was the reigning queen of the smart set. the leiters had four children. two daughters and one son. the daughters were the -- were pages out of edith wharton's the buccaneers because mary leiter realized to elevate her position in society even higher, if her daughters could marry titled europeans, all the better. so it worked. mary victoria the eldest married
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lord george ker zon in 1895 with a huge wedding at st. john's church. the president attended. everybody attended. lord ker zon became the viceroy roy of india and mary became the vis rin na of india. when she died in 1903, she was the highest ranking american in the british court at the time. nancy the middle daughter you can see, she got all the looks in the family. when she was visiting mary victoria in india met colonel colin clark. and fell in love and they got married. and daisy who had the famous cotillon married the erl of suffolk. the son joseph was quite interesting. and quite a robber baron in his own right. when he graduated from harvard, his father gave him $1 million just to see what he could do with it. well, joseph used it and he tried to corner the wheat market in chicago. well, other traders found out
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and the bottom fell out of the wheat market and joseph lost a million dollars and more and his father had to bail him out. but he earned it back multiple after that. he was known for and he also inherited the house, as well. but he was phone known for extravagant spending. at one point he would buy a thousand pair of silk sox. at one point when he actually tried to purchase the great wall of china, his sister daisy decided that was enough and she sued him for financial mismanagement of the family estate. this was in court for years and she ultimately lost. one person i find very interesting is a person who made the transition from cave dweller to the smart set and that was mary minnie townsend who spent her early years on lafayette square. her father was a congressman everyone pennsylvania and he owned a good sized house at 292
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jackson place. minnie married richard townsend who was then president of the erie and pittsburgh railroads. you can imagine how much railroad presidents were making at the time and she decided she wanted to move back to washington to take part in society life again. they moved back into the father's old house which wasn't large enough. so she the had a very large dining room put on because at the time, the thing to do was have large dinner parties. the intimate teas of the cave dwellers were pass say. so you entertained as lavishly as you could at dipper and the more guests the better. well, that dining room proved not to be largest enough so mary went looking for another home "she set her eyes on hillier's house across the street. now, one interesting thing about mary was she had this incredible phobia. she believed if sheep ever moved into a new house, she would die. so the hillier house even though
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large was still not large enough for mary's entertaining that she needed a ballroom and she needed basically a banquet hall. so she worked with the architects took hillier's house and encased and expanded it so when you look at this now the club, i jumped the gun at that the original house is somewhere inside of this there. soern closets inside the club you can still see is the original house or if you get around the back you can see part of an original face. so mary had her way. she had a large house and it wasn't new and she and richard moved in but richard was riding a horse in rock creek that year that they moved in and was thrown and killed. so maybe in pinnie didn't dispel the curse. minnie was wise. she made friends with the patton sisters across the street. you didn't want them against you
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but they were quite prudish by this point. it was 1900 already and they probably weren't privy to everything that was going on in the townsend house. minnie had a reputation for arranging and hosting it trysts in the house. one notable one was with sissy pat he were son and a german dip poe plat. so my guess is the patton sisters didn't know anything about this. minnie was also known for lavish entertaining and at one point her budget per year was said to be $240,000 in old money. as i said, the cosmos club eventually acquired the building in 1950. minnie was a little distraught because during her first dinner party she had to pull the guests away from her front windows. they were all staring across the street wondering what was going on. across the street are the anderson mansion was starting to go up and minnie and the
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andersons were friends but often competitive socially about who could throw the bigger galas. so this this was 1902. as i said lars was the son of nicolas anderson who was living on 16th and k street or he had died at this point. his mother still lived in the house on 16th and k. lars anise bell could have moved into that house but at that point, this heavy richardsonian house was not stylish. and it was not in the in then vogue area of town which was dupont circle. when lars maertd isabel, isabell had just recently inherited $17 million. and i spent some time trying to calculate what that is in today's dollars and i came up with several figures. " low end is in today's dollars is $378 million. on the high end, depending on how it's measured, dollars
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buying power today, or in power and influence it's up to $11.7 billion. anyway isabell was the wealthiest woman in america when she married lars. so they had actually bought these house lots from the patton sisters and it's said that the andersons never felt totally comfortable in this house because the patton sisters were spy on them. they'd look out the windows, keep a list of who was coming and going. they were known to be talking to the staff here about what was going on in the house and then they would call lars' mother and tell her. now, lars' mother was a very proper society woman cave dweller and she didn't approve and lars was getting a earful. so it wasn't always the best fit in here. lars had a distinguished but short diplomatic career. through his friend from harvard, robert todd lincoln he got an appointment in the court of st.
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james. from there he became the first secretary of the embassy in rome and then served one year stints at 9 minister to both belgium and japan but after that decided he had enough of working life and pretty much retired. but no one entertained like the andersons. this seems like a shot out of downton abby. the andersons were somewhat in my mind outliers it socially. they had their foot in the almost all of washington social spheres. they loved to entertain and they entertained official so the, cave dwellers are foreign dignitaries all with a wealth and os tentitiouses they nat smart set could the only hope for. the andersons would throw huge dinners and at staff would be dressed in full delivery with white wigs, tail coats with buttons and knickers and patent shoes. isabell was not at idle society
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woman. she was also an author and wrote several children's books and plays. she wrote a book about her life in washington called "presidents and pies." and it's kind after interesting read. it's written from the top down from society. and she seems very innocent describing all the events and the wonderful people and what they were wearing and where they went and what they ate. and she seemed kind of to miss the darker underbelly of washington society. but in her book she does innocently mention introducing the italian duke of brutecy to catherine elkins who is the daughter of representative steven elkins one of the official society. of this started a torrid affair. everyone assumed that catherine was going to marry her childhood friend william or billy hit.
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had the affair went on for years. she would disappear to europe and there would be reports of a tryst and certain inned baen baden or wherever. she would come back and deny it and the duke would deny it. at one point, they were planning on getting married supposedly in the dowager queen of spain refused to let them get married. he then tried to renounce his title. that the didn't work. elkins tried to offer a dowry of a million dollars but that didn't dissuade the dowager queen. so after one of their last trysts, catherine just came back to washington and suddenly in surprise to everybody married billy hit. the duke died brokenhearted years later. when he died there was one photograph in his parlor of catherine elkins. her marriage to billy hit didn't
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last very long. she took a boat to the paris and he was notified that she was in paris seeking a divorce. he took the boat over met her there. and they got divorced and on the way back they were not only in the same boat, they shared the same cabin. other passengers were remarking are you sure they're divorced. so they came back and led separate lives and then two years later, are they got married again. billy hit grew up in a house which is no longer there across from the leiters. his mother was way cave dweller. the house is now the sight of books a million. that was torn down in the '60s. during world war i, everyone in town was expected to contribute to the war effort. and society's women were no exception. during the war, maybe boardman
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whose house i mentioned is now the iraqi counsel, was heading up the american red cross and was organizing society women in town for the war effort and that meant sewing clothes, sending packages to the front. she was having a meeting one afternoon with isabell anderson and i'm not really quite sure how this came about but suddenly, maybe board man came up with the idea of the washington refreshment corps which in her mind would feed soldiers passing through washington. now, i'm not quite sure if she was serious about this or she was just trying to find something for isabell to do. isabell took it and ran. she starred off with 36 volunteers and ended up with 150 in charge of daily stocking a kennel trailer and a sandwich truck which you can see. this is the staff in the backyard of the anderson house.
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preparing sandwiches. and this is her famous traveling kitchen truck. she also housed the truck overnight in the anderson carriage house. but isabell took her tense of responsibility a step further and a lot further than most washington society women did. in 1917, isabell left for europe and spent eight months in service on the front the american red cross servicing a canteen. and working in hospitals in both belgium and france on the fronts. she was later awarded the french, the royal belgian medal of elizabeth with the red cross and the american red cross canteen medal. it was funny because i had read presidents and pies and i was rereading it again a few days ago. i said she barely mentions going abroad. and then a very careful read every once in awhile she'll mention the front or on the
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front but never a description of any of the horrible experiences and sights she must have seen there. so i think for this book she just wanted to focus on pleasant life in washington. after the war, the andersons were barely in washington. hardly at all. they rented the house out to foreign dignitaries ambassadors and their staff. lars died in 1937 anise bell hadding no use for this wonderful house and according to lars' wishes donated to the society of cincinnati anise bell died in 1948 at the age of 72. they are both interred in washington national cathedral. so just to to close up on personages in the neighborhood, lars had a cousin nicolas longworth. he was a representative from ohio and long-term it were speaker of the house. nicolas married alice roosevelt, teddy roosevelt's eldest
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daughter and in 1925, they bought the house at 2,09 massachusetts avenue and moved in. they moved in with their 1-year-old daughter paulina. now paul lip na and this is by alice's own admission was not nicolas's child. alice had been having a long-term affair with senator william bora and this was his child. and when alice was carrying paulina, she was thinking of calling her deny bora. and that was a play on the name deborah and an bora. deborah. but people got wend of this and started referring to her as aurora bora alice and she became simply paulina. nicolas died in 1931. and alice stayed in the house and became pretty much a
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political power house and broker. she could make or break a political career if you wanted a political career, you got to try to get on her good side, which was not easy and to keep your career, you stayed on it. at one point, people said that she cost dewey the presidential election because she referred to him publicly as that little man on the wedding cake with his pencil moustache. speaking of her equips at one party, joe mccarthy walked up and said i think i'm going to call you alice and she responded the trashman and the policeman on my block call me alice but you may not. she told linden johnson that she wore wide briped hats to keep him from kissing her. at up with point he insisted on showing her his appendix scar and she turned around and blurted out thank god it wasn't his prostate. so of all the quips i think the
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one alice is most noted for which made it to the needle point on her cushion was if you capital say something good about somebody, come sit here by me. there are several versions of this and i think this one got boiled down so it could actually fit on her pillow. alice stayed in the house for years. she stayed in the house on massachusetts avenue during the riots of the 1960s. one night she opened her window and got a tasteful of tear gas as the police were is out trying to dispel dem mon straighters and they said well, mrs. longworth how did you deal with the tear gas? and she said that it cleared her seen newses. seen newses. eventually she adopted her grabbed daughter it was quite a legal bat with the father's family and the grabbed daughter became the daughter that alice never had, paulina ended up earlier committing suicide sadly. and she always had a very torrid
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relationship with her mother. so the granddaughter took over and really kept an eye on her. especially in her last years. one of the last book talks i gave a woman came up to me afterwards and she said that she had interviewed alice roosevelt longworth on the occasion of her 90th birthday in her house. i was like oh my gosh. she said she was a new reporter for news week and this was her first assignment and she went over and alice could never remember who she was or why she was there so it was hard getting a interview out of her. alice died in 1980 at the age of 96. she was the first of teddy roosevelt's children to be born and the last to die. it was quite a long span. and also to me she was the last surviving scion of the dupont circle's gilded age and she actually survived it by 60 plus years. so with that, i'd like to.could
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include and be happy to answer any questions that you might have. [ applause ] yes, i think there's a microphone. can you -- >> i'm just womandering in terms of social relations did the andersons socialize with the walshs? >> yes. >> they did? >> they socialized with everybody. >> was alice's house -- >> yes it is. i think it's currently under scaffold. it is now the home to a law firm, international law firm. so, are,. >> is it true that alice --
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guides around dupont circle. >> yes, it is. the question is -- did alice go with midnight rides with her friends around dupont circle. margaret cassini, the russian ambassador ambassador's daughter had a car. and she would sneak out of house late at night, get in the car take off are swing by the white house, pick up alice and then pick up a couple other friends sissy patterson at one point and the police had stopped had he ever several times for speeding around dupont circle for going over over 15 miles an hour. >> they would go on horses, gallop horses around all this area? >> i know it was a car and i know that -- ca seen knee liked to ride in rock creek park. >> i can also just talk loudly. so what was alice's relationship with fdr? i know there was a bit of tension between the two sides of the family.
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do you know anything about that relationship? >> yes, alice really to put it mildly did not like fdr. alice was a republican. fdr was the other side of the family. but strangely eleanor was alice's cousin. and franklin was a second cousin. and alice through most of eleanor's life was not very kind to her either. quite vicious. but in that i ever later years, they convened of mended ways and became friends but she never supported fdr. it was very outspoken about it. >> hi. i know that you spoke about some members of congress that came and frequented dupont circle. but i know that some supreme court justices also frequented the circle. >> yes. >> did your research turn anything up about that?
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>> yes reggie there were self supreme court justices who did live in due pop the circle, basically along massachusetts avenue between 17th and circle and with so many people staring at me, i can't tell you which ones. but yes. >> great houses of that aim remain now in washington? >>ing in washington? >> i mean the brew master's castle, this house. how many of the houses are still here and not have not been bulldozed and made into office buildings? >> well tonight i focused right around dupont circle, but if you go up new hampshire which was the prime spot after the leiters had fers built at the foot of new hampshire, there are still grand boex arts mansions up there. coming out this way, probably five or -- well not the grand
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grand beau boux arts palaces but some very significant brick houses still stand like the phillips house. so i'd say tens. and anything south of du pont is gone basically. so -- >> one more question. i'm wondering how the higher risks did fit in with the society around here? were they accepted everywhere too or part of the par venues or the old the cave dwellers? >> that's a good question. christian technically i guess you could say he was part of the smart set. but also is he was a foreigner. he wasn't part of the diplomatic set and he tended to be a workaholic. so he wasn't that social.
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i don't think he fit in too much into the social life this part of the circle. he was very wrapped up in the german immigrant community. so i think that's a lot where his social energies went. [ applause ] >> with congress out this week for their spring recess, we're featuring "american history tv" in primetime. up next historian kenneth bowling recounts the story of how washington, d.c. became the capital of the united states. his lecture examines how the location was chosen and the figures that shaped its creation. including the story of the plan architect peter charles lals font presented to president george washington in 1791. this session from the smithsonian associates and

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