tv American Artifacts Willard Hotel CSPAN December 17, 2017 6:00pm-6:30pm EST
>> you can watch this and other american history programs on our website, where all our video is archived area that is /history. each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic laces to learn about american history. located in the heart of washington dc, the willard hotel has been a witness to history for 200 years. included abraham lincoln, mark twain, world war ii soldiers, and i represent the partnership that owns this access and today
you will hear a lot about its rich history. hello, welcome to the willard hotel, located two blocks away from the white house. we are very fortunate to have this location. we give our thanks to captain john taylor, who was reputed to be one of for genia's wealthiest plantation owners. ofwas a friend and supporter george washington. in 1860, he built the two-story dwelling. washington at the time was not really a city, more of a town.
on a rainy day, some avenues were rivers. debris fromdry, construction building the president's mansion was everywhere. sts and and --touri people coming to the town found sparse accommodations. as washington, d.c. grew as the capital, so did the willard hotel. everything happened within 10 blocks of the white house. if you walked out the front door , exactly one mile from here is the capital, just on the other side is the treasury building
and the white house. you can understand how people built their homes and the center of washington became this corner, 14th and pennsylvania avenue. benjamin taylor realized that to keep pace with what was going on in other cities in the u.s. and to bring the modernization into the hotel business and into washington, he had to bring someone in to run the hotel. 1847, there818 and were several different managers. became, henry willard the manager. from that time forward, the willard family played a prominent role for the next 100 years. henry willard came from vermont
and was a very energetic businessman. took ahis brother steamship on the hudson. the fiancee of benjamin taylor met hundred willard on a trip. she was impressed. mentioned needing a manager, she recommended willard. 1847, henry willard moved to washington to manage the hotel. he wanted a grand hotel to run on a grand plan. it had 100 hotel rooms and a beautiful entrance.
thatd a women's entrance went to a private lounge. there was entertainment almost every night. there was a private dining room for ladies and gentlemen. henry willard decided the hotel would be the finest in the city. it was reported that one of his leave the hotel at 3:00 every morning to pick fresh produce. politicians were not professional like that time. congress did not meet year-round . so people who came to washington had to find places to stay. they often stayed in boarding houses or other people's homes. pennsylvania avenue was known as the avenue of america because
there were so many hotels. the willard family, when they were brought in by the owners to upgrade the status of the property, wanted to bring in all of those things that people had been experiencing in other cities, including in europe and new york. inry clay came to washington 1808. ourbon.burden --b discovered that washingtonians were drinking mint juleps with rum or brandy. he was appalled and decided to show people the proper way to make a mint julep. southern style, with kentucky straight bourbon whiskey.
practice that legacy here, using henry clay's original recipe. congress, heing of would bring a barrel of bourbon whiskey and invite members of congress on both sides of the to join him in toasting the new legislation -- new legislative session. had kentuckytly distillers come to washington to --itor the senator and the to honor the senator and the legacy that was established in the hotel. senator henry clay was known as a great compromiser. what better way to compromise after battling on capitol hill then to retire to the bar at the willard hotel and have a mint
julep? john c calhoun was known as the great antagonize her and daniel webster was the great order. these gentlemen set the stage for the war in 1860. the willard hotel was known as a place where people could get together on a bipartisan -- in a bipartisan manner and discuss the issues of the day. daily -- peacock alley was a women's section.
they decided that the dwelling should be united. the frame was torn down and a new brick for sod was added. brickterior -- and a new for sod --facade was added. --won,anklin pierce he became the first president to visit the willard hotel. in addition to having congressman and businessmen stay at the hotel, the willard attracted foreign dignitaries, especially the japanese delegation. u.s. toe headed to the
visit with president you can and an.uchan at that time there were no dignitaries. -- at that time there was no housing for dignitaries. the willard took on the job. an entire floor of 60 rooms was given to the delegation. security was hired to take care of any problems. found our style of eating and clothing to be very foin but they -- to be very
reign to them, but they enjoyed it. the 1860's, the willard had attracted several groups of people. they continued to do this and at ,he beginning of the 1860's washington was a focal point. we are now in the abraham lincoln suite. lincoln did not stay in this room. it was named after him because -- let's go back to what washington was like in 1860. there was a lot of focus on military and political activity. hotel demand was great and hotels were able to raise their rates to four dollars per night.
willard hall was a large states room. a convention was held from february 4 through for board seventh in 1861 and it had 131 politicians from 21 states and former president tyler was chair of it. it failed, and the civil war started. the arrival of abraham lincoln to washington was met with excitement. growing, maryland was so the defendant to the southern cause. willard was concerned about them
safety of abraham lincoln traveling to washington. so it was decided that abraham lincoln would be removed from the last railcar in the baltimore depot and take it to washington dc. he was smuggled in disguise through the ladies entrance and taken immediately to a suite in the second floor. when he arrived, a piece of wasr on an envelope delivered with the note, the president is here. he stayed for 10 days. his he introduced himself, inauguration brought magnitudes of people to the hotel.
and the willard found itself brought in 475 mattresses. people were sleeping in the hallways and stairwells. as first check he wrote president was to pay his willard hotel bill. grant also stayed here. when he was here to check in, he did not have on his uniform and no one recognized him. times. back multiple he liked to smoke a cigar and sit by the fire. a lot of businessmen took the opportunity of president grant sitting in the lobby to ask for favors. president grant called them lobbyists.
a spy who was caught and fell in love with willard. he fought to get her released. major willard resigned from the army and the two of them married. , onehad several children of them was born in the hotel. >> the willard family experienced tremendous success with the hotel during and after the war. as the country grew, the city grew. around there blocks
white house extended to the northwest up connecticut avenue. the willard family realized that in order to keep pace, they needed to upgrade the hotel. so the second generation, joseph captain, ins the 1901 he inherited the willard hotel. of almost bringing his brothers and relatives together to work together and grow this property. he went to new york and brought in a number one architect who had built the waldorf-astoria.
hotel thate finest washington had ever seen. the project started in 1901. they did not want to lose business or the identity they had built over the last 100 years. in the 1920's, they expanded the willard hotel to over 400 rooms. the structure was the tallest building in washington. there was a fantastic ballroom on the top floor. the top floor had a 30 foot ceiling and was able to accommodate over 1000 people. it was magnificent. it was the cornerstone of downtown washington for many years. the willard hotel experienced tremendous success in the early 1900s.
with the depression in the 1920's, as the rest of the country experienced depression, so did the willard hotel. both financially and structurally. there was a fire in the ballroom unable tod they were restore that area. during the depression, there is a story about the veterans from world war i. the early 1930's they marched on washington to ask the government to release their pension money early. anacostia.amping by family heard about their plight, that they were encamped in anacostia.
she had her chauffeur drive her to the willard hotel, walked in, and asked to see the manager. she asked him if she could order 5000 sandwiches and lemonade and ice-t for the marchers, as well as several thousand packs of cigarettes. eager to accommodate, the manager honored her request and had the items delivered to the marchers. that gives you kind of an idea how closely aligned the willard family, over 200 years, were aware of what the needs were of the city and its inhabitants, whether they were affluent or not. that tradition continued through the 1930's and 1940's. the patent office, being in
close proximity, you had a lot of people visiting washington with new ideas, whether it be elevator, steam or gas engines, air-conditioning, you name it. those ideas would come across the willard, either in the lobby or at the round-robin bar. were,as astute as they the family members always had their year to the ground to find out what the latest -- had their --ear tohe ground the ground. running water and actual bathroom accommodations in individual rooms. in the turn-of-the-century, you
had the new willard, as it was known in 1901 on the corner of 14th and pennsylvania. you had all these modern accommodations that bedazzled people. people were visiting washington for the first time, visiting capitol hill and the white house, here is this beautiful hotel with a grand lobby and peacock alley and modern conveniences that they were not used to at home. it is fascinating, talking to people who visited washington for the first time, in the 1940's during world war ii, different things they had experienced. i spoke with a gentleman who had stayed at the willard hotel.
it was said if you walked into the willard hotel and you had a uniform on, you were given accommodations if they were available. allas a welcoming place for service members. many people, their first experience in washington was staying at the willard hotel when they were 18 or 19 years old prior to going overseas to fight in world war ii. when many of those people they did the dedication for the world war ii memorial. they spoke about their recollections of what it was like to be at the willard hotel in the 1940's. was theleman said it middle of the summer and he had never been to a big city or on a train. he was staying at the willard hotel, and it was so hot, but the lobby was so cool and comfortable because they had these large tax of ice and large
fans blowing cold air. he said he slept on two chairs off of the lobby for three nights because a was so comfortable. it is that kind of experience that, you are talking with people about what it was like to attend a high school graduation at the will are hotel in the 1950's. in the grand ballroom at the top floor were french doors that opened onto a balcony that overlooked the whole city. what a glorious place it was to visit. sadly, the willard family decided to get out of the hotel business in the 1940's and they sold their interest to a new york group. the able group. half a million dollars into renovating and modernizing the hotel.
tradition that had started many years before, keeping the willard modern. they did a massive renovation of the hotel in terms of style and convenience. that continued into the 1960's. area,gton dc, as an urban changed considerably. the whole center of washington had moved. there was very little downtown in terms of residential for people. the entire shopping district and market area of washington had moved. slowly, the hotel deteriorated in terms of good and services. by the 1960's, it was necessary to close the hotel. >> and when president john f.
kennedy traveled, he decided there had to be improvements to pennsylvania avenue. development corporation. he wanted pennsylvania avenue to be the avenue of everyone's dreams. the commission decided the willard hotel should be demolished and open park space should be created. an auction was held. admission was one dollar. the hotel was stripped of everything. see 48lobby, you will tiles were removed. in the restoration, we restored them. chandeliers were taken. the ballroom was stripped of its a lot of we lost
beautiful architecture in the hotel. after a 15 year battle, it was decided that public affection would save the hotel and it would be restored. it was a three-year process to bring it back. there is something special about the willard. it is born not just from its architecture, but that this was a place that has witnessed history being made and had wonderful people coming to it. announcer: you can watch this and other programs by visiting our website at c-span.org/history. >> jefferson probably knew more about more things than any single man in north america. i am including franklin and that . everyone was impressed by the extent of his knowledge. adams was smart but he did not
adth.the brett --bredth jefferson was not as interested in the law as adams. announcer: tonight on q&a, gordon would on his book -- gordon wood on his book. .> adams was a realist he thought all men were created on equal. jefferson was the opposite. think that is what most americans believe. equal and then differences that emerge are due to different experiences and environments. that is why education is so important to us americans.
were two0 seven, there battles that were fought here in saratoga. -- in 1777 there were two battles fought here near saratoga. they turned out to be the turning point of the revolutionary war. we talk with eric schnitzer here at the historic national park. >> the new york times magazine says the battle of saratoga was the most important battle ever fought in the last 1000 years because they resulted in a general surrender. it was the first time in history that a british army surrendered. we are located at one of the places at saratoga national park where the battles were fought in 1777 during the american war for independence.