Foreword; White House History (Number 27)
How Long? 2 minutes
We at the White House Historical Association are relative newcomers to Lafayette Square. The windows of our brick town houses look out on Lafayette Park. A distinction is made between the two “Lafayettes,” the park in the middle, with the square referring to the buildings that face it along the sides. The White House is set back considerably from the south end, up on a considerable rise from the level of the park and Pennsylvania Avenue. A more harmonious scene of buildings, streets, sidewalks, and trees could hardly be imagined.
Nor might one imagine a neighborhood more evocative of its history. In this issue of the journal, the first of two on Lafayette Square, we visit some of that history in buildings and those who either built or inhabited them. Some still stand, while others are gone—some long gone. Examples of the first are Saint John’s Church and Blair House, of the second are the original executive offices and W. W. Corcoran’s magnificent house. Crowning the park is the bronze equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, created by an amazing amateur and put up as the nation was falling apart, less than a decade before the Civil War.
The White House Historical Association, nearing thirty years’ residence on the square, expanded into Decatur House next door only this year. With the new education and research center comes the historical inspiration provided by an old house that has sheltered many famous Americans, a number of whom had ambitions—none realized—to move to the White House nearby.
You Might Also Like
Podcast Decatur House, the President’s Neighbor
For two hundred years, Decatur House has stood as a near neighbor to the White House across Lafayette Square. Stewart...
Collection The Decatur House Slave Quarters
In 1821-1822, Susan Decatur requested the construction of a service wing. The first floor featured a large kitchen, dining room,...
Collection The Historic Stephen Decatur House
In 1816, Commodore Stephen Decatur, Jr. and his wife Susan moved to the nascent capital city of Washington, D.C. With...
Collection The President's Neighborhood
Since the White House was first occupied by President John Adams in 1800, influential people and organizations—or those who hoped to...
About Our Authors
AuthorsJAMES ARCHER ABBOTT is a graduate of Vassar College (B.A.) and the State University of New York’s Museum St...
2022 2022 American Best Book Award Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration and Its Legacy, Finalist, Best Cover Design: Nonfiction How...
African Americans in Lafayette Square, 1795-1965
The phrase "The Half Had Not Been Told Me" is taken from a Biblical reference Frederick Douglass used to describe...
Recent Book Releases
Official Residences Around the World by Abby Clouse-Radigan This survey of the official residences and offices of some fifty nations...
Rights and Reproductions Guidelines
Thank you for your interest in the White House Historical Association's image collection. Before proceeding with your order, please review...
The United Kingdom and Ireland in the White House: A Conversation on Historical Perspectives
May 3, 2018 8:00 am - 9:00 am Registration and light breakfast in Decatur House Parlors9:00 am - 9:20 am Welcome and OverviewThe Hon. Frederick...
The Presidency and Historic Preservation Symposium Schedule
Decatur House 8:00-8:45am Light Breakfast 8:45-9:00am Transition to the Carriage House 9:00-9:15am Welcome Stewart McLaurin, President, The...