< UNITED STATES | WASHINGTON: The Hay-Adams
The Hay-Adams, located across Lafayette Square from the White House, holds a special place in Washington, D.C. This classic hotel takes its name from earlier residents of its site: John Hay, private assistant to President Abraham Lincoln and later secretary of state, and Henry Adams, an acclaimed author and descendant of U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. Like their homes, the Hotel has long been a favorite gathering place in the Nation’s Capital.
Adams, his wife Marian, Hay, his wife Clara and geologist Clarence King became a close group of friends who dubbed themselves “The Five of Hearts,” complete with china and letterhead stationery.
In 1884, the Hays and Adamses bought adjoining lots at 16th and H Streets and asked renowned architect Henry Hobson Richardson to design their elaborate, Romanesque homes, which became Washington’s leading salons for years.
The far-ranging discussions of politics, literature, science and art attracted the era’s leading artists, writers and politicians, including Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, Henry James and sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Hay died in 1905, and when Clara died in 1914, ownership of the Hay house passed to daughter Alice Wadsworth and her husband, Sen. James Wadsworth. After Henry’s 1918 death, the Wadsworths bought the Adams house, which they leased to the Brazilian embassy.
Premier Washington developer Harry Wardman bought and razed both homes in 1927. In their place, he constructed an Italian Renaissance-style apartment hotel designed by architect Mirhan Mesrobian. The 138 room Hay-Adams House cost $900,000. It featured a dazzling array of architectural elements, including Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders, walnut wainscoting and intricate ceiling treatments with Tudor, Elizabethan and Italian motifs. Wood paneling from the Hay residence found a new home in the grand public space now known as The John Hay Room.
The Hay-Adams House opened in 1928 and quickly attracted prominent Washingtonians and elite travelers, including Charles Lindburgh, Ameila Earhart, Sinclair Lewis and Ethyl Barrymore. Guests were drawn to the Hotel by its unparalleled views of the White House, Lafayette Square and St. John’s Church as well as such amenities as large suites, kitchens, steam heat, an elevator, circulating ice water, marble baths, and as of 1930, Washington’s first air-conditioned dining room.
The Hay-Adams has maintained its reputation in the ensuing decades. The Iue Family of Japan acquired the hotel in 1989, and it is under the management of Hospitality Visions, LLC. In spring 2002, the Hay-Adams reopened after a stunning renovation that preserves its unique ambiance while enhancing the distinctive luxury features that make it the residence of choice for visitors to Washington.
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