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Locating the Site


Map 1: Lafayette park and its surroundings, 1891.
[Graphic] Map 1 with link to higher quality image.

(Adapted from a diagram originally appearing in Leslie's Popular Monthly, Jan-June 1891; reprinted in Decatur House, edited by Helen Duprey Bullock (Washington, D.C.: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1967.)

Former or present residents of Lafayette Park as of 1891 included: Reverdy Johnson, senator and minister to England; James Buchanan; Benjamin Harrison; the Prince of Wales; William L. Marcy, secretary of war and secretary of state; Lewis Cass, secretary of war and secretary of state; Senator Pomeroy; Lord Ashburton; John Hay, poet and historian; Henry Adams, author; Walter A. Wood, inventor and manufacturer; Daniel Webster; Admiral Shubrick; Judge Bancroft Davis, secretary of state and minister to Germany; Commodore Stephen Decatur; Henry Clay; Martin Van Buren, vice president; John Gadsby; George M. Dallas, vice president; General Beale; Senator James G. Blaine; Charles Glover, banker; Commodore Stockton; General Daniel E. Sickles; Peter Parker, minister to China; James Madison; Dolley Madison; General McClellan; William Windom, secretary of the treasury; Senator Don. Cameron; Henry Clay; John C. Calhoun, vice president; and William H. Seward, secretary of state.

Drawing 1: Benjamin Latrobe's 1816 drawing of
President's Park.
[Graphic] Drawing 1 with link to higher quality drawing.
(Historic Collections, St. John's Episcopal Church, Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.)

Drawing 1 is a view of St. John's Church and the presidents' house in 1816, before Decatur House was built. In June 1818, Stephen Decatur bought 19 lots on President's Park. In consultation with Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the finest and most fashionable architect of the era, he chose to build his home on the most prominent of the lots. He decided that the site across the street from the northwest corner of the open park would provide a perfect view of the president's house and an unobstructed path to the newly-built St. John's Church. He planned to hold the other lots to sell when the price of property went up.

Questions for Map 1 and Drawing 1

1. Locate St. John's Church, the White House, and Decatur House on Map 1. How had the park and area around it changed between 1816 and 1891?

2. What kinds of occupations were held by the people who lived on Lafayette Park? Does the list help you understand the attraction Lafayette Park held for well-connected, influential people? What names do you recognize from the key?

* The map on the screen has a resolution of 72 dots per inch (dpi), and therefore will print poorly. You can obtain a high quality version of the map and drawing, but be aware that the file will take as much as two minutes to load with a 28.8K modem.

 

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National Park Service arrowhead with link to NPS website.