DC Heritage Trails: Roads to Diversity: Adams Morgan Heritage Trail:
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- TRR2D_170909_02.JPG: Keeping a Nation Alive
Adams Morgan Heritage Trail
Lithuania's March to Freedom
Since 1924 this mansion has housed representatives of the Republic of Lithuania, even during the 50 years when the country was occupied by the Soviet Union.
In the late 1700s, the Russian Empire annexed Lithuania's territory, ending the 500-year-old state known as the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1918, at the close of World War I, Lithuania re-emerged as an independent nation. But once World War II broke out in 1939, Lithuania endured invasions by the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and again the Soviet Union. For the next 50 years, Lithuania disappeared into the Soviet orbit. Or did it?
Lithuania did not disappear. When the Soviet Union annexed Lithuania in 1940, Minister Plenipotentiary Povila Žadeikis refused to surrender this building. Žadeikis and his successors ensured that official Washington (and, thanks to Washington, other governments around the world) not only refused to recognize the Soviet annexation of Lithuania, but also continued to consider Lithuania an independent nation, aiding immensely in the campaign to throw off Soviet domination. The U.S. government also gave Lithuania's stranded diplomats access to Lithuanian gold deposited with the U.S. Federal Reserve. These funds helped keep the legation open while diplomats and Lithuanian immigrants promoted Lithuania's culture and independence.
Finally in 1990, as the Soviet Union was crumbling, Lithuania was the first republic to declare its independence. After citizens elected a new government, Soviet forces attempted to remove it by force, spurring tens of thousands of Lithuanians to occupy the streets of their capital Vilnius on January 13, 1991, and protect their elected officials. Moscow relented and the last Soviet troops left in August 1993.
- TRR2D_170909_04.JPG: Keeping the Nation alive: Chargé d'Affairs and Mrs. Juozas Kajectas celebrate Lithuanian Independence Day with Washington's Lithuanian American Society at St. Mathews Cathedral, February 1959.
- TRR2D_170909_10.JPG: President Ronald Reagan expresses solidarity by signing the Week of Occupied Nations Proclamation, 1982.
- TRR2D_170909_14.JPG: Two million citizens of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia formed a 370-mile human chain to peacefully protest Soviet domination in 1989. These Lithuanians lined the highway to Vilnius.
- TRR2D_170909_22.JPG: Chargé d'Affairs Stasys Lozoraitis who succeeded his father as diplomat-in-exile working for Lithuanian freedom, manned the embassy balcony the day after independence was declared on March 11, 1990.
- TRR2D_170909_25.JPG: Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis and family pose with president Barack Obama after Pavilionis presented his credentials as Lithuanian envoy, 2010.
- TRR2D_170909_30.JPG: Protestors demonstrate at the Soviet Embassy on 16th St. urging the Soviet Union to accept Lithuanian independence, 1990.
- TRR2D_170909_32.JPG: Lithuanian Head of State Vytautas Landsbergis shakes hands with President George H.W. Bush at a White House meeting where Bush reconfirmed U.S. support for a free and independent Lithuania, May 8, 1991.
- TRR2D_170909_37.JPG: In 1991 Lithuanians found their new freedom everywhere, it seemed. One very meaningful moment came when Lithuanian athletes competed in the 1992 Olympics under their own flag, not the Soviet Union's. Basketball fans still remember how, when Lithuanian players couldn't afford the travel, members of the Grateful Dead paid their way to Barcelona where they defeated the ex-USSR team to win the Bronze Medal. Players wore tie-dyed t-shirts combining the band's imagery with Lithuania's national colors.
- TRR2D_170909_43.JPG: Mrs. Henderson's Favorite Embassy
Adams Morgan Heritage Trail
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
You are standing in front of the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania.
The Spanish Baroque style mansion is all that remains of what was once a duplex, or double, embassy building designed by George Oakley Totten for Mary Foote Henderson's exclusive embassy enclave here. The mansion was constructed in 1907-08. The left-hand portion was demolished and replaced in 1965 by a nine-story apartment house. Fortunately the original two pieces were constructed to be independent, so the removal of the left side did not imperil the right.
The building surfaces are carved limestone. As he did in the dozen other buildings he designed as embassies for Henderson, architect Totten looked to Europe for design ideas. The tower, carvings, and upper stories supported by arcades take after the Palacio de Monterrey, built in the 1500s in Salamanca, Spain. Totten and Henderson were responsible for 12 grand mansions designed for foreign legations on or near Meridian Hill. The Embassy of Lithuania is one of nine that remain.
In 1908 the Danish ambassador rented the building from Henderson, shortly after the Swedish embassy took up residence next door. The ambassador stayed until 1912. Until Lithuanian Envoy Kazys Bizaukas purchased the house from Henderson in 1924, a series of foreign and domestic diplomats rented the elegant structure, giving parties that defined Washington's early 20th-century diplomatic scene.
Upon Henderson's death in 1931, her heirs discovered that after receiving $5,000, Henderson had refused any further payments from the Lithuanian government. The delegation occupied the residence for free until her heirs completed the delayed sales transaction.
In 2004 the embassy doubled the building's size with a rear addition for offices and conference space.
- TRR2D_170909_49.JPG: Embassy promoter Mary Foote Henderson was photographed at a horse show in 1915 with Colonel Robert M. Thompson, president of the American Olympic Association.
- TRR2D_170909_53.JPG: Totten's inspiration: Spain's Palacio de Monterrey
- TRR2D_170909_56.JPG: George Oakley Totten's double embassy in 1939. Only the right hand portion remains.
- TRR2D_170909_58.JPG: The Lithuanian Consulate in Chicago, 1924
- TRR2D_170909_60.JPG: Lithuanian Ambassador Kazys Bizauskas leaves the White House after presenting his credentials, 1924.
- TRR2D_170909_68.JPG: Ambassador Audrius Brüzga and Lithuania's delegates to the U.S. Cherry Blossom Festival host American and International princesses, 2009.
- TRR2D_170909_76.JPG: President Valdas Adamkus prepares a time capsule to be placed in the embassy's new addition, 2007.
- TRR2D_170909_77.JPG: The elegant arches and moldings of the Totten-designed embassy's second-floor dining room frame a table of refreshments.
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