British Spare Rhodes Tavern, 1814
On August 24, 1814, after defeating the US forces at Bladensburg, MD, British soldiers entered the District of Columbia. At dusk, they torched the Capitol and headed to the Treasury and the White House. Soon after, British George Cockburn and General Robert Ross stopped at a boardinghouse at 15th St and Pennsylvania Ave, NW, and instructed its owner, Barbara Suter, to prepare a fine supper for them. Then they left to torch the White House and Treasury, and returned to eat their meal as the buildings burned.
While dining, General Ross asked Suter about the Bank of the Metropolis, the former location of Suter's boarding house, here on the corner of F St. Soon, the British commanders left, intent on burning down the three-story, Federal style brick bank building too. But at the bank, they were met by Sarah Sweeny, the bank's cleaning woman. In order to save the structure, she told the British officers that [the] bank rented its building, and its owner, a poor widow, depended on that rent as her sole source of income. Sweeney's [the placard spells her last name two different ways...] fiction convinced the British to spare the building, built in 1799 and formerly operated by William Rhodes as a tavern serving the federal government. Bank records reveal that Sweeny received a $100 bonus for her successful intervention.
Rhodes Tavern, a designated landmark, was torn down in 1984.
Artist: Ken Frye