City Within a City
Greater U Street Heritage Trail #12
A Prestige Address
The grand Beaux-Arts buildings near this corner stand witness to the status of this area in early 20th century Washington, and as tribute to the indomitable spirit of Mary Foote Henderson. The wealthy wife of Senator John B. Henderson, she lived one block from here at 16th and Florida Avenue in a Romanesque castle and spent decades promoting 16th Street as the prestige address in the nation's capital. In the 1980s, she was instrumental in having 16th Street extended into the still undeveloped land just north of here.
Developers followed, and in 1900 the Balfour Apartment building went across the street to the west at a cost of $100,000, making it one of the most expensive structures of its kind in the city. Designed by Washington architect George S. Cooper, it offered 36 large, luxurious apartments.
Prestigious apartments continued to spring up in this neighborhood providing popular accommodations for congressmen, military personnel, and other federal government officials. The Northumberland, just north of here on the east side of the street at 2039 New Hampshire Avenue, is a remarkably preserved example. Architect Albert
A Prestige Address Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, January 27, 2018
2. A Prestige Address Marker
H. Beers created its Renaissance-inspired design in 1909 for prolific Washington builder Harry Wardman. The building featured such innovations as a public dining room, trash chutes from each kitchen, wall safes, and a telephone switchboard which has operated 24 hours a day since the building opened in 1910.
The impressive Beaux-Arts building on the corner behind you was built in 1914 for the Congressional Club, founded in 1908 on another site as a non-partisan gathering place for the spouses of members of Congress. Mary Henderson provided the land, substantial construction funds, and her favorite architect, George Oakley Totten, Jr. He designed nine other mansions for Mary Henderson along 16th Street, which she rented to foreign embassies. She even encouraged the president of the Untied States to move from the White House into her 16th Street neighborhood, but in that she did not succeed.