Dorchester House: Close to Everything That is Washington (1941)

What a great old advertisement for Dorchester House, the giant apartment building at 16th and Kalorama. The building openeing in 1941 and one of its early residents was our 35th President, John F. Kennedy, then a 24-year-old, living with his sister Kathleen.

Dorchester House advertisement 1941
Dorchester House advertisement 1941

Gotta love this quote: “… a magnificent residential colony or superior quality.”

This is such an iconic building with a lot of history … probably time for a “Three Things…” or “If Walls Could Talk” post on it. What do you think?

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • Patrick

    Love it, especially the little illustrated call out ads for the “special features” . I wonder what the game room is like now.

  • I find it really interesting how much focus there seems to be on the landscaping and design of the common space, rather than the actual apartments. You wouldn’t see anyone commenting on the landscaping of the parking lot these days, but that can really make a difference in how a place feels.

  • soulshadow55

    Oh my goodness, I lived in the Dorchester House in my early 20ties and I loved it. I rented a huge studio apartment for $219.00 a month. Yes, that’s right – $219.00 a month. I can’t imagine what that apartment rents are now. My studio was large enough for a sofa bed and coffee table, dining room table, desk and bookcase with lots of room left over. Although the kitchen was super small, the closet and bathroom was like a large dressing room with two additional closets inside of it. You could close the outer closet door, shower and get dressed without your guests seeing you. Every morning I used to run laps in Meridian Hill Park. Back then I’d run past crack addicts, dead bodies and almost every morning some guy would flash his Johnson at me. When I moved out in 1996 my rent was $452 with $50 extra for parking and another fee for my air conditioner. With rent that low I was able to put myself through college on a legal secretary’s salary. It also meant that I didn’t need to have an endless string of roommates. It was my first apartment after moving away from my parents who lived in Columbia Heights. The location is so central to everything. Especially the law firms and administrative jobs that were so numerous in the K Street and DuPont Circle areas in the 1980’s. I used to walk to work and catch the subway to night school. My apartment was large and cozy and most of the time I couldn’t wait to get home. In the basement there was a dry cleaners and a useless convenience store. The only thing worth buying there was a Washington Post. Everything else was moldy and out of date. Once I bought a box of cereal and when I opened it little flying insects flew out! The washers and dryers were in the basement as well, but you had to walk a gallant of cockroaches that were as big as baby shoes to get to them. However, the rooftop deck made up for a lot of negatives, especially on the Fourth of July. There were lots of great people of all ages living there – we had a real sense of community and we cared for each other. During some of D.C.’s worst blizzards when cabin fever set in – we hung out in the lobby or went from apartment to apartment chit-chatting, eating and exchanging books. The Dorchester House holds a lot of good memories. I lived there until 1996 when I brought a row house and returned to Columbia Heights.