Beautiful Lost Gordon Hotel at 16th and I Streets

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Gordon Hotel
Gordon Hotel

Source: Library of Congress

Chances are that most of you aren’t familiar with the old Gordon Hotel (or just The Gordon). It has been long gone from the landscape of 16th St. NW, but once struck an imposing figure along one of the main arteries in the District. Above is a terrific old photograph of the building from 1921.

The Gordon sat at 916 16th St., NW, taking up the bulk of the corner at 16th and I St. According to an article in 1959, it was built in 1885. Below is a sad story of the building’s life coming to an end, printed in The Washington Post on July 13th.

Laments worthy of the mossiest old Southern mansion have been pouring in from all over the country the past two months to “Jonesie” (Inez DeGarmo), who manages the front desk of the Gordon Hotel.

The object of this affection is the 74-year-old, 6-story, vine-covered brick residential hotel at 916 16th st. nw. in the heart of downtown Washington’s glass-and-steel modernism.,

The hotel’s owners since 1952–The Mother CHurch, The First Church of Christ Scientist, of Boston, Mass.–have decided to raze the building this fall. What will go up in its place is not yet known.

For the Gordon’s 200 residents, many of them elderly or retired Government workers, the April 15 notice to vacate meant the loss not only of a home but of another part of “Old Washington.”

At the turn of the century the Gordon, with its 12-foot ceilings, hand-carved mantlepieces and parquet floors in every room, was  among Washington’s most fashionable spots, a favorite haunt of Congressmen. Admiral George Dewey, the hero of Manila Bay, held his receptions there.

By the time Mrs. Raymond Jennings, whose husband is now the leaseholder, took over the hotel 27 years ago, it had descended from the height of fashion.

She built it back up–this time into a place so homey the man at the desk would pay for a guest’s incoming packages and collect when he got around to it.

We dug up the old Baist map for 1903 and zoomed in on the intersection of 16th and I. You’ll notice the building marked “1” on the corner. That’s the Gordon Hotel.

16th and I St. NW
16th and I St. NW

Another bit of D.C. history bit the dust, and it’s its place was erected a horrifically ugly church. Now, that said, this ugly church has some historical significance, so I don’t know that I would advocate knocking that down today.

Today, this is what you’ll find at the location.

Third Church of Christ, Scientist located at 900 16th Street, Northwest in downtown Washington, D.C. The building was designed by Araldo Cossutta of I.M Pei & Partners, and is an example of brutalist architecture. The church's 2009 property value is $9,670,000.
Third Church of Christ, Scientist located at 900 16th Street, Northwest in downtown Washington, D.C. The building was designed by Araldo Cossutta of I.M Pei & Partners, and is an example of brutalist architecture. The church’s 2009 property value is $9,670,000.

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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  • LaQuare

    I thought that church was torn down more than a year ago.