Francis Scott Key Lived in This Georgetown House

It’s so sad that this house no longer stands. The house stood roughly where Key Bridge enters Georgetown today. The address was 3518 M St. NW.

View of the M Street NW elevation of the two-story Key Mansion with Key's single-story law office attached to west side of structure. A portion of the commercial building continuing west along the street is also visible.
View of the M Street NW elevation of the two-story Key Mansion with Key’s single-story law office attached to west side of structure. A portion of the commercial building continuing west along the street is also visible.

Source: Dig DC

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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  • Terry

    I recall hearing, or maybe reading in the Post, that the Key house was dismantled for the construction of the Key Bridge and the parts of the house were stored in a Parks Service warehouse somewhere. People lost track of what that pile of brick and wood was and people used the materials for other things over the years. Not sure if that’s the correct story, though.

  • ET

    There were some other great pictures at the Library of Congress if you type in Key mansion.

    I got interested in articles:
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86090383/1907-03-20/ed-1/seq-2/
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020558/1908-06-05/ed-1/seq-7/
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn86063381/1908-07-03/ed-1/seq-1/
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn89066129/1910-07-01/ed-1/seq-7/

    This 1920 article has a picture of the construction (which started in 1918) and indicates the mansion was at about the location of the bridge on the DC side. The 1922 mentions previous efforts to save it that were unsuccessful but says nothing about the materials when it was destroyed.
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042303/1920-11-28/ed-1/seq-7/
    http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045433/1922-11-26/ed-1/seq-40/

  • Thomas Mann

    It is widely accepted the Francis Scott Key Bridge between Georgetown, Washington, District of Columbia and Rosslyn, Virginia was named in recognition of Mr. Key’s authorship of our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, and justly so.

    But there may be more to the story. A nonagenarian Washingtonian related this story to me in the 1990s.

    The home of Francis Scott Key, at 3518 M Street, NW, lay in the path of the proposed project, and the occupants at that time understandably objected to having their home destroyed to make way for a new bridge. But knowing that eminent domain would eventually prevail, they decided to make the best deal that they could.

    Their negotiations were fruitful. In addition to memorializing their antecedent with one of Washington’s most magnificent structures, they were also successful in requiring that the existing home be disassembled brick by brick, crated, and stored until it could be rebuilt on an adjacent site subsequent to the completion of the new bridge.

    We know, of course, that the bridge exists, but what became of the bricks from the original Francis Scott Key house?

    Sadly, no one knows. Quite possibly the crates of bricks now rest in the same warehouse that the crate from Raiders of the Lost Ark rests.

    I have no idea whether this story is in any way factual, but like I always say, “If you haven’t heard a rumor by ten o’clock, start one.”