Lost History / 21.01.2012

Here's a good one from the Library of Congress archives. It's a drawing of the proposed new Executive Mansion, to be built on Meridian Hill (where the park is today). It looks quite ostentatious for American tastes and, in my opinion, resembles Il Vittoriano in Piazza Venezia, Rome (look here ... thanks Andrea, great photo blog!). The drive for a new White House on the hill was really championed by Mary Foote Henderson, who happened to live across 16th St. from the hill. I'm sure she and her husband stood to see a mighty profit from an increase in land prices, because they had purchased enormous tracts of land up and down 16th St. Her hopes were to have a grand boulevard of embassies and fine mansions going up the street. These plans date back to 1900, right around the time when Teddy Roosevelt was looking to expand and built the West Wing due to overcrowding the White House. Luckily (in my mind), this never came to fruition. A great park was eventually built with the backing of Mrs. Henderson on Meridian Hill, topped off with a statue of Joan of Arc, a gift from France. Check out a closer view o the proposed giant mansion below. It's quite an amazing structure, far greater than the White House of today.