Notable People & Places, Other Cool Stuff / 02.03.2012

Way back in the day, the building we now know as the White House was called the "President's Palace", "President's Mansion", or the "President's House." The nomenclature evolved over time, with the accepted name for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue becoming the "Executive Mansion." It wasn't until Teddy Roosevelt's presidency that the building would be officially referred to at "The White House." In March 1792, the three appointed commissioners overseeing the planning and design of the new city (Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Carroll and David Stuart), put out an advertisement to all major towns in the United States calling for designs to be submitted for the new President's House.
A premium of five hundred dollars or a medal of that value to the person, who before the 15th of the following July, should produce to them the first approved plan, if adopted by them, for a President's House. On the 16th of July it was recorded that the President of the United States with the Commissioners examined the several plans for the Capitol and the Palace which had been forwarded agreeably to advertisements of the 14th of March.
Historical Events / 14.02.2012

April 10th, 1865 -- Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia had surrendered a day earlier at Appomattox Court House. The Civil War was over and the Union had been preserved. Workmen from the Washington Navy Yard, accompanied by a band, visited Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles to congratulate them and celebrate the Union victory. The President briefly addressed the men to thank them for their visit.
Notable People & Places, Other Cool Stuff, The Best Of / 07.02.2012

This is a serious case of right place, right time. The Class of '75 at Holton-Arms had a notable classmate in Susan Ford, the daughter of President Gerald Ford. Susan's final years of high school lined up perfectly with her father's rise to the Oval Office. Partly for security, but more likely for the awesome factor, she hosted the senior prom at her house ... the White House. No big deal, she only lived in the most recognizable (and heavily guarded) home in America. Oh, and she had her own car, which she was washing below, next to the White House. That is so bizarre.
Notable People & Places / 02.02.2012

This might be the most unique ideas for a post that I have come up with thus far. Hopefully you will agree and enjoy reading it.
I love Hawaii (who doesn't?) and over the years I've been fortunate enough to spend a number of vacations in the islands with family. I'm quite fond of the place and have some great memories from my visits. Being the history nerd that I am, I'm intrigued by their unique past, especially the more recent history of the islands, from the original western name of the "Sandwich Islands", to unification under King Kamehameha, to the overthrow under Queen Liliʻuokalani. Hawaii has a fascinating history, and it's one that has a unique and, in my mind, a fascinating connection with Washington, D.C. During the 1890s, the islands saw major upheaval, coups and battling interests for control over the precious resources of the island. The woman charged with protecting the interests of her people and her island nation Lydia Kamakaʻeha Pākī, formally known as Queen Liliʻuokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii. We all know that, in the end, Queen Liliʻuokalani was unable to maintain Hawaiian sovereignty. Hawaii was eventually annexed by the United States under the McKinley Administration and became our 50th state about 60 years later. What most people likely do not know is that she made a well-publicized trip to the mainland -- using a passport from the Republic of Hawaii -- to make one last effort at maintaining Hawaiian self-determination. This post is about her time in the our city.
This Day in History / 24.01.2012

For the next "This Day in History" post, I came across this list of White House visitors for January 24th, 1912. A long list of prominent individuals visited President Taft that day, from the Italian Ambassador, to the Secretary of War and many Members of Congress. This is the early 20th century version of open government and transparency and it's really interesting to see this printed in the newspaper.
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.
Notable People & Places / 13.01.2012

The description below is cut straight from YouTube. This is a home movie from Lady Bird Johnson during the 1960s. The LBJ Library has an entire YouTube channel dedicated to these, so check them out. They're also on Twitter and Facebook. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drgeG39hpro The footage is outside and the film is silent. The film starts with Lady Bird Johnson and others posing in front of a house somewhere in Virginia? There are views of the house and unidentified women and a man posing and then unidentified people sitting/eating at tables.
Historical Events, Notable People & Places / 13.01.2012

I really wanted to start by skewing these posts towards more anonymous D.C. residents, but I keep coming across gold on YouTube like this. I promise to return to more posts on hidden and lost Washington, but you have to watch this. Look how defensive President Nixon is at the end as he folds his arms. Wow. I'm sure many of you reading this remember these dark days, which really redefined the American Presidency. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sh163n1lJ4M