The Mayflower Hotel
Photo courtesy of the DC SHPO
Built in 1925, the Mayflower Hotel, an architectural and social landmark in the capital city, was the dream of Washington developer Allen E. Walker, a prominent businessman credited with developing Brookland and large areas of northwest Washington during the boom that followed World War I. Its opening function, the annual banquet of the Washington Chamber of Commerce, was totally eclipsed by Calvin Coolidge’s Inaugural Charity Ball held two weeks later in the Grand Ballroom. The ball began a long tradition of presidential use of the Mayflower. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ate lunch at the hotel every day for 20 years, and President Harry Truman lived at the Mayflower during the first 90 days of his presidential term. Franklin Roosevelt lived in Suite 776 during his pre-inaugural period and dictated his famous, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself” speech there. In 1942, the hotel staged Washington’s first blackout drill, installed air raid sirens and first aid stations on every floor, turned the roof into an observation post and made plans to convert the barbershop into an emergency hospital. Harry S. Truman announced his intention to run for the presidency in 1948 at a Jackson Day dinner at the Mayflower (“I want to say that during the next four years there will be a Democrat in the White House and you are looking at him.”) The Mayflower’s history of ownership has reflected the changing economic and social history of the capital. The Depression of World War II ushered in many changes at the grand hotel. It underwent several renovations by different owners who covered the hotel’s exquisite gilt, murals, skylights and carvings in “modernization” efforts. Today, the Mayflower has been restored to its original splendor. The decision to restore the hotel emphasizes the Mayflower’s historic ongoing position as an architectural and social landmark in the capital city.
The Mayflower Hotel is located on 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW. For further information call 202/347-3000. Metro stop: Farragut North
The Mayflower Hotel is a Historic Hotels of America member, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation