Blair House -Washington DC


Blair House
NPS Photo

Built in 1824 for Dr. Joseph Lovell, first Surgeon General of the United States who organized the Army Corps of Engineers, this National Historic Landmark serves as the official guest house of the President of the United States. In 1836, Francis Preston Blair, Sr., a member of Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” and copublisher of the Globe, the influential mouthpiece of the administration, purchased the Blair House. Moving for a time in the 1840s to a country house in Maryland, the Blairs rented the property to a succession of notable tenants, including the first Secretary of the Interior, Thomas Ewing, whose daughter married William Tecumseh Sherman at the house in 1850.

In 1852, the Blairs moved back to the residence and constructed a house next door for Elizabeth Preston Blair, the only daughter of Francis Preston Blair. The two houses began to be used as one, almost as they are today. Montgomery Blair, son of Francis Preston Blair, resided in the house as well, and was a trusted advisor to President Lincoln before and during the Civil War. The Blairs opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and threw their weight to the free soil movement and the newly forming Republican Party. Montgomery Blair was Postmaster General from 1861 to 1864, advised Lincoln on important matters such as the reinforcing of Fort Sumter, and was instrumental in holding Maryland out of the Confederacy. At a conference at the Blair House in 1861, it was decided that Admiral Farragut would command the assault on New Orleans.

After the Civil War, Blair influence began to fade, but the prominence of the family continued to be recognized in Washington society. The house once again took on national recognition when, in 1942, it became the official residence of visiting dignitaries and served as a temporary home for President Harry S. Truman during the remodeling of the White House.

Blair House is located at 1651-1653 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. It is not open to the public. Metro stop: McPherson Square. For more information you can visit the website.