06 January 2009

The Hay-Adams Hotel.

President-elect Barack Obama and his family have chosen The Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, DC as their temporary home in the Nation's Capitol before moving into Blair House, The White House Guest House and then The White House on 20 January 2009. Here is a glimpse of The Hay-Adams Hotel along with some interesting history about one of The Leading Hotels of the World.

Located in Lafayette Square across from the White House, The Hay-Adams is one of Washington D.C.'s most revered landmarks. This classic hotel is named after the distinguished residents who previously lived on its site: John Hay, Private Assistant to President Abraham Lincoln and later Secretary of State, and Henry Adams, an acclaimed author and descendant of U.S. Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.

The site where The Hay-Adams is now located has long been a favorite gathering place in the nation's capital. In 1884, renowned architect Henry Hobson Richardson designed elaborate, Romanesque homes at 16th and H Streets that became Washington's leading salons for years. The stimulating discussions of politics, literature, science and art attracted the era's leading artists, writers and politicians, including sculptor August Saint-Gaudens, Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt and Mark Twain.

Hay, Adams, their wives, Clara and Marian and geologist Clarence King formed a close group of friends who dubbed themselves "The Five of Hearts." They even had china and letterhead made that featured moniker.

Hay died in 1905, and after Clara died in 1914, ownership of the Hay house passed to their daughter Alice Wadsworth and her husband, Senator James Wadsworth. After Adams died in 1918, the Wadsworths bought his house, which they leased to the Brazilian Embassy.

Washington developer Harry Wardman bought and razed both homes in 1927. In their place, he constructed an Italian Renaissance-style apartment-hotel designed by architect Mirhan Mesrobian. The 138-room Hay-Adams House cost $900,000. It featured a dazzling array of architectural elements, many of which have been preserved to this day including Doric, Ionic and Corinthian orders, walnut wainscoting and intricate ceiling treatments with Tudor, Elizabethan and Italian motifs. Wood paneling from the Hay residence found a new home in the grand public space now known as the John Hay Room.

The Hay-Adams House opened in 1928 and quickly attracted prominent Washingtonians and elite travelers, including Ethel Barrymore, Amelia Earhart, Sinclair Lewis and Charles Lindbergh. Guests were drawn to the hotel by its unparalleled views of the White House, Lafayette Square and St. John's Church, as well as such amenities as large suites, kitchens, steam heat, elevators, circulating ice water, and, in 1930, Washington's first air-conditioned dining room.

In 2001, the hotel closed its doors for a major renovation. In the spring of 2002, the Hay-Adams re-emerged, stunningly restored with its unique ambiance enhanced with distinctive luxury features.

The spirit of hospitality originated by the John Hay and Henry Adams households lives on at the Hay-Adams today. The stability and strength of its management and staff combined with distinctive luxury features create the residence of choice for discriminating visitors and an elegant oasis for the citizens of Washington.