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Adams-Morgan in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Mrs. Henderson's Legacy

Roads to Diversity

 

—Adams Morgan Heritage Trail —

 
Mrs. Henderson's Legacy Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 7, 2009
1. Mrs. Henderson's Legacy Marker
Inscription. As you look up the hill, you can see Peter C. L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for Washington ended up here in front of you at Boundary Avenue, now Florida Avenue. Back then, when people walked or rode in horse-drawn vehicles, it was hard to climb this steep ridge. Once electric streetcars appeared in the 1880s, climbing hills was easier, so city dwellers began moving up this hill.

Beginning in 1887, Mary Foote Henderson, wife of Missouri Senator John B. Henderson, created a new community here for the wealthy and powerful. She purchased much of this area and built herself a castle-like mansion on this side of 16th Street. After she failed to persuade the U.S. Government to move the White House here, she did persuade it to set aside land for Meridian Hill Park (also known as Malcolm X Park). She hired noted architects to design a series of elaborate mansions. The French, Spanish, Mexican, Cuban and Polish embassies moved in, and a number of embassies remain today.

After Mrs. Henderson’s death in 1931, her castle became apartments and later a noisy after-hours club. A sleepless neighbor, Washington Post publisher Eugene Meyer, bought the castle and eventually razed it, but left a momento: the brownstone walls of Beekman Place, ahead on the left.

Across the street is the Roosevelt, constructed in 1919 as a fine apartment-hotel.
Mrs. Henderson's Legacy Marker - photo on reverse. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 7, 2009
2. Mrs. Henderson's Legacy Marker - photo on reverse.
"Public school students sketch Henderson Castle, around 1899." Library of Congress.
Its name honors President Theodore Roosevelt. Mrs. Henderson successfully fought to limit the building’s height, so it wouldn’t block views of the city from the park.
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 1 of 18.)
 
Location. 38° 55.135′ N, 77° 2.196′ W. Marker is in Adams-Morgan, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of 16th Avenue, NW and Florida Avenue, NW, on the right when traveling south on 16th Avenue, NW. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20009, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. James Buchanan (within shouting distance of this marker); A Gathering Place for Washingtonians (within shouting distance of this marker); Meridian Hill Park (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Buchanan (about 600 feet away); Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park (about 700 feet away); Saint Augustine Roman Catholic Church (about 700 feet away); Pitts Motor Hotel (about 800 feet away); Paul Laurence Dunbar Apartments (approx. 0.2 miles away).
 
Regarding Mrs. Henderson's Legacy. [Picture caption, upper left]:
Henderson Castle, flanked by the Meyer house, left, and Meridian Mansions (now
Brownstone walls of Beekman Place at 16th St. and Florida Ave. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 7, 2009
3. Brownstone walls of Beekman Place at 16th St. and Florida Ave.
the last remnant of the Henderson Castle, seen from across 16th Street.
the Envoy), right, around 1920.

[Picture caption, upper right set]:
Mary Foote Henderson, left, Missouri Senator John Brooks Henderson, above, who introduced the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.
Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1946) of 2100 16th Street, one of Mrs. Henderson’s influential neighbors.

[Picture caption, middle right]:
The elegant public parlor of the Roosevelt, 1922.

[Picture caption, lower right]:
The beginnings of Beekman Place, which replaced Henderson Castle, 1976.

[Picture caption, lower left]:
Proposed Presidential Palace for Meridian Hill by Paul Pietz, 1900.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Adams Morgan Heritage Trail markers that have been entered in the Historical Marker database.
 
Also see . . .
1. Mary Foote Henderson. (Submitted on March 10, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Mary Henderson. "...it is Mary Henderson who lobbied Congress in support of the acquisition of the land and its development as a park." (Submitted on March 12, 2009.) 

3. Adams Morgan Heritage Trail Map and Brochures. This self-guided walking tour the Adams Morgan Heritage Trail is the fifth in a series that invites you to discover what lies beyond the
Adams Morgan Heritage Trail - Mrs. Henderson's Legacy Marker (reverse side of marker) image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, March 7, 2009
4. Adams Morgan Heritage Trail - Mrs. Henderson's Legacy Marker (reverse side of marker)
"The Adams Morgan story begins with its breezy hilltop location, prized by Native Americans, colonial settlers, freedom seekers, powerful Washingtonians, working people, and immigrants alike. Unlike most close-in neighborhoods, Adams Morgan has never been dominated by any of these groups. Today’s rich diversity is the legacy of each group that has passed through.

"Follow the 18 signs of the Roads to Diversity: Adams Morgan Heritage Trail to discover the personalities and forces that shaped a community once known as “18th and Columbia.” Along the way, you’ll learn how school desegregation led to the name Adams Morgan, and you’ll meet presidents and paupers, natives and immigrants, artists, activists and authors.

". . . Roads to Diversity is dedicated to the memory of Carolyn Llorente (1937-2003)."
[Map of the Roads to Diversity: Adams Morgan Heritage Trail.]
monuments: Washington’s historic neighborhoods. (Submitted on March 12, 2009.) 
 
Additional keywords. Gilded Age.
 
Categories. Notable PersonsNotable PlacesPoliticsSettlements & Settlers
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,697 times since then and 130 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   4. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on September 7, 2016.
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