Penn Quarter in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Willard Inter-Continental Hotel
Civil War to Civil Rights
— Downtown Heritage Trail —
"This hotel, in fact,
may be much more justly
called the center
of Washington and the Union
than either the Capitol,
the White House,
or the State Department...."
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Civil War reporter for the Atlantic Monthly
At 6:30 a.m. in late February 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln and his security team headed by Alan Pinkerton slipped into what was then called Willard's Hotel, an earlier version of the hotel now at this site. Assassination threats dictated this quiet arrival. The Lincoln family stayed there for ten days prior to the inauguration on March 4th. Willard's was hosting an unsuccessful peace conference at the time, a last ditch effort by delegates from 21 states to avert war.
Julia Ward Howe, a hotel guest during the war was awakened one night to the sound of Union troops marching by, singing as they went. Then and there she penned the words of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, the song that became the Union anthem.
Later, President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the word "lobbyist" in this hotel. The president frequently
There has been a hotel on this site since 1816; young Henry Willard became manager in 1847 and bought it with his brother in 1850. During the Civil War, rooms cost between $2.75 and $4 per night and included lavish meals. In August 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. finished work on his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in his suite at the Willard.
When it was built in 1901, the current Willard Inter-Continental Hotel was one of Washington's first skyscrapers. The Beaux Arts structure was designed by Henry Hardenbergh whose work includes the Plaza Hotel and the original Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number W.6.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Arts, Letters, Music • Civil Rights • Government & Politics • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Downtown Heritage Trail, the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln 1861 Inaugural Train Stops, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. series lists. A significant historical month for this entry is February 1861.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. National Press Club (a few steps from this marker); The New Willard (a few steps from this marker); Julia Ward Howe (a few steps from this marker); The Peace Convention (a few steps from this marker); Alice Paul (within shouting distance of this marker); Jean Monnet (within shouting distance of this marker); Reserve Officers Association of the United States (within shouting distance of this marker); The United States Court of Claims (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Penn Quarter.
More about this marker. The marker displays several illustrations:
On the upper right is a drawing of Willard's Hotel. Washington, March 11, 1860. J. C. & H. A. Willard.
Below that another drawing is captioned, The newspaper correspondents who flocked to Washington to cover the Civil War clustered in these buildings on 14th Street near Willard's Hotel.
At the bottom right is a portrait of Julia Ward Howe, who ... wrote the words to the Battle Hymn of the Republic while staying at the hotel. It became the Union anthem.
On the lower left are two photographs showing The Willard Inter-Continental Hotel today.
Also see . . .
1. Trail to Freedom - Part A. Courtesy "YouTube" and "The Lincoln Institute." Leaving Illinois, Lincoln's Inaugural Journey was the "Trail to Freedom"! (Submitted on May 29, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Trail to Freedom - Part B. Courtesy "YouTube" and "The Lincoln Institue." Leaving Illinois, Lincoln's Inaugural Journey was the "Trail to Freedom"! (Submitted on May 29, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Video - - "Abraham Lincoln Biography. . ." - (Courtesy - YouTube)::(Submitted on February 15, 2013.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 9, 2019. It was originally submitted on March 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 3,866 times since then and 9 times this year. Last updated on August 31, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1. submitted on March 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 2. submitted on January 15, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 3. submitted on September 13, 2016, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. 4, 5. submitted on January 15, 2016, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 6. submitted on March 23, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.