Blair House

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For other uses, see Blair House (disambiguation).
Blair House
Blair House is located in Washington, D.C.
Blair House
Location 1651 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, D.C.
Coordinates 38°53′56″N 77°2′19″W / 38.89889°N 77.03861°W / 38.89889; -77.03861Coordinates: 38°53′56″N 77°2′19″W / 38.89889°N 77.03861°W / 38.89889; -77.03861
Built 1824
NRHP Reference # 66000963
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL October 26, 1973

Blair House is a historic building in Washington, D.C. that forms part of the President's Guest House complex. The complex itself is also sometimes known as "Blair House" in reference to this, the oldest of its four constituent structures, constructed in 1824.[2]

The facade of Blair House, pictured in 2009.

The original brick house was built as a private home for Joseph Lovell, eighth Surgeon General of the United States Army. In 1836, it was acquired by Francis Preston Blair, a newspaper publisher and influential advisor to President Andrew Jackson. It remained in his family for the following century.[2]

Francis Blair's son Montgomery Blair succeeded his father as resident of Blair House. Montgomery Blair was a trusted adviser of Abraham Lincoln; at a conference at Blair House in 1861, it was decided that Admiral David Farragut would command the assault on New Orleans during the American Civil War.[3]

In 1942, the house was purchased by the U.S. government for use as a guest residence for visiting dignitaries.[2] The purchase was prompted in part by a request from Eleanor Roosevelt who found the casual familiarity off-putting which Winston Churchill displayed during his visits to the White House.[4] On one occasion, Churchill attempted to enter Franklin Roosevelt's private apartments at 3:00 a.m. to wake the president for a conversation.[5]

During much of the presidency of Harry Truman, Blair House served as the temporary residence of the president of the United States, while the interior of the White House was being renovated.[6] On November 1, 1950, Puerto Rican nationalists Griselio Torresola and Oscar Collazo attempted to assassinate President Truman in Blair House.[6] The assassination was foiled, in part by White House policeman Leslie Coffelt, who killed Torresola but was mortally wounded by him.[6]

Blair House was designated a national historic landmark in 1973 (other buildings in the President's Guest House complex have been separately recognized as landmarks).

Between the 1950s and 1980s, Blair House was internally reconfigured to seamlessly attach it to the nearby Lee House and Peter Parker House, as part of the creation of the President's Guest House complex.


  1. ^ Staff (2006-03-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c Ferris, Gary (1999). Presidential Places. John F Blair Publishers. ISBN 0895871769. 
  3. ^ "Blair House". National Park Service. Retrieved 26 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Stephey, M.J. (15 January 2009). "Blair House: World's Most Exclusive Hotel". TIME Magazine. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Becoming the President's Guest House". Blair House Preservation Fund. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c "An assassination attempt threatens President Harry S. Truman". History Channel. Retrieved 27 October 2015.