Embassy Row

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This article is about the Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.. For other uses, see Embassy Row (disambiguation).
Private residences and embassies located on Massachusetts Avenue between 22nd Street and Sheridan Circle
The Japanese Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue
The Indian Embassy building with a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in the foreground.

Embassy Row is the informal name for the section of Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. between Scott Circle and the North side of the United States Naval Observatory, in which embassies, diplomatic missions, and other diplomatic representations are concentrated. By extension, the name may be used to encompass nearby streets which also host diplomatic buildings.

History[edit]

Considered Washington's premier residential address in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Massachusetts Avenue became known for its numerous mansions housing the city's social and political elites. The segment between Scott Circle and Sheridan Circle gained the nickname "Millionaires' Row".

The Great Depression caused many to sell their homes. The expansive old estates proved well-suited for use as embassies, and also as lodges of social clubs, giving Embassy Row its present name and identity. The relocation to Embassy Row of diplomatic representations, many of which had been established in Meridian Hill in previous decades, was further catalyzed by the construction of the British Embassy, commissioned in 1925 and completed in 1930, and the Japanese Embassy, built in 1931. The greatest number of embassies and chanceries moved to Embassy Row and the neighboring Kalorama neighborhood in the 1940s and early 1950s.[1]

On the southeastern section of the row, between Scott Circle and Dupont Circle, many individual houses and mansions were replaced by larger office or apartment buildings between the 1930s and the 1970s. More recently, several prominent think tanks have clustered in that area.

Many of Embassy Row's diplomatic buildings open to the public once a year in May, an initiative nicknamed Passport DC. This event was started in 2007 by the embassies of member states of the European Union, and extended in 2008 to other countries around the world under coordination by Cultural Tourism DC.[2] Within this program, the EU embassies still open on a separate day, labelled EU Open House. A separate program, the Embassy Series, started in 1994 and coordinates concerts organized in the embassy buildings.[3]

Embassy Row is protected as the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District, created in 1974 following controversy about the demolition of historic townhouses on 1722-28 Massachusetts Ave NW.[4] Many of its notable buildings are listed in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites.[5] Because few historic buildings remain on Scott Circle, the eastern boundary of the Historic District was set on 17th Street NW but, since three embassies are located there and none farther east, Scott Circle is included in this article's definition of Embassy Row. The Western boundary used here is identical to that of the Historic District, namely Observatory Circle. However, some (e.g. real estate professionals) describe Embassy Row as extending as far west as Wisconsin Avenue NW.

From Scott Circle to Sheridan Circle[edit]

This section of Massachusetts Avenue was the one known as the "Millionaires' Row" of Washington DC in the late 19th and early 20th century.

North Side

South Side

From Sheridan Circle to Observatory Circle[edit]

North Side

South Side

Statuary[edit]

The monumental setting of the Row has favored the erection of many memorials and statues. They are erected either on private grounds, many of them by the embassies to showcase a prominent national figure, or on public (federal) land following an Act of Congress, including the successive Circles and several triangular parks created by the intersections between the diagonal avenue and the L'Enfant Plan grid. A special case is the statue of Winston Churchill, which has one foot on the grounds of the British Embassy and the other on federal land to symbolize the UK-US alliance.[27]

Other embassies in Washington DC[edit]

In the immediate vicinity of Embassy Row, many other embassies and diplomatic residences are located within one or two blocks of Massachusetts Avenue on cross streets, particularly R, S, and 22nd Streets NW near Sheridan Circle, and in the Kalorama neighborhood north of Embassy Row. The section of New Hampshire Avenue NW north of Dupont Circle alone is home to the embassies of Argentina, Belarus, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Grenada, Jamaica, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe.

In the early days of Washington DC, most diplomats and ambassadors lived on or around Lafayette Square. The first purpose-designed embassy building in Washington was the embassy of the United Kingdom on 1300 Connecticut Avenue, immediately south of Embassy Row, built in 1872 by Sir Edward Thornton on John Fraser's design, and demolished in 1931. Thornton's choice of location, at a time when Dupont Circle was still almost entirely undeveloped, may be considered the origin of Embassy Row as a diplomatic neighborhood.

In the first three decades of the 20th Century, several European legations gathered farther North-East, on a section of 16th Street near Meridian Hill Park. This area was specifically developed by local resident Mary Foote Henderson to attract embassies, and she even aimed at having the residences of the U.S. President and Vice-President relocated there. However, the neighborhood was hit by the Great Depression, and Embassy Row became a comparatively more attractive location for diplomats starting in the 1930s. Former embassy buildings in the Meridian Hill area include those of France (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1907, now the Council for Professional Recognition); Mexico (arch. Nathan C. Wyeth, 1911, now the Mexican Cultural Institute); the Netherlands (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1922, now the Embassy of Ecuador); Spain (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1923 and addition by Jules Henri de Sibour, 1927; now the Spain-USA Foundation); Egypt (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1924, now Meridian Hall); Italy (arch. Warren and Wetmore, 1925, currently under redevelopment); and Brazil (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1927, later embassy of Hungary and now the Josephine Butler Parks Center). The embassies of Cuba (arch. Macneil & Macneil, 1918), Lithuania (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1909), and Poland (arch. George Oakley Totten, Jr., 1910) are still located in the Meridian Hill neighborhood. A bit further up 16th Street, the Embassy Building No. 10, built in the late 1920s, never actually served as an embassy despite being designed as one.

A high-security enclave in Van Ness, one mile north of the Naval Observatory on the federally-owned former grounds of the National Bureau of Standards in Cleveland Park, was developed from 1968 as the International Chancery Center. It is home to the embassies of Austria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Monaco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, Slovakia, and the United Arab Emirates.

A number of other embassies are scattered south of Massachusetts Avenue and closer to the National Mall, notably those of Canada, Mexico, Spain, Saudi Arabia, and the European Union. Still others are located in or around Georgetown, such as those of France, Germany, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine, and Venezuela. The Caribbean Chancery on 3216 New Mexico Avenue NW hosts the embassies of five English-speaking Caribbean nations.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Emily Hotaling Eig and Julie Mueller, Traceries (1989). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Sheridan-Kalorama Historic District" (PDF). 
  2. ^ "Passport DC Still Opening Doors — And Not Just to Embassies". The Washington Diplomat. May 2012. 
  3. ^ "About Us". The Embassy Series. 
  4. ^ "Massachusetts Avenue Historic District brochure" (PDF). District of Columbia. 2000. 
  5. ^ "DC Inventory of Historic Sites". District of Columbia. 
  6. ^ E.J. Applewhite (1981). Washington Itself: An Informal Guide to the Capital of the United States. 
  7. ^ "The Bay State Apartments". Emporis. 
  8. ^ "Modernism in Washington brochure" (PDF). District of Columbia. 2009. 
  9. ^ Paul K. Williams (2001). Images of America: The Neighborhoods of Logan, Scott, and Thomas Circles. Arcadia Publishing. p. 127. 
  10. ^ "Winthrop House". Emporis. 
  11. ^ "Application for Historic Landmark, B.F.Saul Building" (PDF). DC Historic Preservation Office. October 2010. 
  12. ^ Sue A. Kohler; Jeffrey R. Carson (1988). Sixteen Street Architecture. U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. 
  13. ^ "The History of 2027 Massachusetts Avenue (RAC's building)". Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. 
  14. ^ "Lost & Found Washington: The Hopkins-Miller Houses on Dupont Circle". The House History Man. April 9, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Euram Building". SAH Archipedia. 
  16. ^ "George Oakley Totten". Living Places. 
  17. ^ Sigurd Pacher. "Austria’s Chanceries and Residences in Washington". Austrian Embassy. 
  18. ^ Julia Blakely (December 22, 2013). "Wardman and the British Embassy". washingtonembassygardens.wordpress.com. 
  19. ^ "CH Harlow House". Philadelphia Architects & Buildings. 
  20. ^ "Count Laszlo and Countess Gladys Vanderbilt Széchényi House (Maie H. Williams House)". SAH Archipedia. 
  21. ^ Julia Blakely (December 22, 2013). "Frederick H. Brooke". washingtonembassygardens.wordpress.com. 
  22. ^ "Newly Completed SGI-USA Washington, D.C., Culture Center Opening on "Embassy Row"". Soka Gakkai International. June 25, 2008. 
  23. ^ NRHP Registration Form - Chapel of the Incarnation, Brandywine MD (PDF), 2000, p. 8:7 
  24. ^ "George Cabot Lodge House". Philadelphia Architects & Buildings. 
  25. ^ James M. Goode (1988). Best Addresses: A Century of Washington's Distinguished Apartment Houses. Smithsonian. p. 222. 
  26. ^ James M. Goode (1988). Best Addresses: A Century of Washington's Distinguished Apartment Houses. Smithsonian. p. 235. 
  27. ^ "CHURCHILL, Winston: Statue at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.". dcMemorials.com. 
  28. ^ Mike Ghouse (June 19, 2013). "Goddess Saraswati Statue With Barack Obama Symbolizes Relationship Between Indonesia and the U.S.". HuffingtonPost. 
  29. ^ Bulent Atalay (December 10, 2013). "A Defining Statue of Ataturk". National Geographic NewsWatch. 
  30. ^ "Mandela Statue Unveiled in Washington". Voice of America. September 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]