Marriott Wardman Park
Wardman Park Annex and Arcade
Marriott Wardman Park Tower
|Location||2600 Woodley Rd. NW, Washington, District of Columbia|
|Area||2.7 acres (1.1 ha)|
|Architectural style||Colonial Revival|
|NRHP Reference #||84000869|
|Added to NRHP||January 31, 1984|
The Washington Marriott Wardman Park is a Marriott International hotel located in Washington, D.C., in the United States. The hotel is situated in the Woodley Park neighborhood at 2600 Woodley Road NW and Connecticut Avenue NW, adjacent to the Woodley Park station of the Washington Metro system. It is two blocks from another major hotel, the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The Wardman Park is the largest hotel in the capital, with 1,156 guest rooms, 195,000 square feet (18,100 m2) of total event space, and 95,000 square feet (8,800 m2) of exhibit space.
An important landmark in the city's development, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 31, 1984.
Built between 1917 and 1918 by local developer Harry Wardman, the Wardman Park Hotel was an eight-story, red brick structure modeled on The Homestead resort in Virginia. The hotel was the largest in the city, with 1200 rooms and 625 baths. It was nicknamed Wardman's Folly, due to its location far outside the developed area of Washington.
It opened on November 23, 1918, just days after the armistice ending World War I. No elaborate opening festivities were held, however, as all public gatherings had been made illegal while the city was in the grips of the cataclysmic 1918 flu pandemic then sweeping the globe. The hotel was an immediate success due to the housing shortage caused by Washington's growth during World War I.
In 1928, the hotel was expanded with an eight-story, 350-room residential-hotel annex, designed by architect Mihran Mesrobian. That building is today the only surviving portion of the original Wardman Park, known as the Wardman Tower and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wardman was forced to sell the hotel in 1931, due to the Great Depression, to Washington Properties.
Before the United States entry into World War II, espionage and intrigue enveloped the historic hotel with a beguiling British spy named Cynthia, who operated out of the premises as she spied on the French Vichy Embassy. Cloaked in the darkness of night, she would visit her lover, an embassy employee whom she had compromised, and steal top-secret documents, transporting them back to the hotel and photographing them in a lab she had set up in her room.
The old hotel contained a full service drug store/pharmacy; the pharmacist was known as Doc. Wardman. There was also a U.S. Post Office and in the basement one could shop at a butcher, grocery store, and dry cleaner. Despite WWII, one could always get meat, butter, and other rationed goods in the basement.
In the late 1940s, the hotel pool (Olympic size) was utilized by the 5th Marine Reserves who were taught how to swim with their clothes on. Images of Army Special Forces soldiers rappelling down the side of the Sheraton Park Hotel have also been located, taken during a training exercise on October 3, 1962.
The first televised broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press took place in 1947 in the Wardman Tower, where host Lawrence Spivak was a resident. Other shows broadcast from the hotel include The Camel News Caravan, The Today Show (Frank Blair segments), and The Arthur Murray Dance Program.
Washington Properties sold the hotel to Sheraton Hotels in 1953. Renamed the Sheraton-Park Hotel, the largely residential hotel was gradually converted to house mainly overnight guests. Substantial additions were made to the property, transforming it into a full-scale convention hotel, including large new ballrooms and the 1964 addition known as the Motor Inn and later known as the Park Tower.
By the late 1970s, it was decided that the 1918 main building was outdated and unable to be modernized. Construction began in 1977 on a modern replacement hotel, immediately adjacent on the property. When it opened in 1980, as the Sheraton Washington Hotel, the original building closed and was demolished.
In 1998, following a protracted lawsuit against Sheraton by the hotel's then owners, John Hancock Insurance and the Sumitomo Corporation, Marriott International took over management of the property, renaming the hotel the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. In 1999, Thayer Hotel Investors of Annapolis, Md., purchased the Marriott Wardman Park. These investors hoped, in 2004, to sell the hotel. In 2005, the hotel was sold to the JGB Companies and the CIM Group.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed on November 20, 2008, while giving a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington D.C. at the hotel. He lost consciousness but was talking when he was led away to George Washington University Hospital.
The Wardman Tower building has been home to a number of politicians and other public figures, including three U.S. presidents:
- Vice President Spiro Agnew
- Vice President Charles Curtis
- Actress Marlene Dietrich
- Senator Bob Dole
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Former airline Trans World Airlines (TWA) President Jack Frye and wife, Helen
- U.S. Attorney Paul M. Gagnon
- Senator Barry Goldwater
- Secretary of State Cordell Hull
- President Herbert Hoover
- President Lyndon B. Johnson
- Socialite Perle Mesta
- Senator Chuck Robb
- Chief Justice Frederick M. Vinson
- Vice President Henry Wallace
- Chief Justice Earl Warren
As one of the largest event spaces in Washington DC, the Marriott Wardman Park hosts many events each year. The Conservative Political Action Conference is an example of the type of large, logistically complicated event that the hotel puts on. Additionally, the Hotel hosts the annual International Telecommunications Week (ITW) trade show and idea summit, and the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA) annual meeting. The Hotel is included in the rotation of cities in which the American Contract Bridge League (ACBL) holds North American Bridge Championship tournaments, which attract a large international field of top-ranked players. Anime USA, an anime convention, has been held at the Marriott since 2012. The annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board was held at the Marriott Wardman Park for nearly 60 years, adding the Omni Shoreham and Hilton Washington and Towers as co-host hotels over time. Reaching approximately 12,000 attendees in its final year (2014) at the Marriott Wardman Park and nearby hotels, the TRB Annual Meeting was moved to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in 2015.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13.
- "Welcome to Washington Marriott Wardman Park" (PDF). Washington Marriott Wardman Park. 2013. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
- Thayer Hotel Investors, 1999, www.hotels-online.com/News
- Paul Kelsey Williams, Historic Preservation Specialist, Kelsey & Associates, Washington, DC (March 2003). "Scenes from the Past" (PDF). The InTowner.
- Pristin, Terry (July 14, 2004). "Commercial Real Estate: Hotels and Hotel Deal Makes ar Busier". New York Times.
- Thayer Lodging Group Sells Washington's Marriott Wardman Park Hotel for a Record $300 Million; Firm also Sells Single Portfolio of Eight Hotels
- "Attorney General Mukasey Collapses During Speech". The Associated Press. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2008-11-21.[dead link]
- 2009 SUMMER NORTH AMERICAN BRIDGE CHAMPIONSHIPS Pre-Bulletin, American Contract Bridge League (ACBL). 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2012-10-25.
- "DC Collaborative Selected to Be Beneficiary of AnimeUSA Auction". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
- "TRB 93rd Annual Meeting | Annual Meeting 2014".
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