First Posted: July 28, 2012
Jan 20, 2020

Mayflower Hotel/Washington, DC

Mayflower Hotel
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel
Location: 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C.
Built: 1922 Architect: Warren & Wetmore; Robert F. Beresford
November 14, 1983

"...The Renaissance Mayflower Hotel, known locally as simply The Mayflower, is a historic hotel in downtown Washington, DC located on Connecticut Avenue NW, two blocks north of Farragut Square (one block north of the Farragut North Metro station). It is the largest luxury hotel in the U.S. capital and the longest continuously operating hotel in the Washington D.C. area, and a rival of the nearby Willard InterContinental and Hay-Adams Hotels. The Mayflower is known as Washington, D.C.'s "Second Best Address" (second to the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.), a reference attributed to President Harry Truman during his stay at the hotel during White House renovations.


The Mayflower was built by Allen E. Walker, the land developer behind Brookland and other residential neighborhoods of Washington. Nicknamed the "Grande Dame of Washington" at its opening in 1925, the hotel was said to contain more gold trim than any other building except the Library of Congress. An extensive renovation completed in 1988 uncovered decorative effects, including a skylight, which had been covered up due to blackout regulations during World War II.

Shortly after opening, the Mayflower hosted a ball for the presidential inauguration of Calvin Coolidge. Although Coolidge himself never arrived, the hotel has sponsored a ball every Inauguration Day since. Franklin D. Roosevelt worked on his famous "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" inaugural address while a guest. His successor Harry S. Truman resided there for the first 90 days of his presidential term while the White House was undergoing renovations, and declared his intention to run for the presidency in 1948 at a dinner there. The Mayflower's lounge, Town & Country, has long been a social center for Washington's elite. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was said to lunch there daily with Clyde Tolson for over twenty years. In 1975, the Mayflower was the site of former Peace Corps and Office of Economic Opportunity director Sargent Shriver's formal announcement that he would run for President of the United States.

The hotel came into spotlight several times in relation to political-sex scandals. President Kennedy's supposed mistress, Judith Campbell Exner was established in the hotel and supposedly sneaked into the White House when his wife was away. Monica Lewinsky was staying there when alleged her affair with Bill Clinton was in the news. The Mayflower was also the location where Lewinsky had been photographed with President Clinton at a campaign event not long before the 1996 election; this photograph would become an iconic component of the media coverage of the scandal.

On March 10, 2008, The New York Times reported that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer had on the evening of February 13 patronized a high class prostitution service called Emperors Club VIP and met for over two hours with a $1,000-an-hour call girl in room 871 of the Mayflower Hotel, where Spitzer registered under the pseudonym George Fox, but with his own Fifth Avenue Manhattan address. The resulting scandal caused him to announce his resignation on March 12, 2008.

The Mayflower appeared in the news once again as the location of a meeting at which Hillary Clinton introduced Barack Obama to about 300 of her leading contributors on June 26, 2008."

Mayflower Hotel

"Built in 1925, the Mayflower Hotel, an architectural and social landmark in the capital city, was the dream of Washington developer Allen E. Walker, a prominent businessman credited with developing Brookland and large areas of northwest Washington during the boom that followed World War I. Its opening function, the annual banquet of the Washington Chamber of Commerce, was totally eclipsed by Calvin Coolidge's Inaugural Charity Ball held two weeks later in the Grand Ballroom. The ball began a long tradition of presidential use of the Mayflower. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover ate lunch at the hotel every day for 20 years, and President Harry Truman lived at the Mayflower during the first 90 days of his presidential term. Franklin Roosevelt lived in Suite 776 during his pre-inaugural period and dictated his famous, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself" speech there. In 1942, the hotel staged Washington's first blackout drill, installed air raid sirens and first aid stations on every floor, turned the roof into an observation post and made plans to convert the barbershop into an emergency hospital. Harry S. Truman announced his intention to run for the presidency in 1948 at a Jackson Day dinner at the Mayflower ("I want to say that during the next four years there will be a Democrat in the White House and you are looking at him.") The Mayflower's history of ownership has reflected the changing economic and social history of the capital. The Depression of World War II ushered in many changes at the grand hotel. It underwent several renovations by different owners who covered the hotel's exquisite gilt, murals, skylights and carvings in "modernization" efforts. Today, the Mayflower has been restored to its original splendor. The decision to restore the hotel emphasizes the Mayflower's historic ongoing position as an architectural and social landmark in the capital city.

The Mayflower Hotel is located on 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW. For further information call 202/347-3000. Metro stop: Farragut North. The Mayflower Hotel is a Historic Hotels of America member, a program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation."

For More Information:

Renaissance Mayflower Hotel

Index: Historical Buildings