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Then and Now: The Dolly Madison House

Then (left): Circa 1920, the Cosmos Club. It moved to Lafayette Square in 1882. Eventually, the Club occupied the Tayloe and Dolley Madison Houses on the eastern side of the Square, and razed two rowhouses between them for additional space. Prompted to relocate by the federal government, the Club moved to its present location in the Townsend House in 1952.

Now (right): The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The court occupies the Howard T. Markey National Courts Building, the Tayloe House, the former Cosmos Club, and the Dolley Madison House.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest primarily within the District. He's worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He's been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and is the force behind the blog Park View, D.C.


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I've always thought the Federal Circuit building (which matches more or less the New Executive Office Building) was horribly ugly.

Looks like they didn't knock down something more attractive to build it, however.

by ah on Apr 22, 2009 6:01 pm • linkreport

the courtrooms inside the Federal Circuit building are quite nice though!

You should go to an argument! First week of each month.

(also, the Court of Federal Claims is in that building too!)

by inside on Apr 22, 2009 8:12 pm • linkreport

I've been once, inside. They are nice, but they are also nice at more attractive courthouses. Anyway, I see the outside regularly, and it's no architectural contribution.

by ah on Apr 22, 2009 8:35 pm • linkreport

I agree- it was a bad 1960's attempt at recreating historic architecture. It could have been worse- like the Depatment of Labor or Kennedy Center.

Of interest- Mrs [ Dolly ] Madison also owned a number of houses along 8th street SE at what is now "Barracks Row"

[ it used to be called "Sailor's Row but the realtors changed the name in the late 70's ]

8th street SE, long ignored by the intelligensia in NW DC, was the first major commercial street in the old LeNfant city

by w on Apr 23, 2009 7:30 am • linkreport

For when they built it, it could have been a nightmare! Look at the FBI building. The whole square is a testimate to Historic Preservation and Mrs. Kennedy's efforts at saving it.

Now that architects aren't intimidated of embarrased to do something overtly historic, re-clading those buildings would not be entirely inapropriate. We've come a long way.

by Thayer-D on Apr 23, 2009 8:06 am • linkreport

So that was were the Cosmos club was during the early 1900s as a place for the politically influential to meet and conspire against the public good; see the letter to USDA's Harvey Wiley:

Excellent work Dave! Please keep doing this new series of yours about places within Washington DC then and now.

by Douglas Willinger on Apr 23, 2009 10:09 am • linkreport

Just to make sure it's clear, this excellent series is by Kent, not by me.

by David Alpert on Apr 23, 2009 10:14 am • linkreport

Cheers to Kent for creating it and cheers to you for hosting it.

I love it when I see stuff that crosses over to other interests! (such as the one on the Hearst house, mother of the atrocious yellow journalist who gave us the drug war inquisition).

by Douglas Willinger on Apr 23, 2009 10:32 am • linkreport

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