Greater Greater Washington

Lost Washington: The Little Green House

The structure that became known as the Little Green House, at 1625 K Street, NW, started out its history innocently enough. In 1880, Mr. J. B. Edmonds of Iowa purchased the property and erected a house of green stone for $17,000. Mr. Edmonds was a retired lawyer.

The Edmonds family lived in the home until Mrs. Lydia M. Edmonds passed away on November 18, 1912. At that time, the Edmonds estate was valued at about $550,000.

The house took on a level of notoriety during the administration of Warren G. Harding. When he took office in 1921, and the Ohio Gang followed him to town, the house was leased by an Ohio politician turned lobbyist who also happened to be a friend of Harry M. Daugherty, Harding's Attorney General.

In the next two years the home was the scene of Presidential poker parties and revelry of a more spectacular sort (some even went so far as to suggest orgies). One writer of the time described the home as a rendezvous where shady political-business deals were consummated over bottles of confiscated liquor.

The whole thing came to public notice when the Harding administration suddenly collapsed. Time and again during Senate committees and before courts of law, the Little Green House was named as the place where less than above board Government deals were made.

In the final years of the house it had a quiet existence. It was vacant for several years and eventually was a home for several fraternities. In 1931 it was remodeled as a business office.

The home was eventually razed in April of 1941 to make way for a $500,000, 1,260,000 cubic ft. office building. The Commonwealth building (top right) was built in 1943, with renovations in 1996 and 2002, and is still there today.

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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 lives in the Park View neighborhood, and is the force behind the blog Washington Kaleidoscope

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Great piece. Note that "orgy" at that time probably didn't have the same meaning as it does today. I remember reading a headline in a newspaper 'across the pond' some 25 yrs ago that read "Orgies Riot in the Streets". After asking a few locals, I came to realize that on that side of the pond the word 'sexual' was not attached to the word 'orgy'. In the case of the headline, it simply meant a 'melee' ... some 'rabble rousing'. I suspect the meaning here in the States once upon a time was like the meaning overseas.

by Lance on May 15, 2009 4:07 pm • linkreport

* actually, the headline read: "Students Orgy in the Streets"

by Lance on May 15, 2009 4:09 pm • linkreport

K St was pretty once upon a time

by Bianchi on May 15, 2009 4:13 pm • linkreport

As a home for fraternities, how certain are we orgies isn't sexual?

by ah on May 15, 2009 4:35 pm • linkreport

Was there a movement against - what could be called in more recent parlance -- as 'McBuildings'?

by Douglas Willinger on May 16, 2009 3:16 am • linkreport

Bianchi is getting at the most important concern here to us locals - that K street was once home to the rich and famous- and that just about all of these incredible Gilded Era structures were demolished to make way for present day K streets modernist canyon of maximum density law offices. DC has far more interesting history to it than just the political arena.Many of this country's elite wintered here in this neighborhood-which extended up to the Dupont Circle area- when it got to cold in places like New England- and DC was a winter home for many of these folks who were also industrialists, inventors, luminaries- not all politicians by a longshot.

by w on May 19, 2009 9:40 am • linkreport

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