Lost Washington: Corcoran House
Originally built as a three-and-one-half-story Federal residence in 1828 for the prominent Maryland attorney, Thomas Swann, and later occupied by the noted Massachusetts statesman Daniel Webster, the home was remodeled and enlarged when banker William Wilson Corcoran purchased the home.
Corcoran amassed his fortune by financing the Mexican War for the U.S. government through the sale of millions of dollars of government bonds. To create a suitable home, he choose James Renwick Jr. to rebuilt the structure in 1849. Renwick immediately set about to enlarge the house into a Renaissance-inspired mansion marking the introduction of the Italianate style into Washington on a large scale. Renwick's attention to detail included varying designs of classical window frames, cornices, and floral swags in brownstone.
Being a Southern sympathizer, Corcoran left Washington for Europe when the Civil War erupted. To safeguard his home, he rented it to the French Legation which gave it diplomatic immunity.
Upon Corcoran's death in 1888, the house was left to the banker's grandson, William Corcoran Eustis, who rented it to a succession of prominent senators and government official.
Ultimately, the Corcoran House was razed in 1922 to make way for the massive neoclassical U.S. Chamber of Commerce Building which still occupies the site today.
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