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Lafayette Park Walking Tour (DC) 13 Oct 2018

Updated: Sep 18, 2019

Note: There is more history packed into this football field sized location than anyplace in the world. Follow the below for a DIY walking tour (in the footsteps of history)

1. Decatur House: when built by naval hero Stephen Decatur in 1809, was one of only three buildings in Lafayette Square (the others being St Johns Episcopal Church and the White House).

2. Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Statue: Better known as "Baron von" Stueben, he is credited with being one of the fathers of the Continental Army in teaching the essentials of military drills, tactics, and disciplines.

-On the East face note the two impressive military figures above the inscription “Military Instruction” as a reminder of the training he provided to the American army at Valley Forge.

-On the rear face note the bronze plaque with the images of Colonel William North and Captain Benjamin Walker, who served as trusted aides to von Steuben.

-On the West face note the figures of a woman and young child grafting a shoot with a tree to illustrate America’s regard for von Steuben (the shoot represents "the Baron" and the tree the United States).

-In the movie "In the Line of Fire" Secret Service agent Clint Eastwood chases assassin John Malkovich past the Hay-Adams Hotel and up 16th Street (Note how traffic on I Street now goes in the opposite direction).

-occupies the site where the 1885 homes of John Hay and Henry Adams once stood, at 16th and H StreetsNW.

4. Saint John's Church:

-every president since Madison has worshiped here (I’m expecting a lightning strike any moment).

5. General Andrew Jackson Statue:

-The Bernard Baruch Bench of Inspiration: Baruch was an informal advisor to FDR and often met with White House staff in Lafayette Park. Sit down and be inspired.

5. Brigadier General Thaddeus Kosciuszko

6. Cutts-Madison House:

7. United States Court of Federal Appeals: On this

-Daniel Sickles

-Rodgers House: On April 14, 2018 (the night of President Abraham Lincoln's assassination), William Seward, Lincoln's Secretary of State was stabbed by a co-conspirator with a knife (a neck brace from a prior

Belasco Theater (1895-1964): a five year old, Helen Hayes (the First Lady of the America Theater) debuted here in 1905.

8. The Treasury Annex:

9. Major General Comte Jean de Rochambeau: A French nobleman and general who played a major role in helping the Thirteen Colonies win independence during the American Revolution. During this time, he served as commander-in-chief of the French Expeditionary Force. This is a replica of a statue that stands in Vendôme, France.

-During the Revolutionary War, when the British surrendered at Yorktown, General Cornwallis (the British Commander) refused to attend the surrender ceremony, citing illness. Instead, Brigadier General Charles O'Hara led the British army onto the field. O'Hara first attempted to surrender to Rochambeau, who shook his head and pointed to Washington. O'Hara then offered his sword to Washington, who also refused and motioned to Benjamin Lincoln. The surrender finally took place when Washington's second-in-command accepted the sword of Cornwallis' deputy.

-the Northbound span of the 14th Street Bridge (over the Potomac) was briefly named for Rochambeau.

10. Riggs National Bank (now Bank of America): Riggs was major financial player in DC until brought down by international financial shenanigans in the '80s.

-In the movie The Pelican Brief, Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington enter this bank to obtain the incriminating tape from a safe deposit box.

11. The Treasury Building:

12. The White House

13. The Old Executive Office Building:

14. The Renwick

15. The Blair House

16. General Lafayette:

17. 712 Jackson Place: On April 14, 1865 this house was owned by Major Henry Rathbone who accompanied Ms. Clara Harris who both in turn accompanied President and Mrs Lincoln to Ford's Theater that night (after General Grant had declined an invitation). He subsequently wrestled with John Wilkes Booth after the assignation and was slashed in his left arm with a dagger from the elbow to his shoulder. Possibly due this incident his mental state deteriorated in subsequent years and on December 23, 1883 while Envoy to Hanover he fatally shot and stabbed Clara Harris (now his wife) and spent the rest of his days in a asylum for the criminally insane in Hildesheim, Germany.

-It gets even weirder: Clara Harris was the daughter of Senator Ira Harris of New York. After Harris’s mother died, her father had married Pauline Rathbone (Henry's mother).


1. An excellent place for an after DIY Tour is:

a. Off The Record: in the basement of The Hay-Adams Hotel. The most famous bar in DC.

b. Old Ebbit Grill: possibly the second most famous bar in DC. Played a prominent role in the aforementioned movie “In the Line of Fire”.

2. Lafayette Park is where DEA agents bought some crack at the specific request of the President of the United States.

General Jackson

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