Opened in 1928, the historic Hay-Adams Hotel is the featured hotel for this year’s Celebrate Smithsonian insider’s tour. The homes of John Hay and Henry Adams once stood where the hotel sits now. Its unparalleled views of the executive mansion have been enjoyed for decades by luminaries like Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and Ethel Barrymore.
The hotel was developed by D.C. real-estate magnate Harry Wardman, who is best known for the thousands of rowhouses he had built in the city, which popularized the use of a front porch. Wardman also built luxury apartment buildings in the Columbia Heights and 16th Street corridors, as well as the Wardman Park Hotel.
Like many businessmen of the time, his fortunes folded with the 1929 crash of the U.S. stock market. Undaunted, he continued to build more modest homes until his death in 1938.
After undergoing extensive renovations in 2001, the Hay Adams re-opened to critical acclaim, as well-known for its service as its distinguished history and architecture. Recently, in January, 2009, the Obama family stayed at the Hay-Adams while preparing for the Inauguration.