Willard Hotel

The Willard InterContinental Washington (also commonly known as the Willard Hotel) is a historic hotel located in the heart of DC at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. This world class, luxury and historical site in Downtown Washington, DC is the perfect spot for groups to meet up and for tours to begin.

The hotel features marvelous architecture like columns and gilded ceilings, luxury guest rooms, restaurants, and shops, and is less than a mile from the National Mall. The Willard Hotel can be easily accessed by walking two blocks west of the Metro Center station of the Washington Metro.

History of the Hotel

The current Willard Hotel was founded by Henry Willard in 1847, however, the site was quite different when it was first built. The first structures constructed on the 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW location were six small houses built in 1816 by Colonel John Tayloe III. After constructing these houses, Taylor leased these buildings to a man named Joshua Tennison who soon after dubbed them “Tennison’s Hotel.” These six buildings acted as a hotel for the next thirty years with various leaseholders and name changes. Some of the hotels that passed through the location include Williamson’s Mansion Hotel, Fullers American House, and the City Hotel.

Despite the prosperity of the hotels in this desirable location, after three decades, the buildings were in poor condition and Colonel Tayloe’s son Benjamin Ogle Tayloe was in great need of a new tenant who could maintain the structures and run them successfully and profitably.

Finally, in 1847 the six structures were leased by Henry Willard who founded the current hotel. He combined the six buildings into a single structure and enlarged it into a grand four story building, calling it Willard’s Hotel. Willard purchased the property from Ogle Tayloe in 1864, which led to an interesting historical Supreme Court case over the purchase price. Willard v. Tayloe was a major equity lawsuit about a dispute over the purchased price and form of payment (paper currency versus gold coin). The Supreme Court decided the purchase price would remain the same, however, Willard had to pay using gold which had not depreciated in value like paper currency.

The Willard Hotel Today

Currently, the structure has 12 stories and was designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, a prominent hotel architect. For many years, the Willard Hotel was the only hotel where people could easily visit and access all of downtown DC, making it an apt location to begin your tour.

Throughout the history of the hotel, many notable guests have stayed at the Willard, including almost every president of the United States since 1853. As an acclaimed historical site in Washington, DC the hotel has been a center of interest and activity for distinguished dinners, social events, and meetings since the early 1800s. The Willard Hotel’s distinctive combination of contemporary luxury and historic charm appropriately reflects the spirit of the city so many people celebrate and love.