Washington, D.C. Stories and Tips

Some Presidential Places

The President lives at the White House and sometimes visits the Capitol, but there are other places in Washington associated with Presidents.

Presidential Churches: Across Lafayette Park from the White House stands St John’s Church, claiming every President has attended services here. The Presidential pew is down front, marked with a small brass plaque. Out 16th St. NW from Lafayette Park, a block or two north of the traffic circle, is a Methodist Church where Clinton and Carter regularly attended. Reagan made his one token appearance at church during his eight years in office here. St Mathews Cathedral on Rhode Island Ave. NW near Connecticut Ave. NW is where Pres. Kennedy’s funeral was held. The Washington National Cathedral: G. W. Bush made his impressive speech honoring the 9-11 victims here. Some Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson are buried here. Many attended services here. G. W. Bush gave his impressive post 9-11 speech here, in the same place where Leonard Bernstein conducted the “Mass for Peace” during the Vietnam War.

Presidential Inaugural Ballrooms. The Grand Ballroom at the Mayflower/Capitol Hilton Hotel, 16th St NW between K & L St NW has been the official location of Inaugural balls since the hotel was built. Many earlier Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, held their ball in the ballroom located in one corner of the top floor of the National Portrait Gallery. In the late last century, Inaugural balling expanded greatly so that all those big donors to the campaign, like G. W. Bush’s “good friend”, “Kenney Boy” Lay, the thief who was Enron’s CEO, could come to the dance. The National Building Museum is chief among the auxiliary ballrooms, guaranteeing a Presidential appearance to those who paid enough.

The ballrooms at the National Portrait Gallery and the National Building Museum are open to the pubic (The National Building Museum ballroom is the main floor of the museum, sans exhibits). Part of an operating grand hotel, the Mayflower ballroom is used for many functions, but is usually possible to get at least a peak, if not a walk around inside. Enter the hotel from 16th St NW, go straight through the lobby and start down the long corridor. About half way down on the right are a series of identical doors, the doors opening into the Grand Ballroom.

On 21st St NW between L & I Sts. NW is the school Chelsea Clinton attended. Walking by at recess, we saw a bunch of kids playing in the small ‘yard’ with guys in dark suits and sunglasses standing in each corner.

The President’s Box at the Kennedy Center. The President rarely attends and his tickets are usually given to White House staff, but sometimes at the last minute, seats are sold to the public. Yes, we have parked our rears on the red Presidential velvet for a concert. If the President does attend, the anti-room connecting the box to the foyer is packed with Secret Service agents.

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