The Info List - Seven Buildings

The Seven Buildings
Seven Buildings
were seven townhouses constructed on the northwest corner of Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 19th Street NW in Washington, D.C., in 1796.[1] They were some of the earliest residential structures built in the city. One of the Seven Buildings
Seven Buildings
was the presidential home of President James Madison
James Madison
and his wife, Dolley, after the burning of the White House
White House
in 1814, and later the residence of Martin Van Buren
Martin Van Buren
shortly before and after his inauguration as President. Most of the buildings were demolished in 1959. The facades of two buildings were incorporated into a modern office building in 1986.


1 Overview 2 Demolition and remaining facades 3 References 4 Bibliography

Overview[edit] The Residence Act
Residence Act
of 1790, which established the District of Columbia as the site for the capital of the United States, provided for the appointment of three commissioners by the President (without the need for Senate confirmation) to govern the District of Columbia, survey its land, purchase property from private landowners, and construct federal buildings.[2] On December 24, 1793, James Greenleaf
James Greenleaf
and Robert Morris purchased 6,000 lots from the commissioners and began marketing them for sale and development.[3] In November 1794, General Walter Stewart purchased the seven lots at 1901 to 1913 Pennsylvania Avenue and constructed seven three-story townhouses on the property.[4] They were not the first residences to be constructed in the District of Columbia. Many of the residences in Georgetown, Hamburgh Village (the current neighborhood of Foggy Bottom), and on the many farms in what became D.C. preceded them. However, they were among the earliest residential homes to be constructed in the new "Federal City" in the District of Columbia.[5][6] They were certainly among the finest: They were exquisitely detailed, and an ornamental lintel with a sculpted woman's head was placed above each front door.[7]

The remaining facades of the Seven Buildings, incorporated into a 1986 office building.

1901 Pennsylvania Avenue NW was the most famous of the seven structures. After the Burning of Washington
Burning of Washington
by British troops in 1814, President James Madison
James Madison
and his wife, Dolley, lived in the building from October 1815 to March 1817 while the White House
White House
was restored.[8] It had the nickname of "House of a Thousand Candles" after the Madisons hosted a reception for General Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson
and his wife in the building in late 1815.[9] It was also known as the "Gerry House" because Elbridge Gerry
Elbridge Gerry
lived in it while he was Vice President from 1813 till his death in 1814.[10] [11] Vice President Martin Van Buren lived for a short period in this house as well, just before he was elected. He stayed in it until shortly after his inauguration.[12] It is often reported, such as on the plaque erected on the remaining facades, that the corner house served briefly as the State Department headquarters from 1800 to 1801, and thus was where the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were stored, but this is due to confusion between this row and the "Six Buildings" further down the street. The "Six Buildings" had a seventh building added on later and this is the source of the confusion.[13] From 1804 to 1811, the corner house was the French Embassy and from 1811 until the outbreak of the War of 1812
War of 1812
it was the British Embassy.[14] Stephen Decatur
Stephen Decatur
purchased 1907 and 1909 Pennsylvania Avenue in 1816 and lived in one of them in from 1817 to 1818. It was his first home in D.C.[15] During the American Civil War, General George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan
and General Martin Davis Hardin
Martin Davis Hardin
both had their headquarters in the Seven Buildings.[16] Some time after 1865, a fourth story was built atop 1903 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.[17] During their first 50 years, the Seven Buildings
Seven Buildings
were some of the most fashionable addresses in the city. But by the 1890s, they were being used as commercial structures rather than homes. Demolition and remaining facades[edit] The first of the Seven Buildings
Seven Buildings
to be razed was 1913 Pennsylvania Avenue NW which was replaced in 1898 with a new four-story building. The next three buildings, consisting of the addresses 1901-1907 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, were razed in 1959 and a large, modern office building was constructed on the site. [7] In 1986, the last two remaining buildings were gutted and their facades incorporated into a $4.5 million, nine-story office building.[18] The office building now houses the Embassy of Mexico.[19]


^ Gutheim, p. 103. ^ Pinheiro, p. 212. ^ Abbot, et al., p. 16. ^ Bryan, p. 244. ^ Webb and Wooldridge, p. 182. ^ The Federal City boundaries were an area bounded by Boundary Street (northwest and northeast), 15th Street (east), East Capitol Street, the Anacostia River, the Potomac River, and Rock Creek. ^ a b Goode, p. 169. ^ Haas, p. 30. ^ Gary, p. 34. ^ Bergheim, p. 199. ^ Greer, p 17 ^ Bryan, p. 251. ^ Berges makes this mistake on page 43, but as noted in "Homes of the Department of State, 1774-1976" by Lee H. Burke "This assertion is erroneous since contemporary records of the Department of State refer specifically and repeatedly to its occupancy of one of the houses among the Six Buildings." ^ Eberlein, Harold Donaldson; Hubbard, Cortlandt Van Dyke (1958). Historic Houses of George-Town & Washington City. Dietz Press. p. 317-325.  access-date= requires url= (help) ^ Smith, Delos H. (2012). Architectural Report of Decatur House (PDF). Washington, DC: Library of Congress. p. 23. Retrieved 22 June 2015.  ^ Eberlein and Hubbard, p. 329; Brand, p. 99. ^ Kelly, p. 75. ^ McGuire, Kim. "The Oldest on the Avenue." Washington Post. March 13, 1986. ^ Wang, p. 41.


Abbot, William Wright; Chase, Philander D.; Hoth, David R.; Patrick, Christian Sternberg; and Twohig, Dorothy, eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series: 1 January-30 April 1794. Charlottesville, Va.: University Press of Virginia, 2009. Allison, Robert J. Stephen Decatur: American Naval Hero, 1779-1820. Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 2007. Berges, Steve. Charters of Liberty: The Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Milwaukee: American Liberty Press, 2010. Bergheim, Laura. The Washington Historical Atlas: Who Did What, When, and Where in the Nation's Capital. Rockville, Md.: Woodbine House, 1992. Brand, Stewart. How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built. New York: Viking, 1994. Bryan, Wilhelmus B. A History of the National Capital: From Its Foundation Through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act. New York: Macmillan, 1914. Eberlein, Harold Donaldson and Hubbard, Cortlandt Van Dyke. Historic Houses of George-Town & Washington City. Richmond, Va.: Dietz Press, 1958. Gary, Ralph. The Presidents Were Here: A State-By-State Historical Guide. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2008. Goode, James M. Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1979. Greer, Mary A Catalogue of the exhibit of the Department of state at the Louisiana purchase exposition, St. Louis, 1904 Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904 Gutheim, Frederick. Worthy of the Nation: The History of Planning for the National Capital. 1st ed. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1977. Haas, Irvin. Historic Homes of the American Presidents. New York: Dover Publishing, 1991. Kelly, Charles Suddarth. Washington, D.C., Then and Now: 69 Sites Photographed in the Past and Present. New York: Dover Publishing, 1984. Perkins, Bradford. Prologue to War: England and the United States, 1805-1812. Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1961. Pinheiro, John C. "George Washington's Leadership Style and Conflict at the Federal City." In White House
White House
Studies Compendium. Vol. 5. Robert W. Watson, ed. New York: Nova Science Publishers, 2008. Tinkler, Robert. James Hamilton of South Carolina. Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana State University Press, 2004. Webb, William Bensing and Wooldridge, John. Centennial History of the City of Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Dayton, Ohio: H.W. Crew, 1892 Wang, Amy B. Fodor's 2008 Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
New York: Fodor's Travel Publications, 2008.

v t e

James Madison

4th President of the United States
President of the United States
(1809–1817) 5th U.S. Secretary of State (1801–1809) United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
(1789–1797) Congress of the Confederation
Congress of the Confederation
(1781–1783) Virginia House of Delegates
Virginia House of Delegates
(1776–1779, 1784–1786)

"Father of the Constitution"

Co-wrote, 1776 Virginia Constitution 1786 Annapolis Convention 1787 Constitutional Convention

Virginia Plan Constitution of the United States Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787

The Federalist Papers

written by Madison No. 10 No. 51

Virginia Ratifying Convention United States Bill of Rights

27th amendment

Constitution drafting and ratification timeline Founding Fathers


First inauguration Second inauguration Tecumseh's War

Battle of Tippecanoe

War of 1812

origins Burning of Washington The Octagon House Treaty of Ghent Seven Buildings
Seven Buildings
residence results

Second Barbary War Era of Good Feelings Second Bank of the United States State of the Union Address (1810 1814 1815 1816) Cabinet Federal judiciary appointments

Other noted accomplisments

Co-founder, American Whig Society Supervised the Louisiana Purchase Anti-Administration party Residence Act

Compromise of 1790

Democratic-Republican Party

First Party System republicanism

Library of Congress Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions Report of 1800

Other writings

The Papers of James Madison


Early life and career Belle Grove Plantation, birthplace Montpelier


U.S. House of Representatives election, 1789 1790 1792 1794 U.S. presidential election, 1808 1812

Legacy and popular culture

James Madison
James Madison
Memorial Building James Madison
James Madison
University James Madison
James Madison
College Madison, Wisconsin Madison Square Madison River Madison Street U.S. postage stamps James Madison
James Madison
Memorial Fellowship Foundation James Madison
James Madison
Freedom of Information Award James Madison
James Madison
Award James Madison
James Madison
Institute A More Perfect Union (1989 film) Liberty's Kids
Liberty's Kids
(2002 miniseries) Hamilton (2015 musical)


Age of Enlightenment American Enlightenment Marbury v. Madison National Gazette Paul Jennings Madisonian Model American Philosophical Society The American Museum magazine Virginia dynasty


Dolley Madison
Dolley Madison
(wife) John Payne Todd
John Payne Todd
(stepson) James Madison, Sr.
James Madison, Sr.
(father) Nelly Conway Madison
Nelly Conway Madison
(mother) William Madison (brother) Ambrose Madison (paternal grandfather) James Madison
James Madison
(cousin) George Madison
George Madison
(paternal second-cousin) Thomas Madison (paternal second-cousin) John Madison (great-grandfather) Lucy Washington (sister-in-law)

← Thomas Jefferson James Monroe
James Monroe