Benjamin Ogle Tayloe
(May 21, 1796 - February 25, 1868)
Tayloe House, 21 Madison Place NW, Lafayette Square neighborhood, DC. Now the National Courts and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tayloe is author of Our Neighbors on Lafayette Square (1872), and also wrote numerous articles on horse racing and horse breeding for magazines. Tayloe studied law and was private secretary to Attorney General Richard Rush when he was appointed Minister to Great Britain (1817-1819). The absentee owner of plantations in Virginia and Alabama, Tayloe was the richest man in the US at the start of the Civil War, when he lost his lands and slaves.
Tayloe also maintained a number of city properties in DC, including the Octagon House, built by his father, a racetrack for horses at the current site of Malcolm X Park, and hotel property on Pennsylvania Avenue that was the forerunner to the Willard Hotel. Although he never held elected office, Tayloe was one of DC's most active members of the Whig Party, and a political activist whose house on Lafayette Square was an important gathering place for leading political figures, such as Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, and presidents John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor, and Millard Fillmore.
Tayloe was president of the boards of the Washington Orphan Asylum, the Society of the Oldest Inhabitants of DC, and director of the Monument Association, which advocated for the construction of the Washington Monument. He was asked to run for Mayor of Washington several times, but declined. After the death of his widow, his sculpture and paintings became part of the collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.
Also earlier home of Robert Lowell .
Later notable residents include Senator Donald Cameron, Vice President Garret Hobart, and Senator Mark Hanna. The house also served as headquarters for the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and as an extension of the Cosmos Club. Now part of the National Courts building.
Octagon House, 1799 New York Ave. NW, Foggy Bottom neighborhood, DC. Now a National Historic Landmark, owned by the American Institute of Architects.
Architect: William Thornton.
While the White House was being rebuilt after the War of 1812, the Octagon was occupied by President James Madison, and the Treaty of Ghent was signed here. The building was purchased by the American Institute of Architects in 1902, and they built a modern poured concrete multi-story building behind the historic house in 1974. The name is a misnomer; the mansion is actually a hexagon. It was built in the Federal style with a semi-circular entrance tower, and the interior retains the original oval stairhall and winding grand staircase. Named a National Historic Landmark in 1960, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.