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Office Tour


 

Sometimes, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, people make buildings and then buildings make people. The Policy Studies Organization international headquarters is just off Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. at 1527 New Hampshire Avenue. It is no ordinary address.

The building itself was designed by Thomas Franklin Schneider and constructed in 1889. Schneider was much in favor as a society architect and his is the most famous apartment building of the time, The Cairo, which still stands at 1615 Q Street. Nicknamed the Young Napoleon for his sense of style, Schneider was influenced by architects Louis Sullivan and Henry Hobson Richardson, and 1527 New Hampshire has hints of their work.

In the 1890s the neighborhood included congressmen and cabinet members, as well as socialites. The first occupant of 1527 was Colonel Benjamin Blanchard, who moved n with no less than five servants, including a coachman. Blanchard almost immediately, in 1892, built an addition on the back, again by Schneider.

When Blanchard died in 1900, the house was sold to Admiral George Remey. Remey commanded a gunboat in the Civil War, spent part of the war in a prison camp in South Carolina, and during the Spanish-American War commanded the naval base at Key West, Florida. He then led a flotilla in the Pacific, and saw duty in China during the Boxer Rebellion . The 1910 census shows that Remey and his wife lived in the house with his son Charles, who was a young architect, and four other children. Charles subsequently became world leader in the Bahai faith; he wrote extensively on religious matters while livjng with his parents.

In 1926 the house passed to the family of labor leader Samuel Gompers, and Gompers sold the property to the American War Mothers, known popularly as the Gold Star Mothers because of their display in their homes of a flag with a blue star for a son on active service and a gold star for a son killed in action. In 1941 the house again had new owners Rubie Youngblood and her daughter, who maintained a boarding house for congressmen and other professionals.

The Youngbloods also bought 1529 New Hampshire, the adjoining property, and integrated the two buildings into one property. The first occupant of 1529 New Hampshire had been the Reverend Richard Lewis Howell, a a socially prominent Episcopalian clergyman and rector of St. Margarets Church at the corner of Connecticut Avenue and Bancroft Place. Howell caused a stir in 1905 when he married the sister of the French Princess de Bearn in Palm Beach.

The next long-term occupant was Dr. Harry Garfield, who had been summoned to Washington by his friend President Woodrow Wilson to be part of the Wilson kitchen cabinet and serve as federal fuel administrator. The side of the present house where the Phi Beta Delta and Policy Studies Organization offices are was part of Garfield's home. He was the son of James A. Garfield, the twentieth President of the United States, and appears in many illustrations of his fathers assassination at Union Station in July 1881. He was accompanying his father that day and comforted him after the attack. He was President of Williams College from 1908 to 1934 and the Policy Studies offices display material related to him on loan from the Trustees of Williams College and frequently host Williams College alumni committee meetings.

Dr. Garfield owned the house for many years but rented it on occasion. In 1920 the occupant was Carter Glass, who became Secretary of the Treasury under Wilson and then Senator from Virginia, and who is regarded as a founder of the Federal Reserve System. Garfield also rented the house to the Ecuador Embassy from 1923 to 1926, to the British Embassys air attache in 1927-1930, and then lived in it again himself from 1934 to 1940, when 1529 was sold to the Youngbloods.

In 1951 the Youngbloods sold what was now one building, having incorporated 1527 and 1529 into a single plan, to Genevieve D. Long. Genevieve Long had become devoted to preserving the New Hampshire Avenue houses and saved many from destruction. She subsequent sold the property to the law firm of Henry Glassie and Henry Weaver. Both the Glassies and the Weavers had ties with publishing. Mrs. Kitty Weaver wrote an appreciated book about education in the Soviet Union and Henry Glassie wrote a standard work on painters in nineteenth century Washington. Glassies son became a famous folk life scholar.

In 1966, Glassie and Weaver sold the building to the American Political Science Association. At the time and for many years nobody was aware that the house was the home of Harry Garfield, who had been a leading president of the American Political Science Association as had his friend Woodrow Wilson. One might assume that the Garfield and Wilson connections were a factor in the purchase, but they were totally unknown to the principals.

Debates later about whether to remain in the building or move to the suburbs were resolved when the structure was extensively renovated and Phi Beta Delta, the Policy Studies Organization, various mediation societies, and other societies joined the APSA in what has become a nonprofit center in downtown Washington. Unique are the office and computing facilities for visiting students and scholars and the meeting rooms on each floor.

The Garfield Collection

The Policy Studies Organization maintains a collection of memorabilia related to President James Garfield and the Garfield family because of their connection with the headquarters building. Daniel Gutierrez, executive director of the PSO, works with the Williams College Club to encourage interest in the Garfields. President Garfield was on his way to a Williams alumni reunion when he was shot at the Washington railway station, and his son, Harry Garfield, was one of the most distinguished presidents of Williams.


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