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The Willard InterContinental, Washington DC

History

  • 1850 Henry Willard and his brother Edwin bought the hotel, naming it Willard's City Hotel and united the six original buildings behind a common facade.
  • 1853 President-elect Franklin Pierce took up residence at the hotel until President Fillmore vacated the White House. They traded places after the inauguration.
  • 1859 The Willard hosted the legendary Napier Ball for 1,800 guests. The ball was held for the departing British Ambassador, Lord Napier and was the last social occasion attended by both Northern and Southern sympathizers prior to the Civil War.
  • 1860 The Japanese delegation, consisting of three official ambassadors, two princes, twelve nobles and 60 servants visited the U.S. to finalize the nations’ trade and amity agreements.
  • 1861 The Willard hosted the Peace Convention, a last ditch effort to avert the Civil War.
  • 1861 President-elect Lincoln stayed at the Willard before his inauguration.
  • 1861 Julia Ward Howe, while at the Willard, wrote the words to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
  • 1900 Wreckers began the demolition of the old Willard
  • 1901 The first phase of the “new” Willard opened.
  • 1908 The National Press Club is founded at the Willard.
  • 1923 President Calvin Coolidge took his second Presidential Oath of Office at the New Willard Hotel in Washington, D.C. administered by Chief Justice A.A. Hoehling. He took up residence at the hotel while waiting for newly widowed Mrs. Harding to vacate the White House.
  • 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., finished his “I Have a Dream” speech while a guest at the Willard.
  • 1968 The Willard held a major auction of all its goods and closed its doors, future uncertain.
  • 1978 The Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) held an open competition for plans for re-development of the Willard.
  • 1979 PADC selects the plan submitted by Stuart Golding of Clearwater, Florida.
  • 1981 The Washington-based Oliver Carr Company is brought in as managing general partner with the Golding firm.
  • 1983 InterContinental Hotels Corporation is selected to manage the restored Willard InterContinental.
  • 1986 The Willard is restored and re-opened as Willard InterContinental Washington.
  • 1998 U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu hold historic meeting regarding peace negotiations.
  • 2000 Willard InterContinental completes multi-million dollar renovation.
  • 2001 Academy Award-winning director, Steven Spielberg and Academy Award-winning actor, Tom Cruise film Minority Report.
  • 2004 A History Gallery chronicling the rich history of the Willard is opened.
  • 2004 The Willard opens the I Spa at the Willard, a full service spa and fitness facility.
  • 2006 Hotel commences Willard 2006, a yearlong celebration of the hotel’s re-birth featuring programs with over a dozen of Washington’s top cultural and historic institutions.
  • 2007 Hotel embraces Sustainable Development and embarks on a plan entitled, “The Willard InterContinental – The Next 100 Years”.
  • 2007 New bistro-style restaurant, Café du Parc, opens in former Chanel boutique adjacent to the hotel.
  • 2008 Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa opens at the former ISPA at the Willard.
  • 2009 The wood-paneled Willard Room restaurant becomes one of Washington's premiere event spaces.
  • 2009 Willard InterContinental wins 2009 Condé Nast Traveler World Saver Award.

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