Melrose Georgetown Hotel

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Discover the Melrose Georgetown Hotel, a wonderful historic hotel that was once an upscale apartment complex in Washington’s famous West End.

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Melrose Georgetown Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2021, dates back to 1947.

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Dating back to 1947, the Melrose Georgetown Hotel resides in the heart of Washington DC’s celebrated West End neighborhood. Nevertheless, its location along Pennsylvania Avenue once placed it within the historical boundaries of another famous district, Foggy Bottom. Throughout both their histories, the borders of the West End and Foggy Bottom neighborhoods often intermingled, creating a fluid history that both areas shared. As such, the two sections grew along with one another, especially in the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War. Starting in the 1870s, the West End and Foggy Bottom neighborhoods experienced an incredible construction boom that introduced dozens of blocks filled with new rowhouses and single townhomes. A number of light industrial operations also opened around the periphery of the region, including breweries, glass plants, and even the municipal gas works of the Washington Gas and Light Company. (Interestingly, some local stories attest that the name “Foggy Bottom” arose from the smoke that would roll in from the nearby factories every evening.) Over time, though, the western portion of Foggy Bottom became the primary residence for all the workers at those manufactories, with the West End taking on a good portion of the population influx. An especially vibrant community of black workers called the West End home by the end of the century, and even became the birthplace for many prominent African American figures like the great Duke Ellington.

To address the rapid expansion of Foggy Bottom and the West End, real estate developers started demolishing many of the rowhouses in favor of small-to-medium size apartment buildings. This practice continued for the next several decades, leading to the creation of many new magnificent structures like the brilliant housing facility that would eventually become the Melrose Georgetown Hotel. But by the middle of the 20th century, most of those historic apartment buildings were torn down to make way for new workspaces, government offices, and public highways. The surviving residential components of the area became the target of urban renewal efforts that culminated with a grand plan to build numerous mixed-use high-rises across the West End in the early 1970s. Fortunately, the future Melrose Georgetown Hotel was spared demolition. In fact, several enterprising entrepreneurs even decided to incorporate the beautiful structure into the greater construction project. After months of renovation work, the apartment complex debuted as “The Melrose Hotel” for the first time in 1980. It subsequently played an important role in the historical trajectory of the modern West End, using its luxurious services and unrivaled hospitality to help make the neighborhood an incredibly popular upscale destination. Now known as the “Melrose Georgetown Hotel,” this outstanding historic hotel still continues to be one of the West End’s most celebrated hotels.

  • About the Location +

    Washington is among the nation’s most historic cities, having been founded more than two centuries ago by the Founding Fathers. In 1790, Congress specifically passed the “Resident Act” after James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton agreed to create a permanent national capital in the southern United States. Known as the “Compromise of 1790,” the men decided to place the future settlement somewhere in the South in exchange for the federal government paying off each state’s debt accrued via the American Revolutionary War. George Washington—who was serving his first term as President—then carefully looked for the site of the new city in his role as the country’s chief executive. He spent weeks searching for the perfect spot before finally settling upon a plot of land near the mouth of the Potomac River. Washington had felt that the location was in a terrific spot, for it was still roughly in the middle of the nation. Furthermore, he hoped its proximity near major seaports would further bind the emerging western states with the more established Atlantic coastline. Maryland and Virginia subsequently donated around 100 acres at Washington’s site, although Virginia would later rescind its donation in 1847.

    Nevertheless, work on the capital began a year later and lasted for the duration of the decade. At the start of the project, the three federal commissioners in charge of supervising its progress decided to name the nascent settlement after the President himself. (They also named the federal district surrounding the city as “Columbia,” a feminine adaptation of Christopher Columbus’ name.) Noted French architect Charles L’Enfant spearheaded the city’s new design, and presented a bold vision that featured a layout reminiscent of his native Paris. But despite L’Enfant’s grand plans for Washington, only the first iterations of the United States Capitol, the White House, and a couple other prominent governmental structures appeared at the time. Barely any other buildings stood in the city when the entire federal apparatus relocated from Philadelphia to Washington in 1800. Life in early Washington was hard, too, for its residents were constantly beset by disease, poor infrastructure, and local economic depressions. What few residents remained in the city year-round endured the worse hardships during the War of 1812, when the British notoriously ransacked the community. In fact, the British had even torched the Capitol, the Treasury, and the White House.

    Washington did not finally start to develop into an actual city until the middle of the 19th century, after investment in its upkeep increased dramatically. While additional federal buildings—including the General Post Office and the Patent Office—first appeared in the 1830s, a wave of municipal and residential construction flourished in the wake of the American Civil War. But much of the construction was conducted under the auspices of a territorial government that initiated dozens of new buildings projects, including the development of schools, markets, and townhouses. Streets were also paved for the first time, while modern sanitation systems were created for the many new neighborhoods debuting throughout the city. Congress even contributed to the local construction, especially after the territorial government bankrupted itself shortly after its founding. But the federal government had also created some of the city’s most iconic structures on its own at the same time, such as the Washington Monument, the National Mall, the Library of Congress complex, and a new United States Capitol. The climax of all this construction work materialized with the Senate Park Commission—remembered more commonly as the “McMillan Commission”—which offered a comprehensive series of plans to beautify the entire city.

    It would take years to complete the recommendations of the McMillan Commission, though. Buildings and landscape designs that reflected the commission’s research appeared throughout the first half of the 20th century, especially once the federal government became more involved in international affairs after World War I. Dozens of art galleries, storefronts, and restaurants proliferated, transforming Washington into one of the nation’s most esteemed cultural capitals. Many new embassies also debuted within the city along Massachusetts Avenue, as well, giving rise to its iconic area of Embassy Row. Dozens of new monuments appeared throughout Washington, too, such as the iconic Lincoln Memorial. Some of the most significant construction transpired during the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, which helped spur the creation of an official U.S. Supreme Court building, The Pentagon, and the famous Federal Triangle. Washington nonetheless fell into a brief period of decline around the start of the Cold War that was only reversed with the committed efforts by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson to invest heavily into its upkeep. Today, Washington, DC, is now among the most powerful cities in the whole world, as well as one of its most gorgeous. Thousands of people from all over flock to the city each year to take in its prestigious culture and heritage.


  • About the Architecture +

    The current iteration of the Melrose Georgetown Hotel features an amazing blend of Mid-Century Modern architecture. An offshoot of the earlier International and Bauhaus movements, Mid-Century Modern essentially sought to portray a seemingly contemporary, futuristic aesthetic that reflected the popular concepts of civil progress. Professional architects mainly utilized the style from the 1930s to the 1960s, when American society was rapidly undergoing huge transformations—both social and technological. It seemed to many at the time that the country’s way of life was truly on an upward path of mobility. Architects, thus, embraced the design ideals of function, simplicity, and rationality in order to create sleek-looking structures that possessed a communal purpose. As such, Mid-Century Modern designs made explicit use of vertical, flat lines and irregular rectangular shapes to convey a lack of formality. Overt ornamentation was abandoned, too, as monochromatic brickwork, steel, and concrete served as the essential building blocks for the exterior. Inside, most of the rooms were subdivided into split levels, giving a sense that the structure had undergone as significant change in elevation. Modernist buildings also featured wide, open spaces filled with natural light that represented practicality and comfort. Large widows often served as the primary way in which the architects achieved such a feature. Most of the rooms were also subdivided into split levels, giving a sense that the structure had undergone as significant change in elevation. The introduction of spacious windows even sought to better incorporate nature into the overall design, making the surrounding landscape seem as if it were part of the building itself.


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