Riggs Washington DC

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Discover motifs inspired by Juno Moneta, the Roman Goddess of Money, Trust, and Protection inside the Riggs Washington DC.

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Riggs Washington DC, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 2019, dates back to 1891.

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Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Riggs Washington DC is among the city’s best holiday destinations. But while its time as a boutique hotel may be somewhat new, its history is nearly as storied as Washington itself. The building spent most of its life as the headquarters for the Washington Loan & Trust Company, which was founded by Brainard H. Warner and John B. Lerner in 1891. Together with a 25-man board of directors, the men set about creating what would become the largest trust company in the District of Columbia for decades. They purchased the site of the old St. Cloud Hotel at the intersection of F and 9th Streets to serve as the location for their nascent financial company. Saving no expense, the team hired architect James Hill to craft its design. He modeled the exterior façade with a brilliant combination of Romanesque Revival-style architecture, making it one of the few building’s in all of Washington to showcase such a unique design aesthetic.

The new Washington Loan & Trust Company became immensely popular within a matter of years after its grand debut. To accommodate this exponential growth in business, its board of directors expanded the first floor of the building in 1911. The structure only continued to grow throughout the 1920s, as the Washington Loan and Trust Company added on additional space in the lots surrounding the location. As such, the building’s original L-shaped foundation gradually changed to resemble a “U” with its new wing extending westward along F Street. Architect Arthur Heaton spearheaded the construction work, taking great pains to ensure its appearance matched that of the Gilded Age section of the building. The structure’s entire exterior appearance has remained unaltered since the inclusion of Heaton’s addition, becoming a celebrated local landmark in the process.

On October 1, 1954, the Washington Loan & Trust Company was merged with Riggs National Bank. Regarded as one of the most important monetary institutions in the country, the bank had once handled the personal financial accounts of 23 different U.S. Presidents in its heyday. It had also been responsible for financing some of the most important projects in United States history, such as Samuel Moore’s development of the telegraph and the purchase of Alaska from Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Yet, this partnership eventually dissolved when the Riggs National Bank sold the building to Marriott International in 1999. It subsequently transformed the structure into a business known as the “Courtyard Washington Convention Center Hotel.” This hotel would then shutter its doors in 2017, with Marriott handing over the keys to the Lore Group. The Lore Group would spend the following two years thoroughly renovating the entire space into a luxurious boutique hotel named the “Riggs Washington DC” in honor of its past.

  • About the Location +

    The Riggs Washington DC resides along F Street within the celebrated Pennsylvania Avenue Historic District. The hotel itself is just three blocks from Pennsylvania Avenue, which many refer to as “America’s Main Street.” One of the city’s most traveled thoroughfares, it extends for some six miles within the District of Columbia. Most of the city’s acclaimed cultural attractions are located near Pennsylvania Avenue, including the Ford’s Theatre, the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Archives and Records Administration. Both the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building can be reached directly by way of Pennsylvania Avenue, as well. In fact, American lawmakers once enjoyed unobstructed views of both buildings back during the late 1790s. Much of Pennsylvania Avenue below 9th Street was a marshland that engineers did not dredge until after the War of 1812. The route itself was lined with underbrush, which gave the area a unique pastoral appearance. President Thomas Jefferson decided to remove these obstacles, while also enlarging the road exponentially. He tasked Benjamin Henry Latrobe—the same architect responsible for designing the U.S. Capitol Building—to complete the project.

    But Pennsylvania Avenue did not start to resemble its current appearance until the 1850s, when real estate moguls began erecting a myriad of new buildings throughout the neighborhood. This development continued well into the 20th century, as the national government created a complex of office buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue known as the “Federal Triangle.” Consisting of places like the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Center, Federal Triangle quickly became the centerpiece of Pennsylvania Avenue. Dozens of additional structures appeared during the mid-20th century, when President John F. Kennedy—and later Lyndon B. Johnson—led a large-scale effort to rehabilitate the district. Pennsylvania Avenue is today part of the ceremonial heart of Washington. Every U.S. President since Thomas Jefferson have paraded down the road toward the U.S. Capitol Building as part of their inauguration. Several presidents even had their funeral processions follow Pennsylvania Avenue, including William Henry Harrison, Abraham Lincoln, and Gerald Ford. The whole area surrounding the Riggs Washington DC near Pennsylvania Avenue is now protected by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Register of Historic Places District.


  • About the Architecture +

    The Riggs Washington DC was originally designed by architect James Hill, who masterfully used Romanesque Revival-style architecture to form its exterior appearance. Historians analyzing the building in later years noticed that Hill had clearly mimicked the Romanesque stylings of H.H. Richardson's Marshall Field Warehouse in Chicago, Illinois. Inspired by medieval European design aesthetics, Romanesque Revival architecture is characterized largely by the use of semi-circular arches. Other common structural elements included in Romanesque Revival-style designs include thick walls, sturdy pillars, and symmetrical layouts. The original Romanesque architecture borrowed heavily from ancient Roman and Byzantine buildings, which is why Romanesque-theme structures showcase such features as barrel vaults and decorative arcading.

    The Washington Loan & Trust Company selected the site of the historic St. Cloud Hotel at the intersection of F and 9th Streets for the location of its new headquarters. The St. Could Hotel itself was a celebrated icon in downtown Washington, having served as a popular boarding house since the 1850s. The Washington Loan & Trust Company subsequently demolished the building when it acquired the property toward the end of the 19th century, replacing it with Hill’s magnificent L-shaped commercial structure. Standing nine-stories tall, the building’s exterior was built upon a strong steel frame and tile arches. Gray granite ashlar was used to fill the frame, while thick red brick supported its interior loadbearing walls. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s official Nomination Form:

    “The 9-stories of the building are organized in four separate courses of varied widths. Above a low granite

    foundation with a smooth upper course, the lower two floors, treated as a basement, are combined in a single

    unit which is crowned by a plain frieze and a cornice with dentil course, echinus and fascia. The frieze originally

    carried the words Washington Loan £ Trust Company in raised letters on both facades. An arcaded effect is

    created by the combination of the next four stories into one unit which is topped by another cornice consisting

    of a checkered billet molding and a fascia. The 7th and 8th stories form another distinct unit in design, with

    cornice of brackets supporting a cyma recta. The fourth course, the 9th story, is crowned by a full entablature

    composed of a plain architrave on a billet, a bracketed frieze and a cavetto and cyma recta cornice. The heavy

    corner piers frame the whole design and emphasize the structure's solidity.”

    Perhaps the single greatest architectural element of the Riggs Washington DC is its widespread fenestration. Fenestration refers to the way in which an architect or engineer arranges the windows and doors on the elevations of a building. The fenestration around the first floor of the structure is the most pronounced, as it featured a series of round-headed arched windows enclosed with rock-faced voussoirs, archivolt molding, and pier imposts. The pier imposts themselves contained beautiful Byzantine-style leaf motifs. Granite transom bars defined the window arches on the second floor, while stories three through six showcased a series of arcaded bays complete with prominent colonnettes. At the top floor—the ninth—this effect was repeated, although with twice as many arched openings.

    Due to the mounting popularity with the financial services offered by the Washington Loan & Trust Company, its board of directors decided to exponentially expand the structure again in 1911. This new addition comprised the main banking room, which now functions as the heart of the hotel’s restaurants. The space contained Roman and Italian Renaissance design principles, including several irregularly placed Corinthian columns. More construction work followed at the height of the Roaring Twenties when architect Arthur Heaton built a new wing along F Street. As such, the layout of the Washington Loan & Trust Company building changed from an “L-shape” to a “U-shape.” Heaton took great care to ensure that his addition’s exterior appearance closely resembled Hill’s original work. As such, the structure displays a remarkable amount of uniformity. Both Hill’s and Heaton’s designs remain largely unaltered to this day, making the building one of the most unique landmarks in the heart of Washington.

    Many of the interior spaces still convey the financial origins of the Riggs Washington DC, thanks in large part to the Lore Group. When the Lore Group began its thorough renovation of the building in 2017, it uncovered historical medallions that featured the Juno Moneta, the Roman Goddess of money, trust, and protection. The Lore Group not only kept those medallions—they also reincorporated the motif throughout the building. Guests can witness this artistic experience in every single guestroom, as well as in the hotel’s lobby. The Lore Group also retained many of the original architectural features of Hill’s Barrel Vault, which now operates as a lounge called the Silver Lyan. The construction workers from the 2017 renovations even uncovered a small event space that the Lore Group dubbed as the “Cabinet Room.” It can be reserved today for groups of up to 25 people and still features its original vaulted doors.


  • Famous Historic Events +

    As the heir to the Washington Loan and Trust Company’s legacy, the Riggs Washington DC has a significant historical connection to the Riggs National Bank. Now a part of PNC Financial Services, the bank was hailed as one of the most important financial institutions in the United States. Its prestige was so great that the Riggs National Bank once handled the personal accounts of 23 different U.S. Presidents. Such celebrated American statesmen like Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight D. Eisenhower all tasked the bank with protecting their own wealth. Yet, Riggs National Bank also handled the finances of many other renowned political figures, including famous U.S. Senators Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John C. Calhoun. Generals William Tecumseh Sherman and Douglas MacArthur relied upon the services of the bank, as did renowned activists Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton. The Riggs National Bank even opened accounts for the many different embassies that operated in Washington throughout the 19th century. As such, the bank developed a commanding presence within the political landscape that characterized the nation’s capital.

    The Riggs National Bank originally began during the 1830s as a small brokerage house managed by William Wilson Corcoran. Corcoran later joined with George Washington Riggs to form “Corcoran & Riggs,” before becoming “Corcoran & Company” in 1854. In 1896, Corcoran & Company was reorganized as the “Riggs National Bank” following decades of unrivaled success. The only approved federal creditor in Washington for many years, the bank had financed some of the most historic moments in American history. Shortly after its accreditation in 1844, Corcoran & Company supported Samuel Morse’s invention of the telegraph. It also bankrolled Robert Peary’s first expedition to the North Pole, as well as the expansion of the U.S. Capitol Building during the American Civil War. But Corcoran & Company also loaned money directly to the federal government on numerous occasions, including Secretary of State William Seward’s procurement of the Alaskan Territory in 1868. Some of the bank’s officials even rose to national prominence, such as when Robert V. Flemings served as a special economic advisor to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression. A series of scandals in the 21st century proved to be its eventual downfall, though, which forced its closure and subsequent acquisition by PNC in 2005.


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