Just a couple of tidbits I want to share before we leave Lafayette Square behind and move on.
Regarding the Church, St. John’s Episcopal,
- Long known as “the Church of the Presidents,” St. John’s Episcopal Church has served virtually as the chapel to the White House for nearly two centuries
- In the depths of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln would sometimes walk to St. John’s from the White House and settle into a pew at the back.
- Every person who has held the office of president has attended at least one service at St. John’s, since Madison.
- Since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s time, St. John’s has offered itself to incoming presidents for a pre-inauguration prayer service.
- As far back as 1816, records show that a committee was formed to wait on the President of the United States and offer him a pew. James Madison chose pew 54 and insisted on paying the customary annual rental. The next five Presidents in succession–James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren and William Henry Harrison–occupied this pew during their terms of office. Since then, by tradition, pew 54 has been set aside for Presidents of the United States.
A funny Story as to how Blair- Lee House became the preferred abode for visiting dignitaries. With 142 rooms you’d think the White House could find a bedroom for a head of state. Beginning in 1942, the Blair family began leasing the property to the U.S. government for use by visiting dignitaries; the government purchased the property outright the following December. The move was prompted in part by a request from Eleanor Roosevelt, who found the casual familiarity Winston Churchill displayed during his visits to the White House off-putting.On one occasion, Churchill tried to enter Franklin Roosevelt’s private apartments at 3:00 a.m. to wake the president for a conversation.
The last straw was when Eleanor walked in on Churchill in the White House kitchen clad only in his stogie. According to the story Churchill was moved to Blair House the next day.
Blair House is know known as the World’s Most Exclusive Hotel!