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Ferrous & Fireproof: 1921

Ferrous & Fireproof: 1921

        Evidently a haunt of John Quincy Adams in the 1820s, "the old house" on F Street was transformed into an office building in 1885 by innkeeper Caleb Willard, who employed the latest fireproofing ideas while managing to preserve "the old wall in the room where Mr. Adams used to sit in his chair and gaze upon the Capitol."

Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Adams Iron Building, F Street." Its ferrous nature echoed in the Sidewalk of Many Manholes. 8x6 glass negative. View full size.


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Home to two presidents

The building this replaced, the one where one wall was retained, was home to two different presidents and built by another.

John Adams built it and it was then owned by William Thornton, the architect of the Capitol.

James Madison lived in it as Secretary of State and again, briefly, as President when the White House was burned down.

Then John Quincy Adams lived in it twice. In the 1820's and again in the 1840's.


Those aren't manholes. Such a straight and tidy row. Maybe it was the Ferrous Walk of Fame: portraits of Abraham Darby, Henry Bessemer, Pierre Berthier, Andrew Carnegie, etc.

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