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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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O Say Can You See: 1908

O Say Can You See: 1908

1908. "Key Mansion, Washington, D.C." The Georgetown residence of "Star-Spangled Banner" author Francis Scott Key, transmogrified over the years into a freeway ramp. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative. View full size.

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Checkered Past

In 1908, Key's poem, set to music, was still many years away from becoming America's official anthem (in 1931). One wonders what the good citizens of 1908 would have thought had they known that the song's melody was borrowed from the 1775 bawdy drinking song "Anacreon in Heaven," the first verse of which can be heard here:

Manor a Mouse

I gotta say, someone was playing fast and loose with the word "mansion."

(Not the original title of my post, but your title is much better)

O Say, Can You See

Ironic that right before what's left of the house was taken down (and later lost), the business occupying the Key Mansion remnant was selling tents, awnings and ... flags.

By the dawn's early light

of about 1912, the entire gabled top floor was removed and replaced with a flat roof. That was the twilight's last gleaming for the old Key Mansion.

See no more.

Despite local efforts to save the building, it was razed in 1948 to make way for a ramp connecting the Whitehurst Freeway to the Key Bridge:

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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