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Washington DC Hotel

Stay at the Washington Hilton hotel, a recently-restored urban retreat where legendary hospitality, thoughtful amenities and exceptional experiences awaits guests in a location unmatched in the nation’s capital.

Our History

Since opening on March 25, 1965, the legendary Washington Hilton has been linked to historic moments in American history, hosting countless notable guests , from U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, heads of state, business leaders and celebrities from around the world for more than five decades.

It is listed as a place of significance on the National Register of Historic Places within the Washington Heights neighborhood.

Dupont Circle Hotels

Washington Hilton

In 2010, Washington Hilton celebrated its 45th anniversary with three team members who have worked at the hotel since it opened. That same year, Washington Hilton also completed a top-to-bottom, extensive $150 million restoration of the entire hotel, including guest rooms, lobby, restaurants and function space.

Monumental Events

The hotel’s iconic International Ballroom – Washington, DC’s largest hotel ballroom – has served as the backdrop to official Presidential Inaugural Balls, historic political conventions, and monumental meetings. The renowned White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner has been held at the hotel every spring since the mid-1970s, while the National Prayer Breakfast has been held at Washington Hilton every winter since 1966.

Other long-time notable annual events include the First Lady’s Luncheon, National Italian American Foundation Gala, and Fight for Children’s Fight Night with boxing legends and heavyweights in business.

Presidential History

Washington Hilton has had countless visits by every U.S. president since 1965, from President Lyndon B. Johnson to President Barack Obama, and has held an official Presidential Inaugural Ball every four years since President Richard Nixon’s Inaugural Ball in 1969.

While many Inaugural Balls are held throughout the city, Washington Hilton has been the only hotel selected by the Presidential Inauguration Committee in recent years to have the distinction of hosting one of the official Inaugural Balls in which the president attends.

Downtown DC Hotel

Washington Hilton 1965 Building and Construction

In 2009, the hotel was the backdrop of the MTV Youth Ball, where just hours after his inauguration, President Obama saw his portrait hung for the first time in honor of his newly sworn-in position. White House Official Photographer Pete Souza captured the president looking at his own portrait and that of his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama, while he stood in the hotel’s President’s Walk. Later, Souza proclaimed on The Today Show as one of his most memorable photographs he had taken of Obama during the historic Inaugural week.

President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office when the hotel opened in March 1965. He was a pivotal figure in the Civil Rights movement and in the efforts to integrate Washington, DC – including the culture-rich neighborhoods surrounding Washington Hilton.

In the 1970s, presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter were regulars at the hotel – as was Nixon’s Vice President Spiro Agnew, who often played tennis at the hotel with members of Congress. In the ‘80s, President Reagan attended countless functions at the hotel throughout his eight years in office. On March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot while exiting the hotel after attending a speaking engagement in the International Ballroom.

Reagan recovered from the incident and returned to the hotel later that year in October for a special gala honoring the 40th anniversary of the USO with legendary entertainer Bob Hope and President Ford by his side.

President Clinton played the saxophone on stage in the International Ballroom at his Inaugural Ball and regularly attended the National Italian American Foundation galas and White House Correspondents’ Association dinners. President George W. Bush also attended well-known events including the National Prayer Breakfast with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Historic Location

The site on which Washington Hilton sits today has been steeped in history even before the iconic hotel was built. Its documented past began more than two centuries ago as the grounds of a legendary "Treaty Oak" – an ancient oak tree said to be the place where George Washington negotiated and signed a peace treaty with a local Native American tribe.

Downtown Washington DC Hotels

Washington Hilton Construction 1962-1965

Around this same time, in the early 1790s, President Washington commissioned architect Pierre L’Enfant to draw plans for the new capital. Under L’Enfant’s plans for the federal city lay Boundary Street – or the district line – which separated what was then Washington City and Washington County. As it happened, Boundary Street ran immediately to the south of the 10 acres where the mighty “Treaty Oak” sat upon.

Throughout much of the 19th century the land was owned by several Washingtonians. In the early 1800s Colonel Michael Nourse built a large Federal-style house on the land. In 1873, Thomas P. Morgan purchased the land and fashioned the smaller house into a four-story Second Empire mansion, and named his estate Oak Lawn. The high elevation of the lot allowed for a commanding view of the nation’s capital from the house and the shade of the Treaty Oak.

Only a year after constructing Oak Lawn, Morgan sold the property to Edward Dean, president of the Potomac Terra Cotta Company. After the sale, the area was often referred to as “Dean’s Tract” until 1922, when the land was sold to the Freemasons who intended the site to become the location of the National Masonic Temple. While the construction of the Temple was eventually erected in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, the area became well-known as Temple Heights, which it is still called today.

In 1940, famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright put forth a proposal named Crystal Heights which called for a 200-foot tall mixed-use development on the site. The structure was to be made predominately of glass, and included a hotel, apartments, shops and parking. The controversial proposal was never approved due to its height and zoning restrictions.

The land was sold again in 1945 and this time it was cleared – including the demolition of the mighty Treaty Oak, which had partially succumbed to disease and fire damage over the years. The land sat vacant until the 1950s, when Conrad N. Hilton purchased the site to build Washington Hilton.

Today, Boundary Street is now known as Florida Avenue, which borders the site of Washington Hilton to the south. The hotel honored this location with the name of its main restaurant, The District Line. McClellan’s Sports Bar is named after the late 19th century statue of Civil War General McClellan, which rises at the top of the hillcrest on Connecticut Avenue, along the hotel’s main entrance.

In 2010, the hotel planted a Scarlet Oak Tree along the northeast edge of the property in honor of the mighty “Treaty Oak” that once sat on the land. That same year, Washington Hilton completed a $150 million extensive restoration project, which included the opening of Heights Executive Meeting Center, named to honor the hotel’s location within the historic Washington Heights area of the city and a reference to its “Temple Heights” location.

The Heights name is also a nod to the hotel’s location atop one of the highest elevations in the city, and its expansive skyline views that can be enjoyed from the meeting center corridor and outdoor Heights Courtyard. Washington Hilton honors Frank Lloyd Wright Crystal Heights proposal with the name of its Crystal Ballroom.

Architecture

Washington Hilton was the vision of hotel architect William B. Tabler Sr. Curved at every point spanning the nearly six acres it sits upon today, the “Brutalist” concrete and glass structure is shaped into two semi-circles which fan out from one tangent, allowing nearly all of the 1,070 guest rooms a neighborhood or city view.

Tabler was well-known known in the hotel industry for his design innovations. Not to run into the same height restrictions as Frank Lloyd Wright did, Tabler planned for portions of the 12-story hotel to be built underground and into the hill. He also created two hotel entrances – one along Connecticut Avenue for luggage-toting overnight guests, and a second along T Street for arrivals to social events held in the International Ballroom.

Tabler’s hotel work also included Capital Hilton, then known as the Statler Hotel which opened in 1943 just two blocks from the White House, as well as the 1963 Hilton New York and Hilton San Francisco, which opened in 1964.

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