The Hay Adams Hotel

January 17, 2009 at 7:16 pm (Current affairs, History, Local interest (Baltimore-Washington))

In a letter to today’s Washington Post, James Symington fills us in on the fascinating story of Washington’s Hay Adams Hotel, where the Obamas stayed before moving to Blair House this past Thursday. Symington’s own family played a part in the hotel’s history – or rather, its pre-history.

The Hay Adams

The Hay Adams


John Hay

Henry Adams

Henry Adams

The Hay Adams was built in 1928 on the site where the homes of Henry Adams and John Hay once stood.

five In his letter, Symington mentions Patricia O’Toole’s The Five of Hearts, a history of the Adams and Hay families during America’s Gilded Age. I note with dismay that our local library no longer owns this title, which, until recently, was out of print. The good news is that it was re-issued by Simon and Schuster in 2006. (Here is the  library’s request to purchase form.) Since its original publication in 1990, The Five of Hearts has been one of the many books I’ve always meant to read; Mr. Symington’s letter has jumped it up to a spot near the top of an admittedly absurdly long list!

In addition to the list of must-reads, there’s a list of things I must see. One of them is the Adams Memorial in Rock Creek Park Cemetery. This sculpture by Augustus Saint Gaudens was commissioned by Henry Adams for his wife, Marian “Clover” Hooper Adams.



  1. franzecad said,

    There’s a lot about Saint-Gaudens and his work, and life, in David McCullough’s fabulous book “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris.”
    He discusses this particular piece. Adams’ wife had committed suicide, and Adams commissioned the work for her, without having any suggestions what it would be, and not even seeing the piece until it was installed. Adams named it “The Peace of God.”

    • Roberta Rood said,

      As luck would have it, I’m just getting ready to start THE GREATER JOURNEY! Thanks for this information.

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