1651 Pennsylvania Avenue may not be a well-known address, but the structure on that site is known throughout the world as Blair House, the President's guesthouse, managed by the Office of the Chief of Protocol.
The Blair House of today is actually four interconnected townhouses forming a 110-room complex totaling 70,000 square feet. The original Blair House, from which the entire complex takes its name, appears on Pennsylvania Avenue as a yellow masonry structure in the late federal style. Blair House has long been associated with important events in American history, and in recent times, world history. An invitation to visit the United States and stay at Blair House is an extraordinary honor for a foreign head of state.
Blair House was built around 1824 by Dr. Joseph Lovell, the first Surgeon General of the United States, on land purchased from Commodore Stephen Decatur. In 1836, Francis Preston Blair, who ran the Globe newspaper and was one of Andrew Jackson's closest confidants, purchased the house for $6,500. Following Blair's retirement to Maryland in 1842, the house was occupied by his descendents and other notable people for the next 100 years.
During World War II, Blair House was purchased by the federal government and officially became the President's guesthouse for heads of state visiting the White House. The house underwent a major renovation in the 1980s and remains a magnificent home for monarchs, presidents and prime ministers while in Washington.
For a virtual tour and to learn more about the rooms and visitors to the Blair House, visit www.blairhouse.org.