The original “Eckington” included this mansion, built in 1815 by Joseph Gales, publisher of the National Intelligencer
, on top of a hill on a 112-acre estate in what was then Washington county. The current location would be 200 T Street NE.
|Illustration from John Clagett Proctor, ed., Washington Past and Present: A History (1930).|
Here Gales welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette during his triumphal trip to America in 1824. Gales died in 1860, and the house subsequently served as a hospital during the Civil War. Developer George Truesdell purchased the estate in 1887, subdividing most of the land for one of the city’s first streetcar suburbs. In 1892, he converted the Gales Mansion into the Eckington Hotel, adding two large wings designed by architect James G. Hill. The hotel burned spectacularly one night in 1894 but was subsequently rebuilt.
Two years later, Truesdell sold it to Rev. Flournoy Menefee (1854-1927), who converted it into the Washington College, a boarding school for girls. Menefee, a native of Missouri, had run the Liberty Ladies College in Liberty, Missouri, before moving the Washington to open the Washington College.
|Postcard mailed in 1909 from Washington College (author's collection).|
In 1922, the Carmelite Sisters purchased the former school and repurposed it as the Mount Carmel Retreat House.
|Undated postcard (author's collection).|
The retreat house did not last long. By the mid 1930s, the property had been sold again. The Gales Mansion was demolished, and the grounds were subdivided for residential development.
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