By Elliot Carter
This ornate mansion on Dupont Circle served as a temporary White House for President Calvin Coolidge.
The Patterson Mansion was commissioned at the turn of the century by the editor of the Chicago Tribune. The house was one of several mansions built in Dupont during the Gilded Age. The growing neighborhood offered privacy and clean air to a group of millionaires and tycoons who wanted to escape the filth of industrial Washington.
The Pattersons occupied the mansion for only ten years. After Robert Patterson's death, his wife Nellie grew morbidly obese and spent most of her time at their Chicago residence. In 1927 President Coolidge ordered renovations to the White House, and he chose the vacant Patterson Mansion as his temporary residence. Charles Lindbergh visited Coolidge during this period and addressed a crowd from mansion's balcony.
Following a spat between Nellie's daughter Cissy Patterson and her daughter Felicia, the house was willed to the American Red Cross in 1946. The Red Cross already had a spectacular headquarters across from The Ellipse however, so they sold the mansion in 1951 to the Washington Club, a women's social group.
Membership of the Washington Club has declined in recent years and they sold the property in 2013 for $20 million. The mansion is currently undergoing significant renovations, and developer SB-Urban is transforming the former White House into 92 luxury micro apartments. Washington Business Journal reports that the plan includes "the construction of a six-story addition, and interior and exterior alterations and repairs to the existing building."