Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scandal

The Mayflower Renaissance : Site of fame and foolish frolicking

Anyway who has traveled on business or vacation has stayed in a variety of hotels and motels along the way. Among the elite hotels in this town is the "Grande Dame of Washington"--the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel. Built in 1925, it remains--more than 80 years later--the largest luxury hotel in Washington with 660 rooms, including 78 suites. When the Mayflower opened, it had more gold leaf than any other building in the country outside of the Library of Congress. In the late 1980s, the hotel underwent more than $11 million in renovations. During the reconstruction, a skylight and two murals were uncovered. They had been covered during the Great Depression and World War II to mask the opulence of the building.

The Mayflower has been the site of presidential inaugural balls in the Grand Ballroom for every president since Calvin Coolidge in 1923. Among other historic footnotes: FDR penned his 1933 inaugural address here. Harry Truman lived in the Mayflower during the first 90 days of his administration. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and "the man who ate lunch with him every day for more than 20 years" Clive Tolson dined daily at the Town & Country restaurant in the hotel.

The hotel has also seen its share of uniquely Washington scandals, involving several politicians and their illicit ladies. Among others: John F. Kennedy's mistress, Judith Exner, stayed here and would sneak over to the White House for trysts when Mrs. Kennedy was out; Bill Clinton's infamous intern, Monica Lewinsky, stayed here at the height of the impeachment trials; and, most recently, Eliot Spitzer, former Attorney General and Governor of New York, was caught in the company of a prostitute in room 871 back in February of this year resulting in his ignominious resignation.

One of these days, I'll go and shoot pictures of the interior. In the meantime, the hotel's website features a lovely photo tour.

On a separate and lighter note, Virginia of Birmingham Daily Photo emailed me yesterday evening and asked to see a picture of my People's Choice Award. Here it is:

It may not look like much, but I'm having it framed anyway!

No fancy-schmancy certificates or trophies or cash prizes for this competition. Just the label from the back of my framed exhibit piece and an overlapping piece of paper letting me know people liked my photo. They liked it. They really liked it!

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential, 09/08

11 comments:

Virginia said...

And we all liked it too!!! So that's what a photography award looks like. I've never seen one. And probably never will.) You get a really nice frame for that and hang it right up!

Halcyon said...

Neat! Thanks for the story of the hotel. I love places with lots of illicit history like that.

D.C. Confidential said...

VJ: Yeah. Impressive, right? I think I'll get a really big, gold-gild frame with a velvet trimmed matte. Or is that going overboard?


Halcyon: The tawdry stuff sells, doesn't it. Or, as they say in the news business, if it bleeds, it leads!

Maya said...

I guess it's the thought that counts, eh?

There seems to be a lot of history and possibly good stories in that hotel... If the walls could speak!

D.C. Confidential said...

Maya: That's what I thought, too. I'm just thrilled to have participated and to have so many people like the photo.

The Mayflower, the Willard-Intercontinental, the Hay-Adams, and the Watergate (among others) hold many secrets in their walls. Volumes could probably be written if those walls could talk!

Virginia said...

I was so excited about your award I forgot to comment on the list of notable that frequented the Mayflower with their "friends". Where was John Edwards' name? Surely he has paid them a visit with his "business associate." Creep!

D.C. Confidential said...

VJ: Yeah, no John Edwards scandals here that I know of, but he's certainly Mayflower Worthy, isn't he? Idiot.

Professor said...

I love the Mayflower...

And congrats again!

D.C. Confidential said...

Prof: Thanks! I had lunch a couple of years ago at the Mayflower and thought it was beautiful! It reminds me of the Waldorf-Astoria, but prettier. (Although, the Waldorf is a grand old hotel in its own right. But I digress.)

Lisa Sarsfield said...

Well done you!!! Celebrate it style:)

I've enjoyed your Mayfair post and been moved by your homeless man image. Can't wait to see the next 99 strangers and wish you well with your quest!

d.c. confidential said...

Thanks, Lisa! I think I'm going to go out tomorrow and try my hand at finding a stranger to photograph. I have a couple of ideas of places I want to go to gather stories.