Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blair House - Washington, D.C.

I recently watched the Health Care debate and did some research on Blair House where the meeting was being held.

Blair is certainly a Scottish name and was first found in Ayrshire.  In America, families named "Blair" began arriving before the American Revolution.  It may be either a first or last name and may mean "field or plain."  Bonnie Blair, an Olympic gold medalist in speed skating, falls within the parameters of that name and has been honored by the Illinois St. Andrew Society.

Blair House was first built in 1824, made of buff colored limestone in the Federal style.  The house was built for Joseph Lovell who was Surgeon General of the Army.  Later, it was bought by Francis Preston Blair, who was a friend to President Jackson. 

Next door, Francis Blair built a house for his daughter and her husband, Captain Samuel Philips Lee. He was a grandson of Richard Henry Lee and a third cousin of Robert E. Lee.  Duncan Bruce states in his book The Mark of the Scots  that "Robert E. Lee had some Scottish ancestors."

In time the two houses were combined and is sometimes referred to as the Blair-Lee House.  The house was purchased by the U.S. Government in 1924.  It has primarily be used to house heads of state visiting the President.

Blair House is now a complex of 4 connected townhouses which includes the original dwelling.  It is now larger than the White House, consisting of about 70,000 square feet.

Nice place to have a meeting that didn't accomplish very much.  

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