The Willard Hotel was designed by New York architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and erected by the George A. Fuller Co. Hailed at its opening in 1901 as Washington's first skyscraper, the building successfully adapts the eclectic Beaux-Arts vocabulary of French domestic architecture to the rigors of steel frame and concrete construction. In spite of its massive size, the Willard attains an attitude of dignity and quiet symmetry characteristic of its architect's mature work. Its well-articulated facades are organized both vertically and horizontally into three-part compositions.
An excellent example of French-inspired eclectic Beaux-Arts classicism, the Willard Hotel is perfectly suited to the dominating position it occupies on ceremonial Pennsylvania Avenue. Given its prominent location, the hotel has seen many notable guests, including the first three ambassadors from Japan, who stayed in the hotel of the same name that was previously located on the same site in 1860. The present building has hosted several presidents, including League of Nations planning meetings led by Woodrow Wilson, and significant meetings for various organizations of significance, and other prominent visitors, including Martin Luther King, Jr., who wrote his "I Have a Dream" speech in the hotel prior to the March on Washington.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964
National Register: February 15, 1974
Within Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site