Emily MacVeagh purchased land from developer Mary Foote Henderson (1841-1931), who actively engaged in transforming Meridian Hill into an elite residential and diplomatic community. The MacVeagh House, built in 1911 by architect Nathan C. Wyeth (1870-1963), was one of the first results of her plans. After MacVeagh’s death, her husband sold the property to the government of Mexico. By then, Meridian Hill was already home to a number of other embassies, including the French, Swiss, Spanish, Cuban, Polish, and Lithuanian.
The Mexican government, in a successful attempt to enhance the mansion’s splendor, added a portico to the Italian-style façade. The interior of the building has aesthetically integrated and combined different styles and shapes, reflecting the dynamics of Mexican culture. The main hall, inspired by late-fifteenth century Italian architecture, is a majestic setting for the mahogany English banister, the eighteenth century Mexican altarpiece, and a three-story mural by Roberto Cueva del Río.
The Embassy of Mexico operated from this location for the next sixty-nine years, until its headquarters moved downtown and the mansion was converted into the Mexican Cultural Institute in 1990. Today, the building upholds its diplomatic legacy through the organization’s ongoing cultural programming aimed at showing the diversity of Mexican creative talent and building bridges of understanding through art and dialogue.
DC Inventory: December 20, 2012
National Register: February 13, 2013