Built in 1824 for Dr. Joseph Lovell, the first Surgeon General of the United States who organized the Army Corps of Engineers, the Blair House serves as the official guest house of the President of the United States. The house was subsequently purchased in 1836 by Francis Preston Blair, Sr., a member of Andrew Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet" and co-publisher of the Globe, the influential mouthpiece of the administration. Moving for a time in the 1840s to a country house in Maryland, the Blairs rented out the property to a succession of notable tenants, including the first Secretary of the Interior, Thomas Ewing, whose daughter married William Tecumseh Sherman at the house in 1850.
In 1852, the Blairs moved back to the residence and constructed a house next door for Elizabeth Preston Blair, the only daughter of Francis Preston Blair. The two houses began to be used as one, almost as they are today. Montgomery Blair, son of Francis Preston Blair, resided in the house as well and was a trusted advisor to President Lincoln before and during the Civil War. Montgomery Blair was Postmaster General from 1861 to 1864, advised Lincoln on important matters such as the reinforcing of Fort Sumter, and was instrumental in holding Maryland out of the Confederacy. At a conference at the Blair House in 1861, it was decided that Admiral Farragut would command the assault on New Orleans.
After the Civil War, the Blair family's influence began to fade, but the prominence of the family continued to be recognized in Washington society. The house once again took on national significance upon becoming the temporary residence of President Truman from 1948 to 1952, while the White House was under renovation. In recent years, Blair House has served as the residence of many visiting foreign dignitaries, including Queen Elizabeth II, Nikita Khrushchev, Aung Sang Suu Kyi, and many others.
DC Inventory: November 8, 1964 (Joint Committee on Landmarks)
National Register: October 15, 1966
National Historic Landmark: October 29, 1937