Riding the S Lines?

The Sixteenth Street corridor is one of the most important thoroughfares in the nation’s capital, and has a long history closely tied to the Executive Mansion (which serves as its southern terminus). Highlights include embassies, statues, prominent homes, and houses of worship for nearly every denomination. Metrobus routes on the S lines traverse this famous Sixteenth Street corridor.

The Sixteenth Street Historic District, which runs most of this route, includes 119 significant buildings. Built between 1875 and 1920, these buildings range from three-and four-story row houses to churches and apartments. They also include a number of institutional buildings such as The Carnegie Institution, the Women’s Congressional Club, and the impressive Temple of the Scottish Rite. The collection of buildings that exist within the historic district reflect the unique history associated with the development of Sixteenth Street as an area separate from the Dupont Circle neighborhood to the west and Shaw and Logan Circle to the east.

Mary Foote Henderson, wife of Missouri US Senator John Henderson, sought to develop Sixteenth Street as the diplomatic and ceremonial heart of DC; she commissioned architect George Oakley Totten Jr. to design and build a series of impressive embassy buildings to achieve her vision. While few remain today, Embassy Building No. 10 at 3149 Sixteenth Street still stands and is featured on this route.

This tour hopes to draw your attention to the hidden gems along your daily commute or your trip from one historic site to the next. Start at the historic site that’s closest to you! If you're traveling south on S routes, click “Next” to follow along. If you’re traveling north, click “Previous.”

Embassy Building No. 10

In 1928, Embassy Building No. 10 was designed by architect George Oakley Totten Jr. (1866-1939), which was built in the following years. The building was designed to incorporate both public and private domestic activities, as the building is one of…

James Cardinal Gibbons Memorial Statue

James Gibbons (1834-1921) was an American prelate of the Catholic Church. In 1866, Gibbons was elevated to the rank of cardinal. He also served as Apostolic Vicar of North Carolina from 1868 to 1872, Bishop of Richmond from 1872 to 1877, and as ninth…

Guglielmo Marconi Memorial

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) developed wireless telegraphy, an invention that laid the foundation for the invention of radio. Marconi transformed Heinrich Hertz’s 1890s detached radio wave experiment into a practical means of communication. For this…

Francis Asbury Statue

A British missionary to the United States, Francis Asbury (1745-1810) became recognized as the father of the American Methodist Church. At the Methodist Conference of 1771, John Wesley appointed Asbury and Richard Wright to the United States,…

All Souls Unitarian Church

In 1821, the congregation of All Souls Unitarian Church first organized as the First Unitarian Church. The original edifice stood at Sixth and D Streets NW; however, in 1877, the congregation erected a new church at Fourteenth and L Streets, changing…

Old Mexican Embassy (MacVeagh House)

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…

Old Italian Embassy

Built in 1925 on land purchased by the Italian government from Mary Foote Henderson (1841-1931), the Old Italian Embassy is among the most notable mansions Henderson commissioned for Sixteenth Street.  The embassy is a distinguished example of Beaux…

Warder-Totten House

The Warder-Totten House is the only structure designed by the firm of Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1866) remaining in DC. Commissioned in 1885 by American businessman Benjamin Warder (1824-1894) at 1509 K Street NW, the building was razed in 1923 to…

Inter-American Defense Board

The Inter-American Defense Board headquarters, located at 2600 Sixteenth Street NW, is a monumental Venetian late Gothic Revival residence constructed in 1905 as part of socialite and developer Mary Foote Henderson’s (1841-1931) plan to create a…

Old French Embassy

This former embassy is among the finest of nearly a dozen Meridian Hill mansions built by Mary Foote Henderson (1841-1931), in collaboration with her favorite architect, George Oakley Totten Jr. (1866-1939). Built in 1907, the project was her first…

Park Tower

Park Tower illustrates the significant effort expended at the beginning of the twentieth century to develop Sixteenth Street as a prestigious avenue; this was a fashionable address for congressmen, professionals, and other notables during the…

Meridian Hill Park (Malcolm X Park)

Meridian Hill Park, also known today as Malcolm X Park following a 1969 speech by activist Angela Davis, is a distinguished example of landscape design. The hilly, twelve-acre park with its Beaux Arts design elements is notable for its elaborate…

Congressional Club

The Congressional Club is a distinctive classical building with a prominent domed rotunda at the corner of Sixteenth Street and New Hampshire Avenue. Designed by architect George Oakley Totten Jr. (1866-1939), the 1914 building exemplifies the vision…

Scottish Rite Temple

Built in the 1910s, the Temple headquartered the Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction of the Thirty-Third Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Rite of Freemasonry in DC. One of the most unusual buildings in the eclectic Sixteenth Street…

Carnegie Institution of Washington, Administration Building

Founded in 1902 with the belief that basic scientific research is essential to human well-being, the Carnegie Institution of Washington is an early example of American philanthropy. Donating major funds, industrialist turned philanthropist Andrew…

Brevet Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott Statue

Erected in 1874, this equestrian statue of Brevet Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott was the first memorial honoring a Civil War general to be installed in one of DC’s public traffic circles or squares. Throughout his decorated career in the US Army,…

Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church

The Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church contributes significantly to the cultural heritage and visual beauty of DC. The organization of the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church grew out of dissatisfaction among Blacks with the white…

Mrs. George Pullman House (Russian Ambassador's Residence)

Built in 1910 from designs by architects Nathan C. Wyeth (1870-1963) and Francis P. Sullivan (1882-1929), the Pullman House was the property of Hattie Sanger, the widow of the sleeping car magnate; however, it is said she never occupied the French…

The Saint Regis (Carlton Hotel)

The Carlton was built in 1926 by developer Harry Wardman (1872-1938), based on designs by Turkish architect, Mihran Mesrobian (1889-1975). In the Beaux Arts style, this eight-story hotel is a significant example of the popular architecture style…