To be a part of the vibrant life of the university, Dr. LeBlanc followed in the tradition of his predecessor, Steven Knapp, and took up permanent residence on the Foggy Bottom Campus. The classic Georgian brick mansion at 1925 F Street is the residence of the 17th president and his wife, Anne LeBlanc.
From Private Residence to the F Street Club
Built in 1849 for a U.S. Navy captain, the F Street House was sold to a Washington businessman in 1868. From 1923 until 1933, the home was leased to Laura Curtis, who hosted many luncheons and dinners in the salon for Washington society.
During the Depression and height of Prohibition, Curtis turned the parlor level into a dinner and social club and began charging a membership fee. In the mid-1930s, after she married John Gross and moved to his home, the property continued to be managed as a members-only social gathering place known as the F Street Club.
A Washington Institution
Washington’s social chronicles reveal that many of the 20th century’s leading political and cultural figures dined at the F Street Club. It was so much a part of the Washington scene that in 1938 The Washington Star reported, “…members feel that the 1925 F Street Club is just about as permanent as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin every spring.”
Diplomats, assured of privacy in the old mansion, took up matters of international import. The founding of NATO, relations with the Soviet Union, and ownership of the Panama Canal were all discussed inside the salon’s walls. Famous journalists such as Clare Boothe Luce, Time magazine editor Henry Grunwald and The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham all favored the club. Eleanor Roosevelt called it “a charming house, which lends itself well to meetings and parties.” Jackie Kennedy attended a cocktail party in her honor at the club, and an inaugural party for Richard Nixon was held there.
A GW Icon
The house was purchased by the George Washington University in 1974, and added Presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton to its roster of famed visitors. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and rededicated as the GW Alumni House in 1999.
In 2007, renovations began to transform the F Street House into both a private residence and centerpiece for the life of the university community, which it continues to be today.
GW continued the F Street Club tradition after purchasing the property in 1974. Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Clinton have all attended events at the club.
Ronald and Nancy Reagan hosted a candlelight dinner party there before taking up residence at the White House.
The mansion was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The F Street Club finally closed. Staying true to the mansion’s tradition as a place for friends to gather and share ideas, GW rededicated the building as its Alumni House.
The historic structure became home to Steven Knapp, the first GW president to have permanent residence on the Foggy Bottom campus. Renovations preserve the home’s distinguished heritage while incorporating “green” sustainability measures.
President Thomas LeBlanc is eager to uphold the legacy of the F Street House as a gathering place for spirited dialogue among faculty, students, alumni, scholars, and global leaders on issues of social, cultural, and intellectual importance to the university and the world beyond.