Commercial Architecture May 2017 - 16
More than two centuries of history, as well
as modern amenities, lie behind the façade
of a Washington landmark.
ore than two hundred years ago, George Watterston, the third Librarian of Congress, his wife,
Maria, and their six children, lived a few blocks
south of the Capitol, in one of the earliest Federal-style mansions "on the hill," as the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Washington, D.C., was then commonly called.
The property stayed in the family for nearly a hundred years.
After several private owners, the Cato Institute, a libertarian
public-policy research organization, moved into the property in
1981 before relocating to another building in 1993. In 1994, the
National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA), a non-profit lobbying organization dedicated to advancing the rights and freedoms of Native Americans, bought the property. In January
1996, the house was added to the National Register of Historic
Tasked with preserving the historic Watterston home, the
team at Leo A Daly, Washington, was also responsible for building an addition to the main house, along with providing underground parking. To accomplish these objectives, the Leo A
Daly team faced several architectural and design challenges.
In doing so, little did they know that in preserving this historic building, they were also unearthing a part of American
history: a complicated and intricate web of politics, literature,
race, and slavery.
EXPANDING THE HOUSE
After occupying the Watterston House for about 15 years,
NIGA sought to increase its presence on Capitol Hill. As a
COMMERCI A L A RCHI T EC T URE
The historic façade of the Watterston House is
shown in the foreground, while the new addition
and landscaped terrace is in the background.
Photos: courtesy Leo A Daly, Prakash Patel.