Wardman Park Annex and Arcade
Marriott Wardman Park Tower
|Location||2600 Woodley Rd. NW, Washington, District of Columbia|
|Area||2.7 acres (1.1 ha)|
|Architectural style||Colonial Revival|
|NRHP reference #||84000869 (original)|
|Added to NRHP||January 31, 1984|
|Boundary increase||May 10, 2019|
The Washington Marriott Wardman Park is a convention hotel located at 2600 Woodley Road NW, in the Woodley Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C.. The hotel is on Connecticut Avenue and is adjacent to the Woodley Park station of the Washington Metro. It is two blocks from the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The 1,152-room hotel contains 195,000 square feet (18,100 m2) of total event space and 95,000 square feet (8,800 m2) of exhibit space and is managed by Marriott International.
The hotel's Wardman Tower wing was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 31, 1984.
Built between 1917 and 1918 by local developer Harry Wardman, the Wardman Park Hotel was an eight-story, red brick structure modeled on The Homestead resort in Virginia. The hotel was the largest in the city, with 1200 rooms and 625 baths. It was nicknamed Wardman's Folly, due to its location far outside the developed area of Washington.
It opened on November 23, 1918, just days after the Armistice with Germany ending World War I. No elaborate opening festivities were held, however, as all public gatherings had been made illegal while the city was in the grips of the 1918 flu pandemic then sweeping the globe. The hotel was hugely successful, due to the housing shortage caused by Washington's growth during World War I.
In 1928, the hotel was expanded with an eight-story, 350-room residential-hotel annex, designed by architect Mihran Mesrobian. That building is today the only surviving portion of the original Wardman Park, known as the Wardman Tower and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wardman was forced to sell the hotel in 1931, due to the Great Depression, to Washington Properties.
Before the United States' entry into World War II, a British spy named Cynthia operated out of the premises as she spied on the Vichy French Embassy. At night, she would visit her lover, an embassy employee whom she had compromised, and steal top-secret documents, transporting them back to the hotel and photographing them in a lab she had set up in her room.
The hotel contained a full service drug store/pharmacy; the pharmacist was known as Doc Wardman. There was also a U.S. Post Office and in the basement one could shop at a butcher, grocery store, and dry cleaner. Despite World War II, one could always get meat, butter, and other rationed goods in the basement.
In the late 1940s, the Olympic sized hotel pool was utilized by the 5th Marine Reserves who were taught how to swim with their clothes on. Images of Army Special Forces soldiers rappelling down the side of the Sheraton Park Hotel have also been located, taken during a training exercise on October 3, 1962.
The first televised broadcast of NBC's Meet the Press took place in 1947 in the Wardman Tower, where host Lawrence Spivak was a resident. Other shows broadcast from the hotel include The Camel News Caravan, The Today Show (Frank Blair segments), and The Arthur Murray Dance Program.
In 1953, Washington Properties sold the hotel to Sheraton Hotels. Renamed the Sheraton-Park Hotel, the largely residential hotel was gradually converted to house mainly overnight guests. Substantial additions were made to the property, transforming it into a full-scale convention hotel, including large new ballrooms and the 1964 addition known as the Motor Inn and later known as the Park Tower.
By the late 1970s, it was decided that the 1918 main building was outdated and unable to be modernized. Construction began in 1977 on a modern replacement hotel, immediately adjacent on the property. When it opened in 1980, as the Sheraton Washington Hotel, the original building closed and was demolished.
In 1998, following a protracted lawsuit against Sheraton by the hotel's then owners, John Hancock Insurance and the Sumitomo Corporation, Marriott International took over management of the property, renaming the hotel the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. In 1998, Thayer Lodging Group of Annapolis, Maryland purchased the hotel for $227 million and spent another $100 million on renovations. In 2005, the hotel was sold to JBG Smith and CIM Group for $300 million.
On November 20, 2008, while giving a speech at the hotel to the Federalist Society, United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed. He lost consciousness but was talking when he was led away to George Washington University Hospital.
In 2015, JBG renovated floors 3-8 of the Wardman Tower into 32 luxury condominiums. The first and second floors remain part of the hotel. The condos are separate from the hotel and do not share an entrance or connecting interior passageways. The project was financed by a $54 million investment from North America Sekisui House LLC (NASH), the North American division of the largest homebuilding corporation in Japan, in February 2014. One of the condominium units sold for $8.4 million.
The Wardman Tower building has been home to a number of politicians and other public figures, including two U.S. presidents:
Vice President Thomas R. Marshall lived for a short time in the Wardman Park Hotel that was destroyed in 1980.
As one of the largest event spaces in Washington DC, the Marriott Wardman Park hosts many annual events including: