• Strange But True
     
     
    The Italian dictator was captured, executed and buried in his home country in 1945. So why did his brain end up at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington?
  • Image of the ground level buildings at Arlington Radio Station, surrounded by the radio towers.
    The Arlington Radio Towers
     
     
    Arlington, Virginia was once home to one of the most powerful radio stations in history, helping to usher in an era of wireless communications worldwide
  • Test tubes containing bovine tubercular bacteria. (Source: Library of Congress)
    World War I German Sabotage
     
     
    During World War I, German saboteurs cultivated anthrax and glanders germ cultures in the basement of a home in Upper Northwest Washington, D.C.
  • Helen Hayes
    Desegregation in Washington
     
     
    Helen Hayes is known for her acting, not her activism. But in 1948, she was one of many artists who took a stand against segregation in D.C. theaters.
  • Soldiers in trenches train for gas exposure with masks on and smoke billowing over their heads as they move (source: National Archives)
    World War I History
     
     
    The use of land on American University's campus and in Spring Valley for chemical testing during World War I left reminders of war a century later.

The Dangerous Ghosts of WWI Research in Spring Valley

Photograph showing the mystery location of the 'Hades' pit in future Spring Valley neighborhood, where World War I munitions were buried after the war's end. (source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

On January 7, 1993, an alarming headline greeted readers of The Washington Post: “25 HOUSES EVACUATED AS WWI SHELLS EXAMINED.” The previous day, a backhoe operator digging a trench in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Northwest Washington had uncovered a suspicious object. The construction company called the D.C. Fire Department… who called the police… who called the bomb squad. Within hours, 25 homes in the upscale neighborhood had been temporarily evacuated as munitions crews from the Army Technical Escort Unit at Aberdeen Proving Grounds investigated. Their verdict? The objects were unexploded mortar and artillery shells – and there might be more in the area.

View of the Phillips Collection building in DC

America's First Modern Art Museum

The country’s first modern art museum was established 100 years ago in a Dupont Circle townhouse. And since the Phillips Collection celebrated its centenary last year, it’s a great time to remind Washingtonians that their city has a rich art history—largely exemplified by the story of this museum.

When the Willard Hotel served as the White House

The Presidential Flag flew outside the Willard Hotel when President Calvin Coolidge stayed there in 1923.

For the first weeks of his presidency, Calvin Coolidge conducted business from a different iconic D.C. residence — the Willard Hotel. The Coolidges lived at the hotel while he was Vice President and they waited to move to the White House until Warren Harding’s family had time to move out after he died in office.

John Collier's Conference at the Cosmos Club

Madison Place in the early 1900s

By 1934, BIA Commissioner John Collier believed that land allotment and other policies meant to help Native Americans were doing more harm than good, and he wanted to reverse them through an ambitious bill known as the Indian Reorganization Act (also called the Wheeler-Howard Act). Collier’s bill would not only nullify the land allotment policy, but it would also allow Native American tribes to govern themselves, decentralize the BIA, consolidate Native land, and transfer Indigenous children from boarding schools to day schools.

The Show Must Go On: Shirley Horn at the Howard Theatre

Exterior of the Howard Theatre at night

By the late 1950s, Shirley Horn had performed all up and down the U Street corridor a countless number of times, but her show at the Howard Theatre one October night in 1958 was particularly memorable for her. The jazz pianist and singer happened to be in the ninth month of her pregnancy at the time and was expecting the baby to be due any day.

Pages