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Discover the History Behind the Swann House Bed & Breakfast in Washington DC.

Updated: Oct 19, 2023



Swann House is one of the oldest freestanding mansions in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. The home was constructed in 1883 by Washington artist and architect Walter Paris for his own use. The cost of the building was approximately $18,000- an impressive amount in those times. Paris never lived here however, choosing to travel and reside at the Cosmos Club when in Washington. Mr. Paris' paintings hang in the White house & Smithsonian!


The house was sold to Colonel Theodore Tyrer, a lawyer and president of the Washington Real Estate Company, who lived in the house from 1886 until 1901. In 1899, Tyrer hired architect Thomas Franklin Schneider to remove the original wood front porch and replace it with the larger and far more imposing brick and stone porch with Romanesque columns that exists today. A student of renowned architect, HH Richardson, Schneider was responsible for many of the grand Richardson Romanesque buildings seen today in Dupont Circle.

In 1912, Swann house played host to one of the highlights of the social calendar for that year. The home was then owned by Mrs. Oliver Cromwell, a prominent woman widowed some years prior. She was remarried in January 1912 to ET Stotesbury, a Philadelphian whose partnership with JP Morgan made him one of the wealthiest men in America. The wedding took place here in the bride's home with both JP Morgan and President Taft in attendance. The bride received a gift of $4 million dollars on her wedding day from her new husband and a pearl necklace reported to cost $500,000 from Mr. and Mrs. Morgan. The Stotesburys built grand homes in Pam Beach, Bar Harbor, Maine, and a 150-room villa outside Philadelphia known as Whitemarch Hall. Mrs. Stotesbury set the social calendar wherever she happened to be in residence. Her children from her first marriage also played prominent roles in society. Her son, James Cromwell, was the first husband of tobacco heiress Doris Duke and for a short time Ambassador to Canada under FDR. Daughter Louise married General Douglas MacArthur on Valentine's Day 1922.

In 1920, Swann House was home to David Houston who was President Wilson's Agriculture Secretary, later appointed to Secretary of the Treasury.


Like many of the grand homes in Washington, Swann House became a boarding house for returning solders from World War II eventually falling into disrepair for decades.

In 1986, the home was purchased by Mark Montgomery and Wallace Tutt and extensive restoration began. Luckily, the house's 10 fireplaces, elaborate cornice moldings, fluted woodwork, and inlaid wood floors were carefully retained. It was at this time the sunroom was added to the back of the house as well as the pool and bedroom balconies. Upon completion of the renovation, the home was given the moniker, "Swann House" as tribute to its Swann Street location.


In 1989, Richard and Mary Ross purchased the newly restored Swann House as their home. Mary was personally responsible for selecting the color palette of each room as well as the fabrics and furnishings. They opened their treasured home as a bed & breakfast in 1996.


{verdigreen} hotels & residencies, a boutique lodging brand whose mission is to breathe new life into historic inns, acquired the mansion in 2022. After a vast renovation, Swann House Bed & Breakfast reopened in October 2023. The new design celebrates the authenticity of the space and pays homage to the 19th century craftsmanship with elaborately carved fireplaces and original plaster moldings while offering today’s travelers modern conveniences, approachable luxury furnishings and hand selected artwork.


Swann House offers 8 beautiful, individually decorated guest rooms and plenty of gathering options for our guests. Enjoy complimentary daily breakfast in our grand Dining room, play piano or unwind by wood burning fireplace in The Parlor, dive into one of the board games or get cozy and read a book from our curated library in The Study, enjoy sunshine and beautiful pool garden views while lounging in The Solarium. After a day in the city, rejuvenate in our private slate courtyard oasis and a sundeck with a swimming pool.


The floor plan flow and common space design of the ground floor is perfect for hosting special events, from business meetings to private celebrations and large parties. To speak to a venue manager please reach out to events@swannhouse.com.


Book your stay at Swann House Bed & Breakfast today and be a part of this wonderfully historic experience.


Thank you for reading,

The Team at Swann House


Remember to follow Swann House on Instagram and Facebook, and tell us about your stay over at Trip Advisor or Google. We look forward to hosting your next DC trip!



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