I am typing today from a desk in a building erected in 1864, Washington DC. Before its reputation as a hotel, the Morrison Clark Inn was two separate households near the fashionable Mount Vernon Square. Joined as a single establishment in 1923 the property became a well known “Military Club” housing as much as 45,000 enlisted men at the height of World War II. Sometimes 9 or 10 to a room, soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen slept, ate, and certainly drank, through these very halls.
To stay here is a literal walk through the history of D.C. Large elegant stairways lead up from both 11th and L, adorned with blossoming gardens filled with seasonal flowers and cherry trees. The veranda that surrounds the property is strewn with black wire lawn furniture and 1920’s style ash trays. I half expect Tom Buchannan to swing open the doors and greet me with a bear hug as I walk up to the main entrance. The lobby exudes the same atmosphere and class as the façade. It is amazing to me that the modern home has forgotten such essential elements of a house as the sitting room. An informally elegant room of couches, chairs, coffee tables, and long pronounced windows. A place indoors that feels more like a garden or terraced balcony.
I can picture, in 1943, a group of enlisted men enjoying their last Scotch and sodas before shipping out to the front lines. Fresh baked muffins and cherry scones with butter on oversized serving platters in the dining room. Nurses in fresh whites gathering at 7 am for a coffee before their rounds.
It is pleasurably romantic to sit and drink espresso in this new world of my historical creation.