The New Home of the Embassy of Hungary
1500 Rhode Island Ave NW
The Broadhead-Bell-Morton Mansion: a history
The house was originally built for Mr. and Mrs. John Brodhead. It was sold in 1882 to Mr. and Gardiner Greene Hubbard, whose daughter Mabel was married to Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone. Bell was apparently not eager to move, but Mable later wrote to a friend: "Alex has about stopped railing at Washington and is beginning to find therre are nice scientific people here."
It was later purchased and occupied by United States Vice President Levi Parsons Morton (1889-1903) and then in turn consecutively rented to Massachusetts Senator Charles F. Sprague (1895-1903) and Secretary of War and later Secretary of State Elihu Root (1907-1911), whose tirless efforts on behalf of world peace earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1912.
Levi Morton returned to Washington in 1912 and began a radical renovation that changed the mansion from brick Victorian to pale stone Italian revival. A hallmark of the renovation was the installation of the graceful three-story spiral staircase, incorporating the “M.”
The American Coatings Association (1940-2016)
In 1940, the building became the headquarters for the American Coatings Industry. The building was sold for $95,000 – ironically, the exact amount Morton paid in 1889. The paint and coatings industry promptly set about transforming the house into a headquarters. As one historian wrote, “While some of the elegance of yesterday remains, much of it had to be sacrificed…to functional furnishing, modern lighting, and overall efficiency.”
The Present & the Future
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the new building of the Embassy of Hungary will stand as a symbol of post-communist, democratic Hungary and usher in a new era of U.S.-Hungarian relations.