Dupont Circle (July 10, 2020)
We started our second day in Dupont Circle at the Circle itself.
The Circle is named after Samuel Francis Du Pont (1803-65) who was a rear admiral in the United States Navy and the nephew of E.I. du Pont, the founder of the du Pont chemical corporation.
At the center of the Circle is a fountain designed by Henry Bacon and sculpted by Daniel Chester French. Bacon and French are also the architect / sculptor team behind the Lincoln Memorial. The basin at the top of the fountain is supported by three allegorical figures, the Arts of Ocean Navigation, representing the sea, the stars and the wind. The nude male figure pictured below represents the wind. He is holding a conch shell to use as a horn and is wrapped in a ship sail.
Speaking of sculptors, walking down Corcoran Street, we noticed that a number of the houses featured sculptures by the local sculptor, John Cavanaugh who we mentioned in a previous post.
We don’t think the sculpture over this door was by Cavanaugh, but it was rather terrifying.
We liked these ferns and railing
And this window box.
There are a number of embassies and chanceries in this part of Dupont Circle, including the Chancery of Mozambique pictured below.
However, unlike the upper northwest part of Massachusetts Avenue which consists almost entirely of embassies, the avenue east of Dupont Circle includes many non-profit organizations, charities, and Think Tanks. Two well-known ones are the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Brookings Institution.
One of the things that we have really enjoyed during our walks is coming across unexpected places and learning the stories of remarkable people. Today, walking down one of the small side streets that run through the neighborhood, we passed by a nondescript row house that, according to a plaque outside, had once been the home of Carl Lutz. Lutz (1895-75) was a Swiss diplomat who at one time lived and worked in the District and attended George Washington University. He served as the Swiss Vice-Consul in Budapest, Hungary during World War II and is credited with saving over 62,000 Jews. If you don’t know Lutz’s story, we encourage you to look him up. He was an incredibly brave and extraordinary person. Wikipedia provides the following example of Lutz’s bravery: “One day, in front of fascist militiamen while they fired at Jews, Lutz jumped in the Danube River to save a bleeding Jewish woman. With water up to his chest and covering his suit, the consul swam back to the bank with her and asked to speak to the Hungarian officer in charge of the firing squad. Declaring the wounded woman a foreign citizen protected by Switzerland and quoting international covenants, the Swiss consul brought her back to his car in front of the stunned fascists and left quietly. Fearing to shoot at this tall man who seemed to be important and spoke so eloquently, no one dared to stop him.”
We sometimes come across parks tucked in behind houses, that are probably only known to the locals. Here’s an example.
Here are the 16th street churches of the day.
Also tucked into one of the back streets is the The Keegan Theatre. In 2013, the company purchased the Church Street Theater. After an extensive renovation, the theatre was officially reopened with the play “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 2015. The Keegan is now the resident theatre company of Dupont Circle.