The Blaine Mansion, one of the earliest of the great houses on Dupont Circle, passed through several ownership's over the years but has been in the Spencer family since 1920. It was converted into professional office space in the 1940s, giving a home to the law offices of Samuel Spencer, an attorney who oversaw the pre-home rule government of the District of Columbia in the 1950s. Spencer, also known for his work as general counsel for the American Institute for Architects, drew up what is now the industry standard AlA contract.
The driving force behind this year's restoration work on the mansion, Spencer died in March at age 86, just five weeks before the renovation was completed.
Blaine Mansion Housed Many Notables
James C. Blaine, who lost to Grover Cleveland in the 1884 presidential race, served as secretary of state under presidents James Garfield and Benjamin Harrison. He planned to build his home on 16th Street near Scott Circle but settled on the Dupont Circle site where construction began in 1881.
The Blaine moved into their new home in December 1882 but lived there only a short time, possibly because the residence was too large and expensive to maintain. Later tenants in the mansion include Levi Leiter, the Chicago millionaire who was a partner with Marshall Field, owner of a chain of Chicago department stores.
Blaine died in 1893 and his wife eventually sold the house to George Westinghouse, inventor of the air brake and founder of Westinghouse Electric Co. The house was purchased by Henry B. Spencer in 1920 and was home to the Japanese Embassy from 1922-25. Spencer converted the building into office space in the late 1940s and in 1956 it passed to Spencer's children. The mansion now houses law and medical offices.