Sights and Scenery Beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
WASHINGTON — HIS term has hardly begun, but President-elect Clinton has already made one place in Washington famous: the McDonald's near the White House where he has stopped for coffee after his morning jog. Perhaps sometime in the next century a plaque will grace the site, in honor of the first president to enjoy a Big Mac in public.
This city, so focused on the life of its chief executives, is full of monuments to presidential history. Some, such as the White House, are well known. Others - such as the at least six other houses where sitting presidents have resided - are not.
Here, for those tired of waiting in line for White House passes, is a short list of some of the "nots":
Where they lived. Harry Truman lived in Blair House, across the street from the White House, for most of his second term while the Executive Mansion was being renovated. The Octagon House, a few blocks away, housed James and Dolley Madison for a year after the British burned the White House during the War of 1812. (A curiosity for its shape, the Octagon is now owned by the American Institute of Architects and is open to the public.)
At least four presidents - Martin Van Buren, John Tyler, James Buchanan, and Grover Cleveland - lived in an old Georgian manor on what is now Cathedral Avenue. Located in the breezy northwest heights of the city, this house (now home of a prestigious private school) was cooler in the summer than the White House. The heat and mosquitoes also drove Ulysses S. Grant to a square red-brick mansion on * Street NW, next to what is now the Georgetown Public Library.
The only president to live in Washington after his term expired is Woodrow Wilson. His house at 2340 S Street, where he died, is a near neighbor of the house Franklin Delano Roosevelt lived in when he was assistant secretary of the Navy.
Where they are buried. Woodrow Wilson is also the only president buried in Washington proper, at the National Catherdal. John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft are buried nearby in Virginia's Arlington National Cemetary.
Where they were shot. Every school child knows Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater. But another president was also mortally wounded in Washington: James A. Garfield was shot by a disappointed office seeker at a train station that stood on the current site of the National Gallery of Art on the Mall.
Lincoln had escaped death in 1864, when he became the only US president to draw enemy fire by appearing on the parapet of Fort Stevens, on today's Georgia Avenue, as it came under Confederate attack. ("Get down, you fool!" shouted young Capt. Oliver Wendell Holmes, a future Supreme Court justice, to a tall figure he didn't recognize as his commander-in-chief.)
Two other presidents came under fire in Washington: Andrew Jackson on the Capitol steps (amazingly, the gun misfired two times); and Ronald Reagan, shot by John Hinckley as he emerged onto Florida Avenue from the Washington Hilton hotel.
Where they prayed. Virtually every president since James Madison has attended services at the pastel yellow St. John's Episcopal Church on Lafayette Park across from the White House. The National Presbyterian Church, when on Connecticut Avenue near N Street NW, was attended by five presidents beginning with Andrew Jackson and ending with Dwight Eisenhower. Lincoln prayed at one of the city's largest congregations, the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, while Herbert Hoover attended one of its smallest,
the Friends Meeting House on Florida Avenue NW.
Where they played. Most presidents since FDR have spent many weekends at Camp David, a rustic retreat a short helicopter ride north of the city in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains. Before then at least one chief executive took his mornings on horseback closer by. Teddy Roosevelt loved to canter along Rock Creek, which runs into the Potomac near the infamous Watergate complex. President Warren Harding took his recreation at another infamous spot, the "little green house" at 1625 K Street NW. Part brothel, pa rt speakeasy, Harding and his "Ohio Gang" found respite here from the strict regimine of the prohibition era.