Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mr. Lincoln's Washington: New Resources

Last year I had the pleasure of meeting John O'Brien after I wrote a post for my employer's blog on the historic Winder Building in downtown DC.  O'Brien, a local expert on President Abraham Lincoln, was researching sites in Washington related to Lincoln's presidency and the Civil War.  He contacted me after reading the post.  O'Brien and I chatted about my office building, which housed several key offices visited by Lincoln during the war, and I arranged a tour for him with the chief preservationist of the Executive Office of the President.  I was extremely pleased when O'Brien recently sent me the fruits of his extensive and meticulous research  -- a newly-published fold-out map entitled, Lincoln in Washington: 1861-1865.

(courtesy of Lincoln in Washington)

The map provides incredible insights into Washington at the time of the Civil War.  One side depicts wartime Lafayette Square, near the White House, and discusses twenty-three sites connected with Lincoln that were located on or near the square, including the Wilkes-Madison House, where Gen. George B. McClellan worked and resided in the late summer and fall of 1861.  O'Brien has also written special inserts on "Lincoln in Public," the headquarters building for the Defenses of Washington, and Secretary of State William Seward's house.  The  reverse side of Lincoln in Washington contains a period map of Washington marking forty-nine other sites associated with the 16th President.  O'Brien offers descriptions for each of these places of interest.  Some of the sites are well-known, like Ford's Theatre and Willard's Hotel.  Many others, such as Secretary of War Simon Cameron's house, are more obscure, and reflect O'Brien's thorough research on Civil War Washington.  And yes, the Winder Building is included.  Some of these places are still standing, while others have been demolished, and the map simply indicates the former location.

The map is a must-have for Lincoln buffs, as well as Civil War enthusiasts with an interest in Washington City at the time of the conflict.  O'Brien tells me that the map is for sale at Ford's Theatre and the Lincoln Memorial.  But never fear.  You can order a copy here.

I'd also like to welcome John to the blogosphere.  He has started a blog, Lincoln in Washington, where he provides readers with even more detail on the various sites related to the 16th President in the nation's capital.  Despite the summer humidity, I can't wait to start hitting the streets of downtown DC armed with information from O'Brien's map and blog!

2 comments:

john O'Brien said...

Hi Ron,
Thank you for your comments on my map. But I continue to be very jealous of you for having the privilege of being in one of our most historic office buildings every day. When you and George Kanellos of the White House preservation office, let me tour The Winder Building, it really got the ideas flowing my map project. The iron staircase inside the front door must surely be the one Lincoln would have climbed to call on the likes of Meigs, Wise, Ripley, and even Stanton when his office was there temporarily in early 1863. Your post of April 22, 2011, described the history of the building very well. I don't know if the old plaque has been restored to the front of the building. As you pointed-out, the role described for Winder may have been a bit of an over-reach, but there is no quarreling with the great significance of your office building. I still have to pull together my notes on Winder, but I'll be back to you soon with that. Thanks again, and good luck. John O'Brien

Ron Baumgarten said...

John,

Thanks for your comment. Yes, I really love working in Winder. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I ended up having an office in a place so intimately connected with the Civil War. But I didn’t plan it that way, honest! Sometimes when I walk down the hallways, I really feel the weight of the building’s history. I look forward to hearing about your additional research on Winder. The marker is not back yet, but given the inaccuracies, that may not be a bad thing. And it was my pleasure to comment on your map and blog!