Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Visit to DC's Governor's Palace


While refreshing myself on the facts of the 2008 economic recession (as you do from time to time), I ran across a picture of the Washington, D.C. headquarters for Fannie Mae. It reminded me a lot of another building in another town I used to work in. Of course, I had to go for a visit.


Meet the Governor's Palace 2.0. Designed by Leon Chatelain, Jr. in 1956 for the Equitable Life Insurance Co, Fannie Mae bought the building in 1979. They are now in the process of selling it, and plan to move into new offices late 2017/2018.

Let's take a look around!

The front entrance is directly based off the Governor's Palace. Side wings in the colonial style extend from this central section. The front doors seem based off the doors on Williamsburg's Capitol building. This building grabs architectural elements from both older buildings.

DCs Palace


Williamsburg's Palace


The ends of the building's front feature cupolas based off the Capitol (albeit shorter).

One of DC's Palace side cupola


Cupola on the Capitol in Williamsburg

On each side, there is a decorative door/fire exit. The south side features a door frame based off the Capitol's.

DC's Palace South Door

Williamsburg's Capitol Door

The north side's door frame is based off the back door of the Governor's Palace, with a decorative railing based off the front of the Palace.

DC's Palace North Door


Williamsburg's Palace back entrance


The building's not where the resemblance stops. Look at the surrounding area: The brick wall around the property...

Start of brick wall


The decorative urns...


The lamp posts...


Even the cobblestone drive-up!



According to Bing and Google Earth, DC's Palace also has two courtyards, one which appears to have a colonial-style garden.


Of course, not everything has been cloned. Instead of a canal, gardens, and a maze in the back, there is a parking deck. The Palace Green is cut short by the buildings across the street.

View of DC's "Palace Green" from the front steps
I didn't go inside, but peering through the front doors, the interior is a modern office reception area.

The DC Palace has a back addition. This section of the building echoes the original design, but with less gusto. The windows have old style shutters, but are one giant piece of glass. There is a flat brick arch over every window, but it is not angled. The hip-roof on continues on most sections, but without dormers.

Section of the DC Palace's back addition

The Governor's Palace is one of Colonial Williamsburg's icons. Being a square building, it is probably the easiest of CW's recognizable structures to replicate. Which is probably why the design has been adapted for Wisconsin Avenue. And the Heritage Building in Clayton, Missouri. And even a private residence blocks away from the Historic Area in Williamsburg, Virginia! It just goes to show how much of an impact one place can have on the world.

Williamsburg, VA's Hennage House

I am sure there are more Williamsburg doppelgangers than the ones listed above. Let me know if you've found any in the comments below!




Sources Used:
Fannie Mae Moves To Colonial-Style Site
Fannie Mae Is Selling Its Gigantic Wisconsin Avenue Headquarters
Fannie Mae puts headquarters up for sale, could fetch more than $200 million
Photo from Clayton, MO by Byran Austin, November 5, 2014 on Facebook

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