The Washington City Orphan Asylum was founded in 1815 to care for the destitute children of Washington. It was originally located on H Street, NW, between 9th and 10th Streets in a building designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed in 1828.

Washington City Orphan AsylumWashington City Orphan Asylum interior

Click on an image to enlarge.

The images here show its second location on the southeast corner of 14th and S Streets, NW. This larger lot was donated in 1865 by William W. Corcoran. The Washington City Orphan Asylum authorized construction of the new building in the Italian villa style to plans by architect John C. Harkness. Use of the building for the Orphan Asylum was delayed by a decade when Secretary of State Seward expressed his need for space due to a shortage caused by the Civil War. As a result the building was leased to the State Department for its headquarters.

In 1927 the Washington City Orphan Asylum unofficially changed its name to Hillcrest Children’s Center and moved to a new location at Nebraska Avenue and 42nd Street, NW. Ultimately, the building at 14th and S Streets was razed in 1963.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest, primarily within the District. He’s worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He’s been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and served as the Commission’s Chair since 2013. He has a MS in Design from Arizona State University with strong interests in preservation, planning, and zoning. Kent is also the force behind the blog Park View, DC.