"...[They] have to an unusual degree the spirit of [a] clan. Their family is a closed corporation."
Secretary John Hay recorded a White House conversation in which the President Abraham Lincoln, spoke of the Blair family: "...[They] have to an unusual degree the spirit of [a] clan. Their family is a closed corporation." The Blair family landholdings along 7th Street Pike, today's Georgia Avenue, were significant — around 1000 acres. The property eventually encompassed three family homes.
At the head was Francis Preston Blair, Sr., a journalist, newspaper editor, founding member of the Republican Party and presidential advisor.
Although Francis and his wife Eliza resided primarily in Washington D.C., Blair Sr. — according to local lore — was enamored with the abundance of natural resources in Montgomery County. It was a mica-flecked spring that drew him to build a country estate beyond the District line, and inspired its name "Silver Spring" It served as a summer retreat for the Blairs, and it included a ca. 1842 brick Gothic Revival style home, defined as "rather fine-appearing mansion" — quite the contrast to the small quarters reserved for slaves laboring on his farm. The property also included a picturesque garden that could be enjoyed from a gazebo in the shape of a giant acorn. Political dignitaries of the day visited the site including President Lincoln.
Here, Blair Sr. retired and lived out his days from 1854 until 1876. This house stood until 1954, when it was demolished.
Falkland, a three-story brick structure was constructed in 1854 by politician and attorney Montgomery Blair. It was considered to be "a much finer edifice than that of the elder Blair." Such a home was soon fitting for Blair who gained notoriety as attorney for freed slave Dred Scott in the 1856 Federal Supreme Court case that decided African Americans were not citizens of this country and had no legal standing. Because of Montgomery Blair's Union allegiance during the civil War, Falkland "was burnt by straggers" in the Confederate Army in July 1864. Blair lived at the Moorings while his house was rebuilt.
The Moorings, today known as the Jesup Blair House, is a two-story frame dwelling built for U.S. Naval Officer James Blair by his father and his wife Mary n 1850, had thirteen rooms and a bathroom. Due to James' untimely demise in 1853, he never was able to occupy the house. Mary and her children Violet, Jesup, and Lucy James (Jimmy) Blair, found comfort living there close to relatives.
Although Violet Blair Janin inherited the property form her mother, she resided in Washington where participation in club activities kept here in the elite social and diplomatic circles. Janin eventually renamed the house in honor of her younger brother, Jesup, who died in 1902. Violet and her husband Judge Albert Janin, also owned and operated Mammoth Cave, now a National Park.
When Violet Blair Janin bequeathed the house and surrounding land as a public park in perpetuity to the state of Maryland in 1933, the Moorings was no longer a residence, but had been converted into the Silver Spring library. When this park opened on September 123, 1934, it included 15 actres of fine oak trees, and the Colonial Revival mansion designed by Howard W. Cutler and built by laborer from the Civil Works Administration. Such was a fitting legacy for a town named in honor of a mica-flecked spring.
This 1824 structure was the Blair family's primary residence located in Washington, DC directly across from the White House. Since 1942, Blair House has served as the official state guest house for the President of the United States.
Please help us preserve the grove of ancient oak trees that surround the House by not walking on the tree's root system. This causes soil compaction, which can be fatal to the trees. Your compliance ensures that future generations can have the same experience Violet Blair Janin had here in these natural surroundings: "I think of the joyous e'enings, Under the old oak trees, With the moonlight shadows moving, When Stirred by the gentle breeze." Her thoughtful donation to the State of Maryland provided this property for you.