David Edward Finley, Jr. (1890-1977), first director of the National Gallery of Art, was born in this house. Finley moved to Washington, D.C. as a child when his father was elected to Congress and was educated at the University of S.C. and George Washington University Law School. He practiced law, served in World War I, then worked for Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon.
Finley and Andrew W. Mellon worked for years to establish a national art gallery with Mellon's collection as its nucleus, but Mellon died in 1937 just as the project began.Finley directed the construction of the National Gallery and was its director 1938-1956, building it into "a treasure trove of art." He was also chairman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation 1950-1962.