A Brief History of Dupont Circle

A designated historic district, Dupont Circle today is a destination neighborhood for some of D.C.’s best shopping, eating and exploring. How did  From the beginning of its history, the neighborhood has been a destination for those interested in style and prominence, which helped set a foundation for the culturally enriched place it is today.

How People Came To Live There

Dupont Circle was originally called Pacific Circle, and it remained largely undeveloped until after the Civil War. Alexander “Boss” Shepherd, head of the DC Board of Public Works and one of the country’s most influential urban developers, oversaw the area’s transformation from a collection of slaughterhouses near a creek into one of the most prestigious addresses in the city. Mansions sprung up, including one belonging to Nevada Senator William Morris Stewart, whose Victorian mansion inspired an influx of affluent buyers in the 1880’s.

How Dupont Got In The Mix

In 1882, Congress approved a plan to erect a statue of Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Dupont in the middle of the neighborhood, honoring the late Admiral’s Civil War service, as he was a key figure in the Union Army. They soon erected a bronze statue of the man, which stood there until 1921.

Members of the prominent Dupont family didn’t think the initial statue was significant a memorial enough for their storied relative, and secured its replacement with a monumental marble fountain. This fountain, which still stands there today, was designed by famous architect Henry Bacon and sculptor Daniel Chester French.

Cultural Development

In the years since, the upscale, residential vibe of Dupont Circle has remained, making it an ideal place for some of the city’s smaller, more refined cultural spots to pop up. Historical art galleries, restaurants from around the world, and international diplomats as residents all combine to give Dupont Circle its unique, delightful flavor.

To learn more about how to enjoy Dupont Circle, check out our Neighborhood Guide.

Places to Stay

Within walking distance of the statue, and the historic, centuries-old homes that define Dupont Circle, The St. Gregory Hotel is an ideal place to stay and explore this unique DC neighborhood. Check out our rooms page for insights into the nicest, most well-situated hotel rooms in Dupont Circle.