Historic Willard Hotel in Washington DC offers Year of Civil War Programming

The lobby of the Willard Hotel, where President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the term “Lobbyist." The Historic Hotels of America member hotel was also where Abraham Lincoln stayed before his inauguration and figured prominently during the Civil War. Close to the White House and the Smithsonian Institution museums, the Willard is hosting a year-long Civil War Sesquicentennial series of lectures and programs © 2011 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

As America marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War in 2011, the Willard InterContinental, a member of Historic Hotels of America, is highlighting its significant history of the period with Willard Hotel and the Civil War, featuring special lectures and events, as well as a special lodging package.

 This yearlong event in conjunction with Destination DC’s regional Civil War to Civil Rights commemoration highlights various aspects of the Willard’s history during this period through exhibitions, lectures, tours, concerts, discussion panels and related events. The Willard’s programming includes partnerships with such cultural and historic entities as Lincoln at the Crossroads Alliance, The International Spy Museum, Ford’s Theater, the Civil War Preservation Trust and The Washington National Opera.  Events will include presentations by actors Stephen Lange (Avatar) and Sam Waterston (Law & Order.) Further underscoring the anniversary, the Willard is offering a history-related package.

Among the upcoming events this summer:

Civil War Spies: A Three-Part Exploration of Union and Confederate Intelligence Operations, June-July, offered In collaboration with Ford’s Theatre, National Historic Site, National Park Service; The Willard InterContinental Hotel and the International Spy Museum.

The North and the South both had their share of intelligence successes (and failures), but neither the Blue nor the Gray were strangers to intrigue and espionage.  Society ladies carried secret messages, runaway slaves re-crossed the Mason-Dixon Line as undercover agents, and couriers worked covert operations in the life or death climate of wartime.  In this series, a distinguished group of historians and espionage experts will introduce you to some of the most amazing spies and spy cases of the War Between the States.

Spy Rings, Covert Action, and Deception: Spies and their Tactics (Tuesday, June 21 at the International Spy Museum): Civil War intelligence operations ranged from the dazzling to the preposterous. How close did Southern covert action come to rendering New York City a Confederate holding?  How did music lend deception to the battlefield?  Join International Spy Museum historian Mark Stout,  James A Davis, Prof. of Musicology at State University of New York, College at Fredonia, (invited), and other experts impart the value of intelligence and deceptive measures during the Civil War.  Explore the key role that intelligence played in the North’s victory at Gettysburg, Pinkerton’s intelligence network and counterintelligence operations for the Union, and the “spy” gadgets available to the Civil War era James Bond.

The Lincoln Assassination Conspiracies (Tuesday, July 19 at Ford’s Theatre): Why did a handsome, successful actor murder President Lincoln? Examine the Lincoln assassination anew—at the scene of the crime—during this eye-opening adventure.  On one fact alone do scholars agree: President Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre on April 14th, 1865.  All else is suspect!  This program is presented in the very theatre where the tragedy occurred.  Learn the true facts of the event and also the key conspiracy schools of thought.  Was Booth acting as a lone gunman?  A player in an internal Union scheme?  A tool of the Confederacy?  A cog in an insidious global plot?  The evening will include a surprise appearance by “Booth.”

Civil War Sisterhood of Spies (Tuesday, July 26 at The Willard InterContinental) Discover the secret work of key Civil War operatives of the fair sex.  Meet three of the most successful female Civil War spies: Wild Rose Greenhow, a charming high society widow who sweet-talked top-flight Union officials and lowly Union clerks alike, encoded their intelligence, and smuggled messages south—with the help of her own spy ring!  Antonia Ford, a confederate spy who married one of the Willard Hotel’s 19th century proprietors and Virginia-based Civil War Union spy Elizabeth Van Lew.  Ann Blackman (invited) author of Wild Rose will cover Greenhow, Amanda Ohlke, director of adult education at the International Spy Museum will trace Van Lew’s espionage career, and historical impersonator Emily Lapisardi (invited)  will portray Confederate spy Antonia Ford.

The programs are at 7 p.m.; series tickets are $60; Individual Tickets are $25. Tickets can be purchased at www.spymuseum.org or by calling 202.654.0932 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202.654.0932      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

Another program this summer, 1861: The Civil War’s First Year in 3D, is a free exhibit presented by the Civil War Preservation Trust, on view June 24 to July 15 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Willard InterContinental. In 1861, America was torn apart and thrust into civil war.  States seceded from the Union, armies were raised, battles were fought, leaders emerged and the nation began an inextricable series of changes. This upheaval was not only captured by the lenses of a growing army of photographers, but was recorded using 3D, stereoscopic cameras.  This exhibition will present more than three dozen Civil War-era photographs in the manner in which they were meant to be seen – in 3D.  From secession to civil war, from Abraham Lincoln to Jefferson Davis, and from Fort Sumter to Bull Run, see the Civil War in depth and how the art of photojournalism was born!  Developed in association with the Center for Civil War Photography and HISTORY (formerly called the History Channel), the exhibition will include a multimedia documentary-style program focusing upon the Civil War’s first, but bloodless battle, Fort Sumter.

The Willard was a center for political and social life in Washington DC throughout the Civil War.  Located close to the White House, the six-story building upon which the New Willard Hotel was later built in 1901, was at the crossroads of society and politics. According to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willard’s was “much more justly called the center of Washington and the Union than the Capitol, the White House or the State Department.”

In addition to the calendar of special events marking the occasion, the hotel will offer a Willard Hotel and the Civil War package available throughout the year. The Willard is also issuing a new edition of its complimentary Willard history brochure for guests.  The brochure, designed by Jeanne Krohn of Krohn Design, and written by Cindy Gueli, PhD, who together created the Willard’s comprehensive history gallery, will be a compilation of historic anecdotes and evocative imagery.   “We hope the new Willard history brochure will provide guests with an enhanced sense of place,” said Jim Veil, General Manager of the Willard InterContinental and Regional Director of Operations for Baltimore and Washington, D.C., “the Willard InterContinental is so much more than an architectural gem, it is a true microcosm of American history centered as a vital establishment through some of our nation’s most dramatic chapters,” Veil continued.   A new series of Willard and the Civil War “history bytes” compiled by Professor Gueli will be included in the hotel’s guest and media communications throughout the year.

The Willard InterContinental is located in the heart of the nation’s capital on Pennsylvania Avenue near the White House, the Smithsonian museums and the downtown business and theatre districts.   The Willard epitomizes world-class hospitality as the hotel of choice for heads of state and leaders of the world’s business, cultural, social and political elite.  The hotel’s 335 well appointed guestrooms include 41 elegant suites.  Dining options include Café du Parc, the popular French bistro with seasonal outdoor seating, the Occidental Grill & Seafood, traditional Afternoon Tea in Peacock Alley and the classic Round Robin Bar.  The luxurious Red Door Spa offers a wide array of pampering treatments.

An American institution, the Willard has hosted nearly every U.S. president since 1853. Abraham Lincoln stayed at the Willard before his inauguration in 1861.   It was at the Willard that Julia Ward Howe wrote The Battle Hymn of the Republic, where President Ulysses S. Grant popularized the term “Lobbyist,” and where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King finished his renowned “I Have a Dream” speech.  The Willard is also noted for its 100% wind power, recycling and charitable initiatives including Anacostia River clean-up, the hotel’s “Adoption” of a Pershing Park, and support of a school prom for disabled youth.   The classic Willard InterContinental combines heritage and luxury with contemporary comfort and the latest technology.

 The Willard Hotel and the Civil War package for two includes a weekend night in a Deluxe King Room, Breakfast in Café du Parc, Valet Parking and Tickets to the Lincoln Cottage.  Price starts at $369 per room per night and is offered Thursdays to Sundays through May 31, 2011. Package must be booked at least seven days prior to arrival. Based on availability.   Bookings can made by calling 202-628-9100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-628-9100      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or by visiting www.washington.intercontinental.com.

Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20008, 202-628-9100 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            202-628-9100      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, 800-827-1747 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            800-827-1747      end_of_the_skype_highlighting, or Web site:  www.washington.intercontinental.com.  Twitter: www.twitter.com/willardhotel ; Facebook:  www.Facebook.com/willardhotel.

See more travel features about Historic Hotels and Civil War:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

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