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November/December 2013

President General Sarah E. Guernsey told the 27th Continental Congress in 1918 that the National Society had outgrown Memorial Continental Hall.  She stated, “While we owned considerable land in the block in which our building Memorial Continental Hall is situated, there was sufficient land not owned by us to make it possible that a building not in keeping with the surroundings, might be erected—also we hope to build for ourselves a practical office building, since our work has grown to such proportions that our beautiful Memorial building is becoming inadequate for the office force, and the handsomely furnished rooms are too valuable to be used for routine work. What we need to supplement our House Beautiful is a House Practical and Continental Hall.”

After consulting with the Advisory Committee the decision was made to purchase “all the land fronting on D Street (which is on the north side of the building) that was not already owned by us.” The Society was able to purchase five lots consisting of 23,362 square feet at a price of $45,563.15. Although this was a higher price than the Society had paid for land that had previously been purchased it was considered to be reasonable, “especially since there is a constant increase in value of the real estate in this section of the city, owing to the erection of a number of Government buildings.” The purchase of the land was made possible by an unsecured mortgage with the National Metropolitan Bank because “the good standing of the Society” was considered sufficient security for the mortgage.

At the same time, J.E. Caldwell was holding Memorial Continental Hall Liquidation and Endowment Fund Certificates worth $7,555.61. J.E. Caldwell decided to present the Society with these certificates “trusting the business relations which have been so pleasant in the past shall continue in the future.”  J.E. Caldwell remained the jeweler to the National Society until it was purchased by Hamilton Jewelers in 2009.

Plans for the building were approved by the 29th Continental Congress in 1920, and on February 5, 1923, the offices of the Society were moved into the Administration Building.