A Golden Era

by Editorial

The saga of the Walsh-McLean house is one the greatest rags-to-riches stories from Washington’s Gilded Age.

By Donna Evers


The Walsh-McLean residence housed the Federal Writers Project during the New Deal, was used by the Red Cross during World War II, and became the Indonesian Embassy in 1951. The 60-room mansion was designed in the Beaux Arts style and completed in 1902. Photograph, Deedy Ogden.

Thomas Walsh emigrated to the United States from in Ireland in 1869 at the age of 19 with empty pockets and a drive to succeed. He went out west to seek his fortune, and he found it. He struck gold in, of all places, a silver mine in Colorado in the late 1880’s. At its peak, the mine was producing $5,000 dollars worth of gold daily. In 1903, he sold it for $5 million, plus a percentage of its phenomenal annual output, and moved to Dupont circle.

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