Preserving the historic police and fire callboxes of McLean Gardens

Friendship Estate

Friendship was the country estate for two generations of the McLean family. The English style manor house “Eden Bower” was built around 1800 by British Col. Richard Pyle. Pyle was succeeded by Georgetown University, which used the property as a retreat, popularly known as “College Villa.”

In 1898 Washington Post publisher John R. McLean and his wife Emily purchased the house and subsequently made many improvements. In 1916 the now-grand estate was transferred to their son Edward (Ned) McLean and his wife Evalyn Walsh McLean — who lived there until 1941. Ned and Evalyn were the owners of the Hope Diamond, long the Smithsonian Institution’s most popular exhibit.

Friendship provided its owners with every luxury imaginable, and some that were surprising. Ned and Evalyn’s children enjoyed a menagerie of domestic and exotic animals, including a white llama purchased from the Ringling Bros. Circus that roamed freely around the extensive grounds.

The estate included a golf course built by Ned McLean. Presidents Harding and Coolidge played golf there, while Mrs. Coolidge enjoyed knitting on the front porch. Among Evalyn’s friends was Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of President Theodore Roosevelt. Alice was a leading social figure as well as an irreverent companion. She is still remembered for saying, “If you can’t say something good about someone, sit right here by me.”

Friendship was razed in 1942 for war housing, and Evalyn moved to 3308 R Street, NW, in Georgetown. The original “Friendship” sign went with her, and is still visible on the house on R Street.


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