Blair House - Blair-Lee House
Built in 1824 for Dr. Joseph Lovell, first surgeon general of the United States, this National Historic Landmark serves as the official guest house of the president. It was the second private residence built near Lafayette Square.In 1836, both Dr. Lovell and his wife died. The house was purchased by Francis Preston Blair, a member of President Andrew Jackson's "kitchen cabinet" and co-publisher of the newspaper The Globe.In 1852 the Blairs constructed a house next door for their only daughter, Elizabeth Preston Blair, who had married Samuel Phillips Lee in 1843. The tow houses began to be used as one; this continues today.William Tecumseh Sherman was married at the house in 1850. Also in this house Robert E. Lee was offered command of the Union army, which he turned down in favor of the Confederate army.Francis Blair's grandson, Gist Blair, contributed major renovations to Blair-Lee House. When he died in 1940, he expressed in his will a desire that the house be preserved and used as a residence. The house became the president's official guest house in late 1942, during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.During the renovation of the White House from 1948 to 1952. President Harry S Truman and his family lived in Blair-Lee House. In 1951, President Truman survived an assassination attempt. One member of the president's Secret Service detail was killed and a memorial plaque on the fence acknowledges the agent's sacrifice.Many foreign heads of state stay at Blair-Lee House when visiting the President. The flag of the visiting dignitary's country flies from Blair-Lee House during a state visit.