122 Maryland’s land was originally granted to Daniel Carroll of Duddington in the partition of Washington City in the 1790s. Mountjoy Bayly, the Senate’s sergeant-at-arms and doorkeeper, built the house sometime between 1817 and 1822. A few years later the property was sold it to a lawyer named William McCormick in 1828 to be held in trust for a woman named Alethia Van Horne.
The house was then reportedly occupied by John Clement Fitzpatrick in the 1840s and dubbed “The Parkington.” Mr. Fitzpatrick was as influential as he was social, and was once described by Charles Dickens as “the handsomest man in Washington.” He moved into the house after giving up his former residence at New Jersey Ave. and B Street to the grounds of the Capitol. The National Register of Historic Places tells us there is no documented evidence of his ownership, but the story is credible enough for us. It seems possible that Fitzgerald was a friend of Ms. Van Horne’s and could have stayed for an extended period of time without actually owning the property.
After Fitzpatrick, the property had several owners. In 1850 Samuel J. Anderson, a clerk in the War Office, owned the house. At the turn of the century, two families were raised in the home – first, from 1873-1893 it was owned by Michael H. Homiller, a butcher at the Central Market, and then a real estate dealer named Frank J. Dieudonne. After that, Rufus L.B. Clarke, a judge who served on the bench of the Appellate Court for the District of Columbia lived here for 20 years. During the First World War and the Roaring 20s 122 Maryland was “rented to various people” including the Dunkard Sect of the Church of the Brethren.
From 1930-1947 the house was the home of its most historically prominent owner, Senator Hiram Johnson of California. After serving as that state’s governor, Johnson moved to Washington to serve in the Senate (1917–1945.) He was one of the leading Progressives in the early 20th century and had been Theodore Roosevelt’s running mate on the Bull Moose ticket in 1912. He and his wife were responsible for much of the architectural restoration that can still be seen today in the reception area and the conference room.
In 1974 Stewart R. Mott bought the house from its last owner, the General Commission on Chaplains and Armed Forces Personnel. The Commission was the military chaplains’ headquarters and memorial during World War II as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Stewart Mott originally bought 122 to house the various activities and projects of the Fund for Peace. Over the years, the building has been the first offices of the Center for Defense Information, In The Public Interest, the Center for International Policy and the Center for National Security Studies. The house was the birthplace of the Women’s Campaign Fund and Friends of Family Planning PACs. Other tenants of note include the Campaign Against Nuclear War, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Pax Americas and the Military Families Support Network. The most recent tenant was the national DC office of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Given Stewart Mott’s philanthropic interests, it is not surprising that most of the regular occupants of 122 Maryland Avenue are progressive in nature. This may have contributed to the Home’s reputation as “a citadel for hatching far -left plots” but in fact, it is a meeting place where do-gooders of all stripes of political and ideological opinion are regularly heard. Stewart Mott liked to think of the Home as “a beehive of unconventional activity, skewed in favor of truth and justice, but tolerant of and interested in all points of view.”
Currently, the first floor of 122 is home to the Stewart R. Mott Foundation and the Fund for Constitutional Government. The building is owned by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Use of the conference room and garden has been donated to nonprofit organizations for meetings, events and ceremonies since 1974.