The History of our Headquarters, Loughborough House

The historic Loughborough House is the headquarters of the Junior League of Washington. During its almost 200-year history, Loughborough House’s occupants have included a bank, law and insurance offices, dry goods, as well as shoe and department stores. It has also served as a private home for more than a dozen families. Although we cannot identify all of the many individuals who built, renovated, lived, and worked in or on the building since its construction, we acknowledge their lives and their contributions to our headquarters.

Nathan Loughborough, a prominent Virginian who served as Treasury Department Chief Clerk in the early 1800s, built the house. In 1801, he purchased the lot where Loughborough House stands for a mere $1,684 and built a fine three story brick house. Five years later, the second building was completed and they became known as “Nathan Loughborough’s Houses.” In 1813, Mr. Loughborough sold both buildings and they were not to be united under one owner until 1926, when Edlows Department Store purchased both properties.

In 1957, the Honorable and Mrs. Gordon Gray purchased the property, and in 1960 gave it to the Junior League of Washington. The League extensively remodeled the interiors and restored the facade to its original Federal design, following a photograph from the 1880s.

In 1998, JLW conducted another renovation to create a better space for its trainings and meetings. Updates included an overhaul of its electrical and HVAC systems, as well as structural strengthening. The interior was also remodeled in federal style to match the facade.

During the 2020-2021 Junior League of Washington year, the Loughborough House Committee created a subcommittee, The Working Group on the Memory and Recognition of the Enslaved People Who Lived and Labored in Nathan Loughborough’s Houses, to reexamine the JLW House History. Through a year-long data collection and reporting process, the Working Group uncovered new information regarding the property, the house, enslaved people, and the history of slavery in the City of Washington.

Junior League of Washington welcomes its members and invited guests to use and enjoy the Headquarters for League business and League-sponsored events.