3100 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
In Advise and Consent:
“At Her Majesty’s Embassy out Massachusetts Avenue and at the French Embassy on Belmont Road, the nomination was also of some interest. Lord Maudulayne, pausing in a busy day to take a call from Kitty in New York, was advised that she had talked to Senator Fry, “and he sounds dreadfully amused about Bob Leffingwell.” Senator Wannamaker, though, she reported, did not, and it was likely there would be quite a fuss in the Senate about it, she gathered. She would be flying in with Celestine Barre at four thirty, and would he be good enough to call Raoul Barre at the French Embassy and tell him so? Page i139
In Advise and Consent, Allen Drury created a cabal of ambassadors who give us a glimpse of how the international community was looking at the whole Secretary of State nomination process. The fictional Lord Maudulayne, the British Ambassador and the leader of that pack lived at the British Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue. And that’s exactly where I found it. In fact, the British Embassy was one of the first to throw up an Embassy on what was known as Millionaire’s Row. The British built the ambassador’s residence in 1928. It was designed to look like a British manor house – and a chancery. But by the 1950’s the chancery seemed to be bursting at the seams so the embassy began the construction of a new one. When Drury wrote Advise and Consent the construction of a new bigger chancery was underway. And the neighborhood had changed since the British opened the embassy. When the Great Depression hit – the wealthy on Millionaires Row offloaded their big houses. The upkeep of the mansions was so great only entire countries or big organizations could afford them. So the row got the new name – Embassy Row. Now embassies dot the street.
I parked my car on Massachusetts Avenue and walked up the row enjoying and taking pictures of the embassies along the way. It was a weekday morning and Washingtonians were rushing to work – zipping by me. I identified the British Embassy by the flag embedded in the front lawn – and crossed the street. When I got to the other side – police officers were suddenly everywhere. I thought someone had sent out an alert that a tall woman was taking pictures of embassies. I thought they might be after me. Almost as a confirmation of my fear one of the officers motioned for me to step away from the street. Then, I saw what was really happening. Some quick moving black Suburbans zipped past. It was just a motorcade – but it was thrilling. When I finally awakened from my transfixion on the whole endeavor of moving important people around Washington D.C. and realized it wasn’t me they were after -I turned my attention back to the embassy. I walked up to the guard gate. I don’t know what I was expecting – maybe I thought I could get in or something. The guard asked if I had an appointment. I said – No, but – could he tell me if there were any tours today? He said – No tours. I wanted to ask if Lord Maudulayne was in but thought better of it. He didn’t seem like he would have read the book – or even care about an explanation about it. I walked away wishing I had planned a little better. I turned around and snapped off some pictures – just to show him I hadn’t given up.
So – I didn’t get in but if you want to see the British Embassy, I learned the embassies open their doors – one day in May and give tours. That would be a good way to see the inside of a few of them. Or you can sign up for a walking tour. Or you can do what I did and see the inside of the embassy on this mildly bizarre video.