Russian Embassy

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2650 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007

In Advise and Consent:

“Shortly after eleven o’clock in his closely guarded Embassy on Sixteenth Street opposite the National Geographic, Vasily Tashikov framed a cable to Moscow on the Leffingwell nomination and sent it forward to the coding room for transmission. It was a shrewd if somewhat incomplete appraisal of the appointment, an assessment of its world and domestic political implications, and a suggestion for certain actions to be taken in the event of favorable action by the Senate. After it left his desk the Ambassador called home and reminded his wife that they were to attend the party at Mrs. Harrison’s that night. ”  Page i139

In Real Life:

In Advise and Consent, Vasily Tashikov, the Russian Ambassador – fired off a cable to Moscow.  And he did it from the “guarded Embassy on Sixteenth Street.”  It seemed a little weird to me because I thought most of the embassies were on Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue. And I remembered the wild spy story involving a tunnel the FBI supposedly built to the Russian Embassy – out on Embassy Row. It turns out all the did happen – but just years later.  The Russians made a deal with the U.S. about that embassy fourteen years after the book was written. And then – they didn’t even move in until 1991. And it was a decade later that the world learned about the tunnel. I drove out to see the big one anyway. I love a good spy story.  The Embassy is far off from the street – on a hill and slightly foreboding.

Now, as for the Russian Ambassador’s residence – the one Drury did write about –  well, that is still on Sixteenth Street. The mansion is known as the Mrs. Pullman mansion. She built it because she thought her son-in-law – Frank Lowden, a member of the House of Representatives – would become an important figure in Washington D.C., possibly the President.  So, she bought a piece of land on Sixteenth Street a few blocks from the White House. She built the mansion – but he became ill and his political dreams never came true.  She never lived there and sold the mansion a few years after it was completed.  The buyers sold it to the Russians in 1917 – and it became the Russian Embassy.  In 1994, the Russians moved the embassy to Embassy Row and the Sixteenth Street location became Russian Ambassador’s residence. That – of course – is the one Drury wrote about.

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