The Pen Arts building has been the headquarters of the National League of American Pen Women since 1951 when President Dorothy Betts Marvin arranged to buy a permanent home for the organization offices and a haven for Pen Women to gather when they came to Washington.
In 1887, William M. Poindexter, who had served briefly in the Confederate Army, designed the twenty room mansion for its first owner, Sarah Adams Whittemore, opera singer and descendant of President John Adams. The mansion’s most famous occupant was the eldest son of Abraham Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln.
By the close of Dr. Marvin’s second term as League president, the $65,000 mortgage was retired. For a modest donation, members have the privilege of staying at the building and the Pen Arts Building’s Drawing Room and downstairs facilities are available for rental for receptions, weddings, and other private social events. For a light-hearted virtual tour of the building on the NLAPW Youtube channel, click here.
Upkeep, repairs and building expenses are paid for through NLAPW’s endowment fund, not through membership dues. Donations are always welcome to help us preserve this unique part of women’s history for future generations. Click the PayPal button below to donate online securely with a major credit card:
The Pen Arts Building is home to a hidden treasure in our nation’s capitol–the Pen Arts Library. The one-room Library contains works by and about NLAPW members from throughout its 100 year history and is open to the public by appointment. Contact us for more information. The Pen Arts building houses irreplaceable archives materials, such as copies of every Pen Woman Magazine published since 1920 and many bound copies of minutes of both the National Executive Board and the Biennial business meetings, dating from the mid-20th century to more recent administrations.
The Pen Arts Building also serves as a center for Arts education programs, readings, concerts and exhibits in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. The Vinnie Ream Room houses sculpture and memorabalia of the renowned sculptor of the Lincoln statue and other monuments in Washington, D.C., making it a popular stop on the Vinnie Ream Walking Tour, a free self-guided art tour developed by the NLAPW. We are dedicated to sharing our historic space for the encouragement of arts opportunities for youth and the local community as well as for our members.