Pen Arts Building

Interested in staying in our remarkable historic headquarters while visiting Washington, D.C.? Click here to see our brochure on our available guest rooms and donation rates.

Pen Arts bldg_as on webpageThe 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.

The Gold Room at historic Pen Arts Building

The Gold Room








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.


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The Vinnie Ream Room

Abraham Lincoln sculpture by Vinnie Ream.

Abraham Lincoln sculpture, 1871 by Vinnie Ream.

The Vinnie Ream Room houses sculpture and memorabalia of the renowned sculptor, Vinnie Ream. Her sculpture of Abraham Lincoln stands in the U.S. Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C.

Vinnie Ream was a Civil War era sculptress who was awarded the commission for the full-size Carrara marble statue of Lincoln by a vote of Congress on July 28, 1866, when she was 18 years old. (Source: Vinnie Ream. Press of Gibson bros. 1908.) The work and history of Vinnie Ream continues to inspire women through the NLAPW Vinnie Ream Award competitions in letters, art and music.

The Pen Arts Library

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.

Pen Arts Exhibit; child

The Pen Arts Building also serves as a center for Arts education programs, readings, concerts and exhibits in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. 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.