The hotel welcomed famous guests outside the political zone, including Frederick Douglass, John Mercer Langston and Thomas Edison. Wormley was also the private confidant and nurse of some of the most famous personalities of the 19th century. He dealt with Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Vice President Henry Wilson and Presidents Abraham Lincoln and James Garfield. Wormley`s parents were Lynch and Mary Wormley, both born free. After Wormley`s death in 1884, his eldest son James T. Wormley ran the hotel until 1893, when he sold it. It was taken over by new owners and was renamed Colonial in 1897. The hotel was later demolished and the Union Trust Company building was built on the site in 1906. Wormley, his hotel and benefactors may have long fallen into the dust, but many of the same themes that overshadowed the 1876 choice resonate in the present. All the more reason to remember James Wormley and what happened at his hotel. In the early 1850s, Wormley was appointed steward of the Washington Club, located in the Rodgers villa of Madison Place overlooking the square.
As administrator of the eminent Washington, D.C club of his time, Wormley maintained his relationships with the most powerful people in the city. Among the members of the club were locals around and near the square such as William Corcoran, Jefferson Davis, George Riggs and almost all of the country`s military and public leadership. During his work as a director of the club, he also developed his own restaurant and hotel store in his 15th Street, N.W. homes. When the club closed in 1859, members held meetings at Wormley`s restaurant on I Street to discuss the dissolution of the dissolved organization`s affairs. Carol Gelderman, A Free Man of Color And His Hotel; Race, Reconstruction and the Role of the Federal Government, (Washington, D.C., Potomac Books, 2012); John DeFerrari, ”The Talented Mr James Wormley,” Streetsofwashington.com, www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/09/the-talented-mr-james-wormley.html. WORMLEY LECTURE. The Wormley Conference was the name of the lecture series that settled the controversy surrounding the controversial election of 1876. The name was born out of the fact that the closing conference was held on February 26, 1877 at Wormley`s Hotel in Washington, D.C. In accordance with the terms of the agreement, The Democrats authorized the counting of votes that would make Rutherford B. Hayes the President of the United States; In exchange, Republicans withdrew federal troops from southern states, thus accepting the downfall of reconstruction governments in those states.
Although tilden or Hayes did not attend the Wormley meetings, they were both mailed by telegram. A ”secret agreement,” later known as the Compromise of 1877, was reached on Monday, February 26, 1877, just days before the end of the grant administration. The agreement paved the way for the end of reconstruction because Hayes negotiators assured the Southern Democrats in writing that in exchange for the election`s consent, federal forces would be withdrawn in the three southern states and that those states would regain the right to ”control their own affairs.” Those interested in history are familiar with the contours of this election, but they may not be aware of the central role of a black entrepreneur and his elegant Washington hotel in the drama. In 1869, Wormley purchased another building at the southwest corner of 15th and H Streets, NW. In 1871, he expanded the structure and opened another hotel and social club.