The development of Dupont Circle was spearheaded by the leadership of Alexander Sheperd at the Board of Public Works. Nevada Senator William Morris Stewart led the “California Syndicate,” which bought up tracts of undeveloped land. The style of the neighborhood was established when Stewart erected his (now demolished) mansion in the 1870s. Just ten years later, the Dupont neighborhood was an affluent and vibrant neighborhood. The Corps of Engineers began construction of the circle in 1871, but at the time it was called Pacific Circle. In 1882, Congress authorized a memorial statue of Rear Admiral Samuel Francis duPont in recognition of his Civil War service. The bronze statue was erected in 1884. In 1921, the statue of Dupont was replaced by a double-tiered white marble fountain. It was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon. Three classical figures, symbolizing the Sea, the Stars and the Wind are carved on the fountain’s central shaft.
Today, many of the great mansions found on the avenues serve as embassies, clubs, cultural institutions, and museums. They include the Phillips Collection, the first museum of modern art in the country, and the Heurich mansion, built by beer baron Christian Heurich, which houses the Historical Society of Washington, DC and its exhibitions. More modest row houses along the area’s side streets, many of them still residential, give the neighborhood a pleasing sight and make Dupont Circle a delightful place to visit.