(This article is adapted from a response written to a media inquiry)
Within range of microphones last week, President Obama let it slip out that it was likely he and the First Lady would remain as residents of Washington, D.C. once his Administration ends in January of 2017. He suggested that they were likely to do so in order to permit their youngest daughter Sasha to complete her high school education at the same school, rather than remove her from familiar surroundings and friends to be transferred to a school in their home city of Chicago.
It would not be the first time since a former President and First Lady have chosen to remain in the capital city right after moving out of the White House, but it would be only the second time.
The only other instance of this occurring was nearly a century ago when, upon turning the presidency over to Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson and First Lady Edith Wilson went directly to the private home they had only recently purchased on S Street.
The former president only lived there for three more years, dying in February of 1924.
Edith Wilson, however, would live on there by herself for almost four more decades.
She received European royalty and presidential families there, maintaining the public rooms as a shrine to her beloved husband. Mrs. Wilson was often at the White House under both Democratic and Republican administrations.
She died in her home in December of 1961, but not before entertaining Jackie Kennedy there for lunch several months earlier.
For almost three years, however, there were two former Presidents and two former First Ladies living in Washington, D.C. at the same time. Just months after Woodrow Wilson and Edith Wilson retired from the presidency and moved to S Street, his immediate predecessor William Howard Taft and Nellie Taft relocated to Washington to live in aWyoming Avenue home within walking distance of him.
That summer of 1921, incumbent President Warren Harding appointed Taft to the one position he had always coveted, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.
Soon he and Nellie Taft were frequently back at the White House joining the Hardings and then the Coolidges.
After Taft’s death in 1930, Nellie Taft continued to live on at Wyoming Avenue.
Although she was respected as the widow of both a president and chief justice at numerous events and ceremonies with successors such as Lou Hoover and Eleanor Roosevelt,
Mrs. Taft lived a busy life in Washington largely outside of public notice. She rode streetcars to take in lectures, theater, films and concerts up until her death at home in the capital in 1944.
She and her husband became the fist of only two couples to be buried across the Potomac in Arlington National Cemetery.
The other President and First Lady who went right from the White House to a private home in Washington were John Quincy and Louisa Adams.
In March of 1829, they proceeded to a rented home on Meridian Hill but after their long summer and early autumn back in New England, the former president returned to the capital intending to have a purpose for being there.
In 1830 he ran and won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and began this new phase of his career in the following year.
Louisa Adams had been disgusted with politics and had even threatened to not live permanently in Washington because of the stress she believed his new position would create in their household.
By then, the former President and First Lady were living in a townhouse on the east street that faced Lafayette Square, directly across from the White House. A bit more history was made in 1838 when their new neighbor moved into the house right next store.
It was another legendary White House resident, Dolley Madison.
Following the 1836 death of her husband, the former First Lady settled into the townhouse on the northeast corner of Lafayette Square. “She is a woman of placid, equable temperament,” wrote former President Adams.
From this house, Mrs. Madison would hold court, especially on New Year’s Day when not only whoever was the incumbent President and First Lady, but members of the diplomatic corps, Cabinet, Supreme Court, House and Senate would pay a customary call on her.
In a sense, Dolley Madison became “Queen Mother” of the nation, a role she could not have fulfilled from anywhere but the capital city.
It was a common sight in the city to see the two former First Ladies function as a social duo, great friends attending card parties and congressional speeches together.
Dolley Madison was able to comfort Louisa Adams when John Quincy Adams died in February of 1848, but she followed him seventeen months later. Louisa Adams continued to live in Washington until her death four years later.