1818 -- Six two-story houses on the property were first used as a hotel. 1842 -- Charles Dickens stayed at the hotel, then called the City Hotel. 1850 -- The Willard brothers, Henry A. and Edwin D., bought the hotel and renamed it Willard's City Hotel; Opera singer Jenny Lind, known as the "Swedish Nightingale," stayed and sang at the hotel. 1853 -- Franklin Pierce was the first president to stay at the Willard while waiting for President Millard Fillmore to leave the White House. Other presidents who stayed at the Willard are: Taylor, Fillmore, Buchanan, Lincoln, Taft, Theodore Roosevelt, Wilson, Coolidge and Harding. 1859 -- The Lord Napier Ball was given at the Willard for 1,800 guests in honor of the departing British ambassador. 1860 -- A Japanese delegation that included three ambassadors, two princes, 12 nobles and 60 servants stayed at the Willard for several weeks to sign the first trade agreement between the United States and Japan. 1861 -- The delegates to the Peace Convention, a last-ditch effort to avert a civil war, met at the Willard; President Lincoln stayed at the hotel on the eve of his inauguration and borrowed a pair of slippers from Henry Willard; Julia Ward Howe wrote the words to "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." 1873 -- Henry M. Stanley, recently back from Africa, stayed at the Willard while promoting his book, "How I Found Livingstone." 1901 -- The "new" Willard, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, architect of New York's Waldorf Astoria and Plaza Hotels, was built. 1906 -- Mark Twain, Victor Herbert, Buffalo Bill and John Philip Sousa all stayed at the Willard. 1923 -- President Coolidge stayed at the Willard while waiting for the newly widowed Mrs. Harding to leave the White House. 1968 -- The Willard closed its doors.