So far, the Chronicler has heard no indication that the Westin Fairfax Hotel plans to name a suite after Sarah Cary Fairfax, George Washington's first -- and some say last -- love.
However, area history buffs are rejoicing that the hotel, recently known as the Ritz-Carlton, on Oct. 14 regained the Fairfax name bestowed upon it when it first opened in the early 1920s.
Thomas, Lord Fairfax VI, in 1735 inherited 6 million acres in Virginia and what is now West Virginia, according to "Virginia, the New Dominion," by Virginius Dabney. The lord's agent in the Colonies was a cousin, Col. William Fairfax. His son George William succeeded him. Fairfax and George Washington were friends from their youth, when George stayed with his brother John Augustine Washington at nearby Mount Vernon and surveyed land for the Fairfaxes.
George William Fairfax and his wife, called Sally, lived at Belvoir, a magnificent mansion by the standards of the time. Washington learned ballroom dancing, social graces, genteel correspondence and ways to charm women from Sally Fairfax. But the Fairfaxes returned to England as the revolution began, leaving Washington in charge of the estate. Belvoir burned in 1783, after all the Fairfax furnishings were auctioned. In 1798, the year before he died, Washington wrote to Sally Fairfax recalling "those happy moments, the happiest of my life, which I have enjoyed in your company."
The hotel at 21st Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW that once more carries the historic name was the Fairfax Apartment Hotel when bought in 1932 by Grady Gore, father of 1974 Maryland gubernatorial candidate Louise Gore.
"It was called Washington's family hotel,' " Gore, cousin of the vice president, remembers. "That's because it had kitchens -- a novelty back when hotels didn't even have refrigerators filled with cheese and beverages as they do now."
While some found the family hotel an attraction, others found it a distraction. Gore said she once shared a ride from Union Station with a young man. When he heard she was going to the Fairfax, he complained about the noise, children playing baseball and strollers squeaking in the corridors and the playroom.
Al Gore's family stayed in the hotel's three-bedroom suite on the top floor, overlooking the entrance. His mother, Pauline, once figured they lived there almost 20 years while Albert Sr. represented Tennessee in the Senate and young Al was a student at St. Albans. George Bush and his mother and senator father also stayed in the Fairfax, as did Adm. Chester William Nimitz and his wife, Joan, Louise Gore said.
It also was a favorite with Foreign Service families. The hotel apartments were the only ones with kitchens that were within the State Department's usual stingy temporary-housing allowance.
Her father later enlarged the hotel, adding 50 rooms. After serving as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris, and patronizing that city's restaurants, Louise Gore herself was responsible for the addition of a bar-restaurant, which she named the Jockey Club. In London, Paris and Madrid, the name is famous.
The Jockey Club became the meeting place for Nancy Reagan's friends during Ronald Reagan's presidency -- even though it had long been a favorite of Democrat Pauline Gore's friends, who were known to frequent the restaurant and plot campaigns to elect her president.
Sad to say, Grady Gore's widow, Jamie, sold the Fairfax in 1977 to John B. Coleman. In 1982, he invited disaster by changing the name to the glitzy Ritz-Carlton. The Fairfax name had transferred ownership free, no charge. Ritz-Carlton -- used in other American hotels and abroad -- cost Coleman a license fee of 1.5 percent of his establishment's annual gross.
Saudi Sheik Abdul Aziz Bin Ibrahim bought the hotel in 1989 and sold it last January to Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which encompasses the Westin hotels. Nearly a year later, the hotel on Embassy Row finally has both its new name and its old one. CAPTION: The Westin Fairfax Hotel, formerly the Ritz-Carlton, again has the name that was bestowed upon it when it opened in the early 1920s. Left, Thomas, Lord Fairfax VI, who in 1735 inherited 6 million acres in Virginia and what is now West Virginia. ec