The History of Grant's Row
Grants Row The property on which the Folger Shakespeare Library sits, was once a row of grand houses known as Grant's Row, after the architect and builder who created them.
In 1790, when the District of Columbia was formed, Square 760 was owned by Daniel Carroll of Duddington, the city's largest landholder. In the division of lots between the government and the proprietors, the government received all of Square 760 which remained vacant until after the Civil War when it was sold to Captain Albert Grant, who built 30 town houses on the property. The buildings were the grandest on the Hill when they were built in 1871.
The buildings on Square 760 were impressive, built in an ornate Italianate style. Grant built 14 buildings along East Capitol Street, stretching from Second to Third Streets, and 16 along A Street, SE. Unfortunately, the high price that Grant demanded for the buildings kept them from selling. The British ambassador was briefly interested in the middle - and largest - buildings to house the embassy, but Grant was asking $75,000 for them. The British decided to buy in the western city, setting off a building boom in that area, instead.
Purchasing the land a parcel at a time, Folger acquired the entire property by 1928 at a reported cost of more than $300,000.