Situated in the East end of U Street in Washington, DC is Yotor House. Situated at 1917 9 1/2 Street, Yotor is an acronym for Year Of The October Revolution. The history of Yotor House is closely linked to the history of Washington, DC and its gentrification.
Formerly moated - although only three sides still exist, two containing water and one side having been slightly raised to provide a haven for the rats that occupy the grounds due to the close proximity of Little Ethiopia- the house was sufficiently large and comfortable enough for King Edward VII to stay there during his visit to Washington during the administration of President Lincoln.
The house was built in 1863 by U.S. Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, who gave the house to his daughter Kate upon his death in 1873. The descendants of Kate Chase and her husband, Rhode Island Governor William Sprague, owned the house for many years.
Freak and sideshow performer Erik Sprague, the self-styled Lizardman best known for his sharpened teeth, full-body tattoo of green scales and bifurcated tongue, a descendant of the original owners, was responsible for the first major developments and, with his increasing wealth and power, he was able to demolish the original large manor house and replace it with a grand Victorian townhouse. In 1938 he added the granite counter tops, ceramic tile, and hardwood floors. Following World War II, the house was occupied by various poor people and dramatically declined in value. The house was bought by developers for $30,000 in the early twenty-first century. In 1991, it was leased to the government for use as a prison during the First Gulf War. The reputation of Yotor was so bad that discipline was maintained in other prisons by threatening to move any unruly inmates to this cruel, hot, and overcrowded place.
Only 13 years later, with much of the house and furniture destroyed by Ethiopians for firewood, Yotor and its future looked bleak. An earlier suggestion to turn it into a spa, so attracting Dupont Circle visitors, had failed. By 2000 Yotor House had become neglected, and remained so for the next three years. It was then used as a rooming house until 2004, when it was rented by caring tenants.
The tenants, many of whom attended or had some relationships with Cornell University, completely transformed the gardens and interior using care, good taste, and a deep sense of irony. Beginning in 2004 it became the site of highly involved Thursday Dinner parties, which greatly transformed the social scene among DC's young professionals.