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The Henson Suite

500 sq. feet Queen Size Bed, door to back balcony overlooking the garden, complimentary coffee, sodas & craft beer, Wi-fi Netflix, & separate sitting area . 

Matthew Henson was an African American explorer best known as the co-discoverer of the North Pole with Robert Edwin Peary in 1909.

“Peary shook my hand and beamed at our four Eskimo dog drivers at 10:30 a.m., Eastern Standard Time, on April 6, 1909.”

—Matthew Henson

Famed African-American explorer Matthew Henson was born in Charles County, Maryland, in 1866. Explorer Robert Edwin Peary hired Henson as his valet for expeditions. For more than two decades, they explored the Arctic, and on April 6, 1909, Peary, Henson and the rest of their team made history, becoming the first people to reach the North Pole—or at least  they claimed to have. Henson died in New York City in 1955.


At the age of 11, Henson left home to find his own way. After working briefly in a restaurant, he walked all the way to Baltimore, Maryland, and found work as a cabin boy on the ship Katie Hines. Its skipper, Captain Childs, took Henson under his wing and saw to his education, which included instruction in the finer points of seamanship. During his time aboard the Katie Hines, he also saw much of the world, traveling to Asia, Africa and Europe.

In 1884 Captain Childs died, and Henson eventually made his way back to Washington, D.C., where he found work as a clerk in a hat shop. It was there that, in 1887, he met Robert Edwin Peary, an explorer and officer in the U.S. Navy Corps of Civil Engineers. Impressed by Henson's seafaring credentials, Peary hired him as his valet 

The team's final attempt to reach the North Pole began in 1908

The expedition continued into the following year, and while other team members turned back, Peary and the ever-loyal Henson trudged on. Peary knew that the mission's success depended on his trusty companion, stating at the time, "Henson must go all the way. I can't make it there without him." On April 6, 1909, Peary, Henson, four Eskimos and 40 dogs (the trip had begun with 24 men, 19 sledges and 133 dogs) finally reached the North Pole—or at least  they claimed to have.

Triumphant when they returned, Peary received many accolades for his accomplishment, but—an unfortunate sign of the times—as an African American, Henson was largely overlooked.

Henson spent the next three decades working as a clerk in a New York federal customs house, but he never forgot his life as an explorer.70-year-old Henson finally received the acknowledgment he deserved: The highly regarded Explorers Club in New York accepted him as an honorary member. In 1944 he and the other members of the expedition were awarded a Congressional Medal.

In a move to honor Henson, in 1987, President Ronald Reaganapproved the transportation of Henson's remains for reinterment at Arlington National Cemetery

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