“The light filled bedroom has an attached bathroom and closet space,” says the property’s listing, which does not mention its role in history. “Laundry is just steps down the hall. Come see this great condo close to it all.”
The street on which the apartment is located – P Street – is as quiet today as it was almost 50 years ago when it was rented by Woodward, a Washington Post reporter.
But unknown to his neighbours, and to the person who occupied a far grander property a few miles away at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, the flat performed a vital role when Woodward wanted to contact the source, who would help him and his colleague, Carl Bernstein, reveal the Watergate scandal that led to Richard Nixon’s downfall.
In their 1974 book All the President’s Men, which would subsequently be made into a movie with Robert Redford starring as Woodward, and Dustin Hoffman as Bernstein, the pair described how Woodward would contact Deep Throat, the name they gave to their source.
“When Woodward had an urgent inquiry to make, he would move the flower pot with the red flag to the rear of the balcony. During the day, Deep Throat would check to see if the pot had been moved. If it had, he and Woodward would meet at about 2.00am in a predesignated underground parking garage,” they wrote
“If Deep Throat wanted a meeting there was a different procedure. Each morning, Woodward would check page 20 of his New York Times, delivered to his apartment house before 7am. If a meeting was requested, the page number would be circled and the hands of a clock indicating the time of the rendezvous would appear in a lower corner of the page.”
Molly Peter, one of the apartment’s listing agents with Compass, told The Independent the property’s history was well known among Washingtonians.
“We have already have five or six offers,” she said. “And at the recent open house, I think think we got a lot of people who were there because they wanted to see a bit of history.”
Woodward and Bernstein kept their promise never to reveal, without his permission, the identity of their source, who helped them publish a series of exclusives about the Nixon-orchestrated break-in at the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in the Watergate building, and the subsequent cover up.
In 2005, Vanity Fair magazine identified former top FBI official Mark Felt as Deep Throat. The following day, Woodward revealed how he had met Felt by chance, and worked to build his trust. Felt died in 2008.
“In 1970, when I was serving as a lieutenant in the US Navy and assigned to Adm Thomas Moorer, the chief of naval operations, I sometimes acted as a courier, taking documents to the White House,” he wrote.
“One evening I was dispatched with a package to the lower level of the West Wing of the White House, where there was a little waiting area near the Situation Room. It could be a long wait for the right person to come out and sign for the material, sometimes an hour or more, and after I had been waiting for a while a tall man with perfectly combed grey hair came in and sat down near me.”