No, this is not the new Dan Brown book. The folks at the Smithsonian forwarded me a fascinating story about an old iron coffin discovered during a recent renovation. The coffin held William Taylor White, a student who died in 1852. The museum worked to identify the boy, who was 15 years old and a student at Columbian College, where he was buried. Columbian College is now known as the George Washington University: until the 1870s, the college was located north of Florida Avenue between 14th and 15th Street, which was then called College Hill.
Our neighborhood actually got its name from Columbian College, and there are still a few remnants around, like University Place between 15th and 16th and the various local streets named for colleges: Harvard and Kenyon for example, while Fairmont used to be called Yale and Girard was Princeton -- check out an old map showing that.
The museum tracked down the boy's living relatives, and his remains were recently donated to the Smithsonian. The museum also put together this slideshow about the story: