Certainly a place of unquestionable history, Washington D.C. seems to have a historic home around every corner. These locations, including the homes of founding fathers, former presidents, civil rights leaders, suffragettes and diplomats, together with historic houses in northern Virginia and suburban Maryland, make up The Historic House Museum Consortium of Metropolitan Washington D.C.
Thirty-four sites in all, the Consortium exhibits the variety of architectural styles that have prevailed during different periods in our nation’s capital with everything from stately plantations to a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and from urban row homes to, of course, the White House. These historic houses are open to the public.
Historic Houses of Washington D.C.
Anderson House - The Society of the Cincinnati
The Gilded Age lives on in this Beaux Arts mansion constructed in 1905 as a winter home for American Ambassador Larz Anderson and his wife. The house has served as the headquarters for The Society of the Cincinnati since 1938.
Playing a part in more than one historic moment in D.C. history, Dumbarton House holds the distinction of being America’s first Register of the Treasury but also served as a safehouse for Dolley Madison who made it her first stop when fleeing the British in 1814. Dumbarton House is known for its collection of period decorative arts, textiles, fabrics and furniture.
Few theatres in history have earned a reputation as devastating as that of Fords Theatre. The 1865 site of the assassination of President Lincoln has been open to the public since 1968. The modern day Ford’s Theatre Society strives to present performances that foster both historic and cultural experiences.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Frederick Douglass was a freed slave who went on to be a civil rights leader and someone we all certainly learned of in school. In this house that Douglass called home from 1877 to 1895, you can view personal items, including furnishings and documents.
Heurich House Museum
Viewed as “America’s Premier Late-Victorian House Museum,” Heurich House was home to a very accomplished German immigrant by the name of Christian Heurich. Heurich was a brewer, real estate investor and philanthropist who built the house circa 1892.
Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
This former estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post Cereal fortune, sits on 25 acres overlooking D.C.’s famed Rock Creek Park. The site includes the mansion itself, formal gardens and greenhouse, as well as a cafe and museum shop.
The L. Ron Hubbard House Original Founding Church
Personal photographs and artifacts bring to life the historic work of L. Ron Hubbard, writer, explorer and founder of the church of Scientology. Designed by architect Waddy Wood in 1904, the location was literally the original church of Scientology.
President Lincoln’s Cottage at Soldiers’ Home
President Lincoln and his family used this site as a summer home -- typically from June through November -- during the Civil War. Multimedia guided tours of the cottage are offered.
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS
This location marks the last D.C. residence of Mary McLeod Bethune, a pioneering woman who served not only as an educator and activist, but as a presidential advisor as well. The house was the first official headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women which Bethune founded in 1935.
Meridian International Center
This site is actually made up of two historic mansions -- Meridian House and White-Meyer House -- and their gardens. Having served as homes to Ambassadors and then later the owner of The Washington Post, both homes were designed by architect John Russell Pope in the early 1900s and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Octagon House
Considered “one of the most beautiful homes in Washington D.C.,” Octagon House was the place President Madison and the First Lady called home following the burning of the White House by the British. Designed by William Thornton, the original architect of the U.S. Capitol, it is also the place where Madison later signed the historic Treaty of Ghent, which established peace with Great Britain.
Sewall-Belmont House and Museum
Considered “one of the premier women’s history sites in the nation,” this historic house serves as the headquarters for the National Woman’s Party. The house hold more than 150 years worth of archives and artifacts, including vital pieces of history from the suffrage and equal rights movement.
The Stephen Decatur House Museum
This historic residence was constructed circa 1818 for naval hero Stephen Decatur. Located across the street from the White House, it was designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe.
Tudor Place Historic House & Garden
Built circa 1816 by Martha Custis Peter, granddaughter of none other than Martha Washington, this is a great place to dig deeply into Washington family furnishings and history in general.
The White House
Not that it needs an introduction but the home to our nation’s First Family is indeed open to those who plan ahead. Public tours for groups of 10 or more can be scheduled up to six months in advance but you must make the request through your Member of Congress.
Built in 1801 by Philip Barton Key, Woodley has served as a summer house to the White House, as well as primary home to the historic likes of George Patton and Henry Stimson.
Woodrow Wilson House (National Trust)
Woodrow Wilson’s former home is the only presidential museum to found in Washington D.C. Objects from his time in the White House, as well as personal mementoes are just some of the items that await in the 1915 structure which is still furnished as it was when Wilson called it home.