Historic Mansions and Estates of Washington, D.C.

Explore a selection of D.C.'s historic mansions and estates on this tour. Whether hosting parties, housing art, or bearing witness to important business and political decisions, these places offer so much to learn about the history of D.C. This tour will introduce you to notable individuals and the places they called home, and often explore the people who worked at the estates or preserve them to this day. Most of these places are open for tours and may require advanced booking, so please check in advance if you are interested in a tour.

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Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens
Since its purchase in 1955 by the businesswoman, socialite, philanthropist and collector Marjorie Merriweather Post, Hillwood has served to function once as a place of residence, and forever as a museum to educate and awe those who visited it. Hillwood is known largely for its sizeable decorative arts collection that focuses heavily on the House of Romanov, a collection of French decorative art, and acres of sculpted gardens. Included in the collection are, among other pieces, Fabergé eggs, 18th and 19th century French art, and one of the country's finest orchid collections. Hillwood's mansion and gardens opened to the public in 1977 and are maintained by the Post Foundation.
Tregaron Estate
The Tregaron Estate, also known as the Causeway, is a twenty-acre estate located between Washington, D.C.’s Woodley Park and Cleveland Park neighborhoods. Built in 1912, the Tregaron Estate was designed by famed architect Charles Adams Platt, and it remains one of his most well-known works of architectural design in Washington, D.C. The historic estate includes a mansion, carriage house, greenhouse, gardener's residence, a Russian-style dacha, and numerous landscaping features designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 for its significance in architectural and landscape design and its notable homeowners. It is also a contributing feature of the Cleveland Park Historic District. Today, the buildings are home to the Washington International School and the Tregaron Conservancy. The Tregaron Estate is in the midst of a restoration project by the Tregaron Conservancy and is open to the public.
Woodley is a Federal mansion in Washington, D.C. constructed in 1801 by Philip Barton Key. As a private residence, it was home to well over a dozen influential individuals, including Presidents Grover Cleveland, Martin Van Buren, and James Buchanan, and Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. Since 1952, Woodley has been home to the Maret School, a private K-12 school founded in 1911 by three French sisters.
Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks includes the historic Dumbarton Oaks House museum and its associated formal garden, a 27-acre wilderness area, and Harvard University's Dumbarton Oaks Research Library. Founded by Robert Woods Bliss and Mildred Barnes Bliss, the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection specializes in Byzantine, Garden and Landscape, and Pre-Columbian studies, and includes not only books, but also images, art, objects, and documents.
Tudor Place
Tudor Place is a Federal mansion overlooking the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., connected with important individuals and families who founded the nation and its capital city. Tudor Place was built in 1816 by Martha Parke Custis Peter, Martha Washington’s granddaughter, and Thomas Peter, a businessman from Georgetown. Dr. William Thornton, the first Architect of the United States Capitol, designed Tudor Place with architecture styles inspired by ancient Rome and contemporary France. Tudor Place stayed in the Peter family for six generations until the property was deeded to a foundation in 1983. It opened as a museum in 1988 and interprets the multiple historical eras. Tudor Place is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was among the first properties designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Dumbarton House
Built in 1800, Dumbarton House is a Federal style mansion located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It is the headquarters of The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) and features a museum of colonial history. Its first occupant was Joseph Nourse, the first Register of the Treasury. The property was acquired by the NSCDA in 1928 and was given the name “Dumbarton House” after the original name of the land. The NSCDA hoped to illustrate domestic life in Georgetown during the early Federal period and opened the two main floors of the structure as a museum in 1932. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 28, 1991.
Woodrow Wilson House
The President Woodrow Wilson House was the abode that President and Mrs. Edith Wilson called home after his retirement from office in 1921. Wilson was the only president to remain in Washington D.C. after his term until Barack Obama in 2017. While Wilson lived at the house only three years until his passing in 1924, Mrs. Wilson kept residence there until her death in 1961. She donated the entire site and its contents to the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a memorial to her late husband, the 28th President of the United States. The house, built in 1915, was added to the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark due to its association with the Wilsons.
Anderson House
Built between 1902 and 1905, the Anderson House is a mansion constructed for American diplomat Larz Anderson and author Isabel Weld Perkins Anderson. It is located along Embassy Row in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C. After the death of Larz Anderson, the house was bequeathed to Society of the Cincinnati, an organization established in 1783 for veterans of the Continental Army and their descendants, of which Larz Anderson was an active member. Today, the Society maintains its headquarters at the Anderson House, along with an extensive research library and a museum related to the home and its history. The Anderson House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996.
The White House
Designed by architect James Hoban and built in coordination with George Washington and other American leaders, the Executive Mansion is known informally around the world as "The White House." Although President Washington oversaw construction, he never lived in the house. President John Adams, elected in 1796 as the second President, and First Lady Abigail Adams were the first residents of the White House, which was still unfinished at the time. It completed in 1800, though construction and restoration projects have taken place ever since. It was partially burned by the British in the War of 1812. Contrary to the popular story that it was painted white to hide burn marks, the White House was simply painted white in 1818. The building was known as the White House prior to this time because of lime-based whitewash that was used to protect the exterior. The White House also includes two wings: the West Wing, built in the early 1900s under Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft, and the East Wing, first built by President Theodore Roosevelt and significantly expanded in 1942 to include an underground bunker and office spaces. In all, the White House complex covers around 18 acres and includes gardens and spacious lawns.
Abraham Lincoln's Cottage
In 1862, Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were invited to stay in a Gothic Revival "cottage" that was originally built for George W. Riggs in 1842. During the Civil War, Lincoln and his family resided here for 13 months, from June 1862, to November 1864. During that time, Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln knew the Cottage and its surrounding campus as the Soldiers' Home, established by the federal government in 1851 as a home for displaced veterans, which today operates as the Armed Forces Retirement Home. In 2001, the National Trust for Historic Preservation attained the property and started a restoration and preservation process and it opened to the public in 2008. In addition to the White House and Ford's Theatre, the Cottage is a significant historic site associated with Lincoln's presidency.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site preserves the home and legacy of Frederick Douglass, former slave who became one of the most influential men of the 19th century. Douglass was a leading abolitionist, newspaper editor, civil rights advocate, author, orator, and statesmen. The Victorian-style home was built between 1855 and 1859 for John Van Hook. Douglass purchased the home in 1877 with the aid of Freedmen’s Savings and Trust Company. Douglass and his wife Anna moved into the home in 1878 after he received an appointment as the marshal for the District of Columbia. Frederick Douglass lived in the home until his death in 1895. It was acquired by the National Park Service in 1962.
Arlington House
Arlington House is a historic mansion located on a hillside amidst 250,000 military graves in Arlington National Cemetery. The mansion was famously occupied, although never actually owned, by Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Arlington House was built between 1803 and 1818 by George Washington’s adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, intended as a living memorial to the first United States president. Mary Anna Custis Lee, Custis’s daughter and Robert E. Lee’s wife, inherited the property after her father’s death in 1857. The property was later acquired by the federal government and became a National Park Service site in 1933. Arlington House is significant for its connection to notable colonial families as well as families who trace their lineages back to enslaved people at the plantation, such as the Grays and Syphaxes. Arlington House was dedicated as a memorial to Robert E. Lee in 1955, and the National Park Service interprets his legacy in addition to the Custis and Washington families and the enslaved people at Arlington.

This tour was created by Pamela Curtin on 11/17/17 .

This tour has been taken 286 times within the past year.

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