Historic homes in the DC area

Washington DC, for an east coast city, is a fairly new place. The city plans weren’t even laid down until 1790, when the district was approved as the newly centralized site of the new federal government. And yet in those 222 years is packed a significant amount of history as befitting the capital of a rapidly growing, changing, dynamic republic, and the city is dotted rather liberally with homes of special significance. Many of these houses are still in regular use, and sit side by side in inconspicuous, stately neighborhoods that belie their true status.

Located near the heart of the old city in Historic Anacosita, Cedar Hill is the famous former home of freed slave and early civil rights advocate Frederick Douglas. He purchased the home in 1877, and lived there while US Marshal for the district. The home offers stunning views of the nearby capital and mall. The home is now a National Historic Site and pays homage to his life and accomplishments.

The historic Carlyle House is situated in Old Town Alexandria, across from city hall. Completed in 1753 by a wealthy merchant for his wife, the home soon became an important center for the social and political life of the area. British General Braddock made the house he’s headquarters during the French and Indian War. The home remains as the only stone 18th century example of Palladian-style house in the region.

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden was originally owned by Martha Custis Peter, Granddaughter of Martha Washington and influential social matriarch of early DC. Located in Georgetown’s Historic District and now open to the public, Tudor Place houses a fine collection of over 8000 pieces of art from the 1750s through 1983. Some consider this site to be one of Washington DC’s true hidden gems.

Ranking as the oldest known private home in Washington, Old Stone House was built in 1765. Nestled in the heart of Georgetown, this modest stone cottage is now maintained by the National Park Service and is now open to the public. The interior is now kept with era specific furniture and fixtures, showcasing the everyday lives of ordinary citizens from so long ago.

Richard Bland Lee was Virginia’s first representative to congress, as well as uncle to famed Civil War general Robert E. Lee. His home is also now on the National Register for Historic places, and a fully interactive museum that highlights the Lee family, tenant farming, and the role slaves played in the region’s history.

There are literally hundreds of historic homes still to be found in the Washington DC area, and they are almost hidden around every corner. The Best way to find them is to simply start looking!

Ed Michelson blogs for We Buy Ugly Houses, a national real estate company which buys and sells homes throughout the US.