- Places to Explore
- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Fodor's Washington, D.C. 2014
Decatur House on Lafayette Square
Decatur House on Lafayette Square Review
Decatur House, home to the National Center for White House History, is located across from the White House and was the first and last private residence on Lafayette Square. The distinguished neoclassical house is the work of Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the country's first professional architect and engineer who is most famous for his construction of the Capitol and design of many of its beautiful interior spaces. Decatur House is one of the oldest surviving homes in Washington, and one of only three remaining residential buildings designed by Latrobe.
Built for naval hero Stephen Decatur and his wife, Susan, in 1819, the house bore witness to many historic events in the century and a half that followed. Planning to start a political career, Decatur built this home near the White House, but died tragically 14 months later after a famous duel with Commodore James Barron. Later occupants of the house included diplomats and statesmen, Baron de Tuyll, Henry Clay, Martin Van Buren, and the Beales, a prominent Western family whose modifications of the building include a parquet floor with the state seal of California. Wealthy hotel and tavern owner John Gadsby purchased the Decatur House as a retirement home in 1836, adding a large two-story dependency in the rear of the property, used as quarters for numerous enslaved individuals in his household—the only extant slave quarters in Washington.
There are no public tours, but school groups may reserve a field trip focused on Slavery, Emancipation, and the Power of the President. Visitors can stop in the Shop at President's Square, which sells upscale memorabilia on the history of The White House.
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Fodor's Go List 2014: Where we are going in 2014
- World Cup Fever: Start planning your trip to Brazil!
- Fodor's 100 Hotel Awards: Check out the winners of 2013
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
The arts group to which I belong hired a small bus for the above trip. Read more
A photographer friend and I met at the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History (woolly mammoth in entry) to see the winning entries of a recent photography contest sponsored by Smithsonian and Epson. Read more
I had a 3 hour layover in Washington, DC and decided to leave the airport and adventure out into the city. Read more
· News & Features
A getaway over Martin Luther King, Jr., weekend (January 17–20, 2014) proposes the perfect remedy ... Read more
From buzzy emerging neighborhoods to a burgeoning culinary scene, here are five reasons to visit Washington,... Read more
Washington, D.C., is a city of trees, with some 300 tree species spread out in its vicinity. Each fall,... Read more