Best historic houses photo
(Kevin Clark)

Best historic houses

Erin Williams  |  Updated 07/08/2011

You know Mount Vernon; here are other homes that illuminate our past.

 

Beall-Dawson House

Rockville, MD

The Federal-style home of Upton Beall (pronounced "bell"), former circuit clerk of Rockville, was once visited by the Marquis de Lafayette. It retains much of its original architecture, including an indoor slave quarters, and is filled with 19th-century furnishings. A rotating exhibit on the upper level features items from the collection of the Montgomery County Historical Society. The tour begins next door, at the office of Rockville physician Edward Stonestreet, which was built in 1852. $5.

 

Belair Mansion

Bowie, MD

This home was finished around 1745 by Maryland provincial governor Samuel Ogle; owners have included William Woodward Sr., part of the only father-son duo of horse breeders to win the Triple Crown. The family raised several prominent Thoroughbred horses, an interest reflected in the decor in the upstairs of the house. Though surrounded by a subdivision, the Georgian plantation holds its original charm. Donations requested at the door.

 

Carlyle House Historic Park

Alexandria, VA

Built in 1753 by John Carlyle, a wealthy merchant who was one of the founders of Alexandria, this home in the heart of Old Town also functioned as the headquarters of Gen. George Braddock while the latter was planning the French and Indian War. The sandstone house, an example of Georgian Palladian architecture, reflects Carlyle's Scottish background and is filled with period furnishings, including a spinnet. $5.

 

Dumbarton House

Washington, DC

This Federal-era home, circa 1800, once belonged to first Register of the Treasury Joseph Nourse and is now the headquarters of the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. You can guide yourself or follow a docent through the Georgetown mansion, which has a collection of Federal furnishings and art, and has been restored to reflect how it would have appeared when the Nourse family lived there, between 1804 and 1813. $5.

 

Frederick Douglass National Historic Site

Washington, DC

Famed abolitionist, orator and author Frederick Douglass lived in Anacostia's Cedar Hill, built around 1859, from the late 1870s until his death in 1895. The home, which boasts an impressive view of the city, contains belongings, books and portraits of family and friends that lend insight into Douglass's life. A set of pillow shams embroidered by his second wife, Helen, hint at ongoing competition between her and his deceased wife, Anna. $1.50 for reserved tickets.

 

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden

Washington, DC

Owned by Martha Custis, granddaughter of Martha Washington, this Georgetown home dates to 1816 and has a great view of Northern Virginia and the Potomac River. Docents will fill you in on the five generations of Custises who occupied the home until 1983. While there are several unique pieces in the Neoclassical house, pay attention to the bathroom in the beginning of the tour. $8.

 

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