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Helen Betts | all galleries >> Washington, DC: 'A Capital City' > Decatur House on Lafayette Square
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Decatur House on Lafayette Square

Decatur House on Lafayette Square

Stephen Decatur, whose name all Americans have heard in history class, I imagine, was a naval officer famous for his heroism in the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars. He was mortally wounded in an 1820 duel fought in Bladensburg, Maryland, and died two days later in his house on Lafayette Park, just across from the White House.

Decatur House is one of the oldest surviving homes in Washington, DC, and one of only three remaining residential buildings in the country designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the father of American architecture. Completed in 1818 for naval hero Stephen Decatur and his wife Susan, its distinguished neoclassical architecture and prominent location across from the White House made Decatur House one of the capital's most desirable addresses and home to many of our nationís most prominent figures. (from the museum Web site)

We've owned a house in Washington for 20 years, and yet I've never once been inside this museum. The other day while taking pictures in the area, I peered in the door to look at a light fixture, and a very nice woman came out and told us all about the museum. We would have liked to go in for a tour, but we had our dog with us, who would have had to stay in their courtyard in 96 degree heat, so we decided to return another day sans pooch.

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