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25 Historic Buildings in Washington, DC

Washington, DC's Oldest Landmarks


The historic buildings of Washington, DC preserve the past and offer a fascinating glimpse into the changes in architecture and daily American life since the early settlement of the nation's capital. Following is a guide to the 25 oldest and most significant Washington, DC historic landmarks. (In order by date of construction)

1. Mount Vernon Estate

© Mount Vernon Ladies Association
1674 (land granted to John Washington, great-grandfather of George)
Mount Vernon, Virginia. The 500-acre estate of George Washington and his family includes a 14-room mansion that is beautifully restored and furnished with original objects dating back to the 1740's. Visitors can tour the outbuildings, including the kitchen, slave quarters, smokehouse, coach house and stables. The historic site is located along the shores of the Potomac River and is the most scenic tourist attraction in the Washington, DC area.

2. Old Stone House

© Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.
3051 M St. NW Washington, DC. Located in the heart of Georgetown, the oldest known private home in Washington, DC is preserved to demonstrate every day life for the average citizen during this time. The historic house is maintained by the National Park Service and is open to the public.

3. U. S. Capitol

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E. Capitol St. and First St. NW Washington, DC. One of the most recognizable historic buildings in Washington, DC is the U. S. Capitol building. Since its original construction, the building has been built, burnt, rebuilt, expanded and restored. The Capitol Complex includes the Capitol Building itself, the House and Senate Office Buildings, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Capitol Grounds, the Library of Congress buildings, the Supreme Court Building, the Capitol Power Plant, and various support facilities.

4. White House

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1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC. Although construction of the White House began while George Washington was president, he never lived in it. President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, were the first residents of the White House. The important Washington, DC landmark serves as the President’s home and office. There are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels.

5. U.S. Treasury Building

© Miller Taylor
15 St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC. The historic Gregorian-style building, located to the east of the White House, was burned and rebuilt several times during the 1800s. It is the third oldest federally occupied building in Washington DC, preceded only by the Capitol and the White House. At the time that it was built, it was one of the largest office buildings in the world. It is five stories tall and sits on 5 acres with a landscaped garden.

6. Dumbarton House

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2715 Q St. NW Washington, DC. The historic house in Georgetown was originally the home to Joseph Nourse, first Register of the U.S. Treasury. Today it is owned by The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and serves as a museum displaying an outstanding collection of Federal period (1790-1830) furniture, paintings, textiles, silver, and ceramics.

7. Sewall-Belmont House

144 Constitution Ave. NE Washington, DC. The National Historic Landmark located on Capitol Hill is the headquarters of the National Woman's Party and was the home of its founder Alice Paul. The museum offers educational programming and is open for public tours.

8. The Octagon Museum

1799 New York Ave. NW Washington, DC. This building was designed by Dr. William Thornton, first architect of the U.S. Capitol. It was part of the Pierre L'Enfant plan to establish a residential section of the federal city. During the War of 1812, the Octagon served as a temporary home for James and Dolley Madison after the White House was burned. Later, the building served as a girls school, the Navy Hydrographic Office, and headquarters for the American Institute of Architects. Today, the historic building serves as a museum of architecture, design, historic preservation, and the early history of Washington, DC.

9. Arlington House

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Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA. The home of Robert E. Lee and his family, serves as a memorial to this important historic figure that helped restore America after the Civil War. About 200 acres of the land that occupies Arlington National Cemetery was originally the property of the Lee family. Arlington House sits atop a hill, providing one of the best views of Washington, DC.

10. The Willard Hotel

© Willard InterContinental Hotel

1401 Pennsylvania Ave. Washington, DC. The historic luxury hotel has been a central gathering place for elegant dinners, meetings and gala social events for more than 150 years. The Willard is a Washington institution that has hosted almost every U.S. president since Franklin Pierce in 1853.

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