Designed in 1818 for the War of 1812 naval hero Stephen Decatur, Decatur House holds the honor of being the first and last house on Lafayette Square to be occupied as a private residence. Decatur is best remembered for his skills fighting Barbary pirates; sadly these failed him when he was killed in a duel a year after moving into his new home.
Architecturally, it’s an interesting mash-up of austere Federal and wedding cake Victorian influences. Inside, the house museum displays a permanent collection of Federalist and Victorian furnishings. You’ll also learn about the lives of its most famous tenants - including Martin Van Buren and Henry Clay - and the slaves who waited on them.
In the southeast corner of Lafayette Square, check out the likeness of Marquis de Lafayette, who became a revolutionary war general at age 19. Although Lafayette was branded a traitor in his native France, he was considered a hero in young America. In the northeast corner is a memorial to Tadeusz Kosciusko, an engineer in George Washington’s army. The sculpture is one of the most provocative in town.
Decatur House is located across the street from the White House. Other nearby attractions include the National Mall, the Art Museum of America, and the Aztec Gardens. The Decatur House is accessible via metro and bus.