Oldest Buildings in Washington, DC

10 Oldest Buildings in Washington, DC

In Washington, D.C., the oldest buildings are a testament to the city’s history. From the War Department to the Capitol Building, these historic structures have been at the center of many important events in American history.

The oldest buildings in Washington are important because they tell us about the history of the city. Buildings are also an important part of the culture and design of the city. They can be used to show how the city has changed over time and how it has evolved.

Washington, D.C. is known as the heart of the United States of America and is home to some quite impressive buildings that have come to power in this country. This article will share with you ten of the oldest and most historic buildings in Washington, DC.

10. The Willard Hotel

Year Built: 1847
Location: 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Area: over 22,000 sq.ft
Current Usage: Hotel

The Willard Hotelphoto source: wikipedia.org

Henry Willard established the present-day hotel in 1847 when he leased the six buildings, joined them into one, and expanded it into a four-story hotel, which he dubbed Willard’s Hotel.

In 1864, Willard bought the hotel property from Ogle Tayloe. However, a disagreement about the purchase price and the method of payment resulted in significant equity litigation that went all the way to the US Supreme Court.

Did You Know?

In 1860, delegations including the first set of three Japanese diplomats to the United States stayed at the Willard.


9. U.S. Treasury Building

Year Built: 1836
Location: 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Area: 765 sq.m
Current Usage: Government Office

U.S. Treasury Building

photo source: home.treasury.gov

The Department’s third office facility in Washington, DC, is the current Treasury Building. In 1814 and 1833, the first two were set on fire. The Treasury Structure was built between 1836 and 1869 in four major phases, making it the third-oldest continually inhabited federal office building in Washington (after the White House’s center and two of the US Capitol Building).

Because it has stayed on the same piece of property since the Seat of Government moved from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, in 1800, the Treasury is unusual among Cabinet departments.

Did You Know?

The Treasury Department was situated in the first of George Hadfield’s three brick Executive Offices, which were constructed between 1798 and 1799 on the location of the current north wing.


8. Decatur House

Year Built: 1818
Location: 748 Jackson Pl NW
Area: 0.40 hectares
Current Usage: House Museum

photo source: nps.gov

The Decaturs’ house, constructed between 1818 and 1819, was the first private property in the area around the White House. It was a three-story townhouse built with red brick in the austere Federal style of the time, and was thereafter known as Decatur House.

The Decaturs arrived in 1819 with high hopes for both the Capital City and their own social standing. Stephen Decatur, who was already well-known due to his victories in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, rose to prominence as one of Washington’s most illustrious individuals, and the pair strengthened their standing by hosting a series of extravagant parties in their new home.

Unfortunately, the couple only lived in the mansion for fourteen months since Decatur was fatally wounded in a duel on March 22, 1820, against Commodore Barron.

Did You Know?

One of the three residences built by neoclassical architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe that are still standing in the nation is the Decatur House.mb


7. Tudor Place

Year Built: 1816
Location: 1644 31st St NW
Area: 2.23 hectares
Current Usage: Garden, Museum, Events Place

photo source: tudorplace.org

The Peters family started building their neoclassical residence in 1813. Prominent political figures in the country were hosted here by Thomas and Martha Peter.

In addition to being built to impress and amuse, Tudor Place was also created to honor the fledgling American Republic with its classical design cues.

On October 8, 1988, Tudor Place opened to the public as a historic home and garden.

Did You Know?

Six generations and four owners later, Tudor Place was still owned by the Peter family.


6. The Octagon Museum

Year Built: 1801
Location: 1799 New York Ave NW
Area: Unknown
Current Usage: Museum

The Octagon Museumphoto source: architectsfoundation.org

Since its construction began in 1799, the Octagon has been closely linked to our country’s history. The Octagon is a symbol of power and influence in Washington, DC. After Washington was burned down in 1814, the White House was temporarily housed in this structure, which was constructed by William Thornton, the country’s first Capitol architect.

Did You Know?

In the history of the United States of America, only five homes have served as presidential residences.


5. Sewall-Belmont House

Year Built: 1800
Location: 144 Constitution Ave NE 20002
Area: 3642 sq.m
Current Usage: Events Place, House, Museum

Sewall-Belmont Housephoto source: nps.gov

The Sewall-Belmont House, one of the oldest houses on Capitol Hill, is now the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. It once served as the headquarters of the historic National Woman’s Party.

For 43 years, Alice Paul, the founder of the NWP and a militant suffragist leader who wrote the Equal Rights Amendment and was a lifetime advocate for women’s rights, lived at this National Historic Landmark in Washington.


4. Dumbarton House

Year Built: 1799
Location: 2715 Q St NW 20007
Area: 2428 sq.m
Current Usage: National Headquarters of the NSCDA

Dumbarton Housephoto source: dumbartonhouse.org

Originally, Joseph Nourse, the first Register of the US Treasury, lived at this historic mansion.

It is now a museum with an extraordinary collection of items from the Federal period , including furniture, paintings, textiles, silver, and ceramics, and is held by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America.

Did You Know?

Samuel Jackson built Dumbarton House on this hill in 1799.


3. U.S. Capitol

Year Built: 1793
Location: First St SE
Area: 1.62 hectares
Current Usage: Government Office

U.S. Capitolphoto source: aoc.gov

Though it was submitted months after the conclusion of a design project conducted in 1792, a concept by William Thornton, a versatile physician without formal architectural experience, was ultimately approved. Thornton’s design won over Thomas Jefferson’s, who at the time served as secretary of state, and who wrote it.

On September 18, 1793, Washington laid the foundation stone.

The competition’s runner-up, Stephen Hallet, originally oversaw the construction because Thornton had no experience of building technology. Hallet tried to change a lot of Thornton’s ideas, but he was rapidly removed, first by George Hadfield and then by James Hoban, the White House’s architect.

Did You Know?

The National Statuary Hall Collection in the US Capitol has 100 statues in all. Two sculptures may be contributed by each state, and they all have.


2. The White House

Year Built: 1792
Location: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Area: 7.2 hectares
Current Usage: US Presidents’ Official Residence and Workplace

photo source: thoughtco.com

The cornerstone of the White House was first laid in 1792. James Hoban, an architect of Irish descent, had his design chosen for the construction.

John Adams, the first president, and his wife, Abigail, moved into the still-unfinished house after eight years of building. James Hoban was selected to restore the President’s House after it was destroyed by the British during the War of 1812.

Did You Know?

570 gallons of paint are needed for the White House’s exterior.


1. Old Stone House

Year Built: 1765
Location: 3051 M St NW
Area: 0.16 hectares
Current Usage: Educational center

Old Stone Housephoto source: Wikimedia Commons

Constructed in 1765, the Old Stone House is the oldest building in Washington, DC, and is situated in the Georgetown neighborhood. It looks like a typical home. An antique stone house’s kitchen is decorated in 18th-century fashion.

In Washington, DC, the oldest stone building was constructed as a private residence. Bedrooms are decorated in an 18th-century fashion. The public is welcome to use the small garden at Old Stone House.

Did You Know?

The building served many purposes, such as a place for car dealing in the 20th century.

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