Decatur House

Decatur House

The White House Historical Association established the National Center for White House History at Decatur House. The center houses historical documentation, supports research efforts, and provides education programs related to the study and history of the White House. In the near future, the center’s activities will focus on research related to White House history, will offer expanded programming to children in grades K-12, and host events, such as lecture programs, that explore both White House history and the surrounding area of historic Lafayette Square.

Designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, the “Father of American Architecture”, and prominently located on Lafayette Square across from the White House, Decatur House is one of the capital's most desirable locations. The association will continue Decatur House’s tradition of fine Washington entertaining by offering rental opportunities for receptions, weddings, meetings and parties.

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Image Credit: Decatur House


The White House Historical Association offers free public tours of historic Decatur House every Monday, excluding holidays.

(Note: Many places fill to capacity on busy, nice weather days, especially holiday weekends. Please call ahead or visit the official website to get the most up-to-date information before visiting.)




Built in 1818, Decatur’s home was the first private residence in the White House neighborhood. Thereafter known as Decatur House, it was a nearly square three-story town house constructed with red brick in the austere Federal fashion of the day. Completed in 1819, Decatur House is significant as the first private residence constructed on Lafayette Square and the last of Benjamin Henry Latrobe's city houses in America to be preserved. In 1819, the Decaturs moved in with high expectations for the Capital as well as their own social position. Already a celebrity from his conquests in the Barbary Wars and the War of 1812, Stephen Decatur became one of Washington’s most celebrated figures, and the couple advanced their position by throwing a number of lavish parties in their new house. Unfortunately, the couple only occupied the house for a mere 14 months as Stephen was mortally wounded in a duel against Commodore James Barron on March 22, 1820.


Last updated: May 17, 2022
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