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Closely connected to the first years of the American Republic, the house has stood on the heights of Georgetown for over two centuries and provided refuge for First Lady Dolley Madison during the War of 1812. On August 24, 1814, Dolley had been watching for the enemy at the White House, while President James Madison had joined his generals at the Battle of Bladensburg, Maryland. When news arrived that the Americans were retreating, Dolley set off in the carriage of Charles Carroll, to his home, Bellevue (now called Dumbarton House), to await news from the President. After fleeing In the hours that followed, the British burned the Capitol and President's House. Tours and public programs are offered year-round.
Today Dumbarton House is one of the few stately brick homes in Washington to survive the heady days when the country and its capital were new. The design of the house reflects the shift from Georgian tradition to the Adamesque Federal style that would take hold as the new republic defined itself. From the parlor to the dining room, through the music room to the bedrooms upstairs, visitors to Dumbarton House today see a wealth of furniture, paintings, textiles, silver, and ceramics that were made and used in the republic’s formative years.