Georgetown, founded in 1751, is the oldest part of Washington D.C. It was a town before there was even a nation for which to build a capital city. It was named after King George II and featured cobblestone streets, some of which still exist around Georgetown University, where Bill Clinton went to school. (Clinton is the only president to have gone to college in D.C.) Many of the houses are very narrow — a pink one-bedroom on M Street is only 9.5 feet wide — because houses in the colonies were taxed by width.A Tour of Georgetown
Start your walking tour at the Old Stone House (3051 N Street), believed to be the oldest building in the city. It was built in 1765 by carpenter Christopher Layman, who had his workshop on the first floor. This four-room museum is now furnished in eighteenth-century décor, and it is open free to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 9
Walk down Jefferson Street to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Lock (between M and K Streets), where you can see this important link to the shipping history of Georgetown. The C&O Canal was supposed to connect with the Ohio River so that products could be shipped a total of 185 miles, but the quick development of the railroad made this method of transportation obsolete. Visitors can still travel on barges (mule-drawn ones, at that) and canoes along the canal.
According to Georgetown University records from 1967, William Jefferson Clinton ran for president of the East Campus Student Council. However, he lost to a classmate. G.U. legend has it that Clinton lost to a much less widely known candidate on the basis of Clinton's desire to unite all five of G.U.'s undergraduate schools. Many felt he had collaborated with the university's administration, which wanted the unification.
Walk down K Street until it intersects with Wisconsin Avenue, and you should find a fence, inside of which is a worn plaque identifying this site as Suter's Tavern, where George Washington and Pierre L'Enfant are said to have planned the city of Washington in 1790. No one knows for sure exactly where the tavern was situated.
Up Wisconsin Avenue and on the corner of Grace Street, you will find the C&O Canal Commemorative Marker. This granite stone is the only record of the canal in existence today, and it commemorates the completion of the canal in 1850. It lies right outside The Shops at Georgetown, a four-story mall that features a food court, Benihana, and Clyde's restaurants, and everything from bead stores to barber shops.
At 1066 Wisconsin Avenue is the Vigilant Firehouse, the oldest volunteer firefighter brigade in Washington, which was founded in 1817. The firehouse was built in 1844 and is now a restaurant that still bears the large “V” for Vigilant near its roof.
Further along M Street is the City Tavern (3206 M Street). Built in 1796, this tavern was the main terminal for the stagecoach line in Georgetown. It once hosted President John Adams for dinner on his inspection of the new city.
Georgetown has always been home to the city's influential and wellknown persons. Houses here have belonged to Alexander Graham Bell, Louisa May Alcott, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and countless politicians such as John F. Kennedy and Henry Kissinger. A number of movies have been filmed in Georgetown as well. The most famous are
It's hard to believe that a city that has preserved so much of its history allowed Francis Scott Key's house to be torn down to make way for a freeway exit ramp. All that is left is the Francis Scott Key Memorial Site (3518 M St.), which is a public park and a marker for the former home of the author of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Further along M Street, turn at 35th Street and you will reach Prospect Street. Here you will find the site of
Walk up 35th Street to N Street, and on the corner of 33rd Street you will find The Marbury House (3307 N St.), where U.S. Senator and Mrs. John F. Kennedy lived before they moved into the White House in 1961. It had been built for William Marbury in 1812.
Walk up 33rd Street and turn right at Q Street, and you will come to Tudor Place (1644 31st Street, 202-965-0400). William Thornton, who designed the Octagon and had a hand in the design of the U.S. Capitol, designed this home for Martha Washington's granddaughter, who married the mayor of Georgetown. The house is now a museum of Washington memorabilia. Tudor Place is open Tuesday through Sunday for guided tours only with admission.
Walk along Q Street until you get to 29th Street, and then head to R Street, where you will come to the large, fenced Victorian Oak Hill Cemetery. The cemetery was established by William Corcoran, who is also buried here, in 1850.
Just around the corner from the Oak Hill Cemetery is Evermay (1623 28th Street NW), a huge, quirky, red-brick mansion that looks like something out of an Edgar Allan Poe story. You can't enter, but you can walk along its brick wall and peer in at this home of Scottish bachelor Samuel Davidson, who once took out an ad about his property that warned his neighbors to avoid “Evermay as they would a den of evils, or rattlesnakes, and thereby save themselves and me much vexation and trouble.” When he died, his will forced his nephew to change his name to Davidson in exchange for the estate.
The chapel of Oak Hill Cemetery was designed by James Renwick, and even the gatehouse (3001 R Street) is quite beautiful. If you stroll the grounds, you will see Southern-style Victorian mourning sculptures, like winged angels. You can get a map of the gravesites at the gatehouse, and the cemetery is open from 10
On Q and 28th Streets is the Gun Barrel Fence, which stretches about a half a block and looks wholly unspectacular — until you realize that it was made from the guns and metal that were recovered from the Old Navy Yard after it was burned by the British in 1814.
Walk back down 28th Street to N Street until you get to 30th Street, and you will be standing in front of The French House (3017 N Street), which is where Jacqueline Kennedy lived for a year after her husband's assassination in 1963.