A tour of the oldest buildings in DC

Washington, DC

Every building tells a story, and the ones you’ll hear about the nation’s capital are filled with intrigue, drama and revenge. Visit landmark structures in Washington, DC—from the Old Stone House to the White House—and embark on a lively and eye-opening trek into quirky American history.

The White House, Washington, DC.
The White House, Washington, DC.

Haunting History
Head over to trendy Georgetown for a trip into pre-Revolutionary America. The Old Stone House brims with tales to tell—and some 11 ghosts to tell them. Close your eyes and imagine horse-drawn carts rattling through cobbled streets in 1765, when woodworker Christopher Layman paid one pound, 10 shillings for the Old Stone House parcel. His widow later traded the house to the “companion” of the town’s mayor for 100 pounds of tobacco. It served as a hat shop, a clock store and the office of a used car lot before receiving historical-site status.

Grab a friend to hide behind, and spend an evening in the Old Stone House. Locals say spirits from past centuries haunt the place, including a woman with ringlets and several colonial children.

The Fall of the House of Lee
You’ll hear a tale worthy of a soap opera, complete with divided loyalties and bitter revenge, when you tour the Arlington House. It’s located on the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery, just across the Potomac from the National Mall. The Greek Revival mansion was once home to Robert E. Lee, leader of the Confederate Army. Lee—George Washington’s grandson—was asked to lead the Union Army, but he followed Southern loyalties instead. Union Army leaders appropriated the 1,100-acre estate and—to avenge Lee’s betrayal—felled trees and buried fallen officers on the once-gorgeous estate grounds.

A House With a Revolutionary Heart
Don’t let appearances fool you. The Sewall-Belmont House may seem like an unassuming brick house in the upscale Capitol Hill neighborhood, but revolution once brimmed inside its walls as women waged the war for the right to vote.

This is the stuff that legends are made of: a determined band of women literally placing their lives on the line to win the vote for half the nation’s population. Built around 1799, the Sewall-Belmont House became the headquarters of the National Woman’s Party in 1929. Don’t miss the banner used in the first protest for women’s rights and Susan B. Anthony’s desk.

The Secrets of the President’s Palace
What’s a visit to the nation’s capital without a peek inside the White House, home to every U.S. President since John Adams? Some, like Abraham Lincoln, never left, according to insiders like Prime Minister Winston Churchill. They claim to have seen Lincoln’s ghost in the Yellow Oval Room.

Be an early bird to tour the White House—originally called the President’s Palace—because spaces go fast. You can reserve a spot up to six months in advance by contacting your congressperson. Bring a camera; you can now take photos on the tour.