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Located across from the White House, Decatur House is the oldest house on Lafayette Square. It was designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe in 1819. The first owner, Stephen Decatur, was killed in a duel. A number of distinguished Washington families resided in the house afterwards, each one adding Victorian renovations and furnishings to this fine Federal-style mansion.
One of the most beautiful buildings in the nation's capital is the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. Built in 1888, it was known as the Old Executive Office Building. Today the building holds many of the offices that support the White House, including that of the Vice President. Historic meetings have taken place here, including talks between Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Japanese emissaries after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Tours are available Saturday mornings by advance reservation.
Established in 1793, this church has played an integral part in the lives of many political leaders. Several presidents and cabinet members regularly worshipped here including John Quincy Adams and Dwight Eisenhower. Abraham Lincoln came with his family throughout his presidency. The Lincoln Parlor displays the original hand-written draft of an 'Emancipation Document' from Lincoln to Congress suggesting a bill designed to free the slaves. New York Avenue Presbyterian Church played an active role in the Civil Rights movement; its members joined the March on Selma and worked with local organizations. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was often a guest preacher.
Standing tall despite its proximity to multistory office buildings, this smallish Gothic Revival church with bright red doors has been a fixture in downtown Washington. Before pavement replaced trees on G Street, Epiphany Church was a tiny hall of worship, then a hospital for Civil War wounded, then eventually was named as the District's Episcopal/Anglican Diocese. The church is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Epiphany and its lovely courtyard are open daily, and the church administers multiple services on Sunday (parking is free for worshipers). Small classical concerts are also held here on occasion.
The eight-sided, 19th-century home of John Tayloe III, a wealthy contemporary of early US presidents, offers an interesting glimpse into both history and architecture. President Madison resided here after the White House was burned in the War of 1812. The Treaty of Ghent was signed in the Octagon's study at the war's end. Architectural exhibits are integrated into the fine house with its period furnishings. The building itself is a masterpiece, designed by William Thornton, the architect of the U.S. Capitol and other high points of Federal-era Washington.
This neo-classical church, National City Christian Church, contains one of the largest pipe organs in Washington DC. Visitors can hear free organ recitals at 12:15pm Thursdays, February through December. The sanctuary, which rises 200 feet above Thomas Circle, was designed by famed architect John Russell Pope. Also on the premises is an International Gift Shop, which sells the crafts of artisans from Third World countries.
Built in 1840, the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle is both a beautiful and historical place of worship. St. Matthew is the patron saint of civil servants, so it is no wonder than this cathedral is one of the most prominent cathedrals in the United States' capital. Each year, the special "Red Mass" is held for the Supreme Court justices, President's cabinet, members of Congress, and - sometimes - even the President himself. This "Red Mass" is so named for the color of the vestments worn by those holding the mass. This famous cathedral, which was designed by New York architect C. Grant La Farge, was also the place where President John F. Kennedy's funeral was held in 1963.