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.
Two gracious houses comprise the Textile Museum dedicated to textiles and handmade carpets. The 14,000-piece collection includes examples from around the world. Some items date back to 3000 BC. Bringing together works from the Americas, Spain, the Middle East and Asia, the informative and gracefully displayed exhibits emphasize the artistry of this craft and the cultures the textiles come from. A spacious garden lies behind the museum.
From El Greco's "The Visitation" to Byzantine and pre-Columbian artworks, jewelry and mosaics, Dumbarton Oaks is filled with elegant treasures. Built in 1801, the estate achieved its height of glory in the wealthy 1920s when it served as the high-society showpiece of Robert Bliss and his heiress wife, Mildred. The gardens occupy 10 acres above Georgetown and include terraced lawns, winding footpaths and elaborate fountains.