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Highlight: Decatur House Restoration Project
Highlight: Decatur House Restoration Project

Highlight: Decatur House Restoration Project
The Stephen Decatur House Museum. Photo by Ron Blunt.

Lafayette Square, Washington, D.C.
Open year-round, Tuesday through Saturday
For more information call 202.842.0920 or visit www.decaturhouse.org

In the developing years of the nation's capital, internationally-celebrated naval hero Stephen Decatur (1779-1820) declared his commitment to the blossoming city by constructing a grand, Federal-style residence just steps from the White House. Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820) was the architect. For the entry hall, one of the most significant interior spaces in Washington, Latrobe echoed the interiors of his most important commission, the United States Capitol.

Highlight: Decatur House Restoration Project
Decatur House entry hall,
undergoing restoration.
Photography by Carol Highsmith.

The Stephen Decatur House Museum and its parent organization the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has recently begun to restore the entryway and stair hall to the grandeur of its appearance shortly after its construction in about 1820. To date, chemical and photomicrographic analysis of the painted surfaces has revealed a vibrant color scheme of pale gray-blue, Prussian blue, and golden yellow. These interiors will remain the subject of study and analysis for years to come -- therefore, the investigation and restoration process is being carefully documented and meets a standard of reversibility. The project, supported in part by Save America's Treasures grant, is scheduled for completion in early 2007. When finished, Decatur House and its project partners will have added to the body of knowledge about the building's past, conserved its significant architectural fabric, and enhanced the understanding of its important design.

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