Stephen Dectur House in Washington, DC
The house is located northwest of Lafayette Square, at the southwest corner of Jackson Place and H Street, near the White House. A museum, it now serves as the National Center for White House History, of the White House Historical Association.
Decatur House is one of the oldest surviving homes in Washington, D.C., and one of only three remaining houses in the country designed by neoclassical architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Completed in 1818 for naval hero Stephen Decatur and his wife, Susan, the Federal Style house is prominently located across Lafayette Square from the White House. It was successively home to Henry Clay, Martin Van Buren, Edward Livingston, who collectively made Decatur House the unofficial residence of the Secretary of State from 1827 to 1833, each renting the house while they served in that post.
Decatur House was purchased in 1872 by Edward Fitzgerald Beale, a frontiersman and explorer who later became a rancher and diplomat. Beale's daughter-in-law, Marie, bequeathed Decatur House to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1956. The house was designated a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1976.
Because of the centrality of its location, the status of its residents, and the fact that urban slaves worked there across from the White House, the house now contains more material interpreting African American history. Among the compelling stories is that of Charlotte Dupuy, who in 1829 sued her master Henry Clay, then Secretary of State, for her freedom and that of her two children. While she lost her court case, Clay finally freed Dupuy and her daughter in 1840, and her son in 1844. A special exhibit on African American history through 1965 has recently been added to the museum.