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Historic Anderson House to Offer Special Tours of Rooms Not Seen

By P.L. Wolff

Accompanying images can be viewed in the current issue PDF

On two days at the end of January and the beginning of February the historic Anderson House Museum near Dupont Circle in the 2100 block of Massachusetts Avenue the public will have a rare opportunity to participate in special “behind-the-scenes” tours designed to illuminate the Anderson’s private lives on the mansion’s third floor.

This Beaux-Arts mansion, a national historic landmark building, was originally built in 1905 as the winter residence of Ambassador Larz Anderson III and his wife, Isabel Weld Perkins. Anderson, a career diplomat, served as American minister to Belgium and later, ambassador to Japan.

The tour will feature Larz and Isabel Anderson’s two bedroom suites, five guest suites, and 10 servant bedrooms and compare, using original blueprints and photographs, these rooms early 20th century appearance with their current arrangement.

Highlights will include Isabel Anderson’s boudoir adjacent to her much larger bedroom and the guest suite named for Robert Todd Lincoln who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom and was responsible for having Larz Anderson start his diplomatic service by being appointed as second secretary under Lincoln in London.

Also on view will be some of the Anderson’s original art and furnishings, including oil paintings, an Italian painted wood set of guest room furniture, and built-in bureaus in several servants’ rooms. The tour will especially illuminate the lives and work of the more than 20 servants working at Anderson House each season.

Leading the tour of the mansion’s private third floor, which is not otherwise open to the public, will be Deputy Director and Curator Emily Schulz and Whitney Robertson, the museum’s collections manager.

The approximately one-hour tour will be offered both on Wednesday evening, January 30th at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturday afternoon, February 2nd at 11 a.m. An informal reception with light refreshments will follow on both occasions. The third floor is handicap-accessible by elevator. Admission will be $10 and reservations are required; limited space is available on each tour. To register, visit

When Larz Anderson, who had been a devoted member of the Society of the Cincinnati, died in 1937, and having no children, the mansion and its contents were bequeathed to the Society for use as its headquarters and since 1939 maintained as an opulent house museum which is open to the public at no charge Tuesday through Saturday between 1:00 and 4:00 p.m.

The Society was founded in the spring of 1783 by officers of the Revolutionary Army camped at Newburgh, New York, near West Point, as they awaited word of the official end of the war (which did not come until late in the year following the signing of the Treaty of Paris in November.) George Washington agreed to serve as the Society’s first “President General,” an office he held until his death.