The DAR and the Capitol

Washington Travel Blog

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New Jersey room

It had been over two months since I had last visited DC so I was excited to head to the capital this morning.  I picked my parents up at their inn and then drove to the Suitland metro station.  Here we had slight technical difficulties trying to get passes (my parents needed day passes and I needed to reload my metro card).  The machine all the way on the left would not accept credit cards, only debit cards and we don't have any.  Luckily, the next machine over took our credit cards.  The next "hurdle" for us was to navigate the metro system since the Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stations were closed for track work.  This wasn't difficult to deal with; it just meant we had a few extra stops and transfers along the way.

We came above ground at Farragut North and walked south through some heavy winds to the DAR Museum.

California room
  I found out later just how heavy the winds were; the National Christmas tree by the White House fell over that morning.

We entered the DAR Museum through a side entrance.  I was surprised to see the year 1776 on the side of the building; I knew there was no way it was that old.  My theory was that the year was chosen to recognize the fact that the organization was based out of the revolution which started in 1776.  Some on-line research later revealed that 1776 is actually the street number of the museum.

We were greeted by an elderly docent who combined our group of three with two other family groups for a tour of the Period rooms.  We took an elevator up to the second floor and preceded to walk through various narrow hallways and up and down stairs to see about two dozen different Period rooms out of thirty-one possible.

skylight in genealogy room
  Each room is sponsored by a state.  All of the pieces are supposed to be from that state.  The room usually represents a parlor, a study, a dining room, or a bedroom.  The rooms are designed in the time ranging from our revolution to earlier in the last century.  Since I love history, these rooms were right up my alley.  Our first few rooms were quick glimpses since we were a large group  (other rooms would receive more viewing time).  With stained glass windows New Jersey was the first room.  Besides being beautiful, the dark wood paneling had an interesting story; it spent decades underwater as timbers of a sunken battleship.  California with its Spanish and Asian influences was another early room we saw as was an Indiana parlor with blue chairs.
decorative work in genealogy room

We stepped into the upper balconies of what had originally been the theater for the DAR; boxes still stood across from us where a stage would have been.  After the building of Consitution Hall next door, this space evolved into a huge genealogy hall.  Thousands of records--birth, death, marriage, property--allow visitors to trace their ancestry.  Flags from every state hung high in the ceilings; the seals from the original thirteen colonies decorated the balcony where we stood.  A huge skylight flooded the open space with light; the white of the walls added to the brilliance.

Our tour continued through other rooms:

  • New Hampshire: an attic playroom with dressmaker dolls, stuffed animals, and dolls playing school.  Outside of this room was an interactive exhibit for children
  • Delaware: a study with green trim
  • Virginia: a dining room, the table set
  • Connecticut: a functional conference room with gorgeous chandeliers
  • Texas: the bedroom of an immigrant German family, a simple natural pattern painted on its wooden walls
  • New York: a parlor with wallpaper in an elaborate Chinese pattern
  • Massachusetts: a typical room of the Revolutionary Era which combined sleeping and dining, the oysters on the table showing a meal interrupted by the approach of British troops
  • Michigan: a red parlor filled with books
  • Iowa: a parlor set for the parents' tea and also a child's
  • Vermont: a parlor with a quilt in the making
  • Tennessee: a parlor undergoing renovation, a portrait of Andrew Jackson still hanging on the wall
  • Maryland: also undergoing renovation, all the furniture removed, but the painted wallpaper showing French unrest was still there
  • Ohio: a parlor with pink dishes
  • Missouri: a parlor with a ram's head snuffbox on the floor
  • District of Columbia: the only room with a mannequin, she depicts Dolly Madison standing next to a sewing table
  • Illinois: a bedchamber with a draped bed

Pennsylvania's contribution was the main foyer of the building.

state flags in genealogy room
  With the doors shut, the grey stone was a little dark but the plaster designs along the ceiling along with the busts of famous Americans made this space quite elegant.

One more room that I must mention was the O'Byrne Gallery.  With windows all along one long wall, this banquet hall was flooded with sunlight, the opposite of the more subdued Pennsylvania Foyer.  Our tour guide mentioned that this was where wedding receptions were sometimes held and I immediately saw the novelty: how many other brides would be able to say that they had been married in a library in DC, less than a five minute walk from the White House itself?  The window arches and stately columns of the portico just outside made this space even more appealing.  Not that I am even dating someone right now, but Mom and I looked up prices for rental when we got home that night, just out of curiosity: $600.

dolls in New Hampshire attic room
...an hour.  That doesn't include the portico or any other space.  Oh, and you still have to find your own caterers.

We headed over to the Capitol building after this since my dad had tickets for a 2:30 tour which we got bumped up to 2:00.  We had lunch in the Visitors' Center, a place that had not been completed the last time we toured the Capitol.  We took advantage of the time before our tour to go through part of the exhibits and also look at some of statues of famous people chosen to represent their states.

The tour started with a video in a tiered auditorium.  After exiting at the top, we put on headphones to be able to hear our guide Vernon since there were several dozen of us.  The tour only made three stops: one in the room above George Washington's crypt (although he's actually buried at Mount Vernon), the Rotunda, and Statuary Hall.

  While the Rotunda and Statuary Hall are definitely impressive, I have been there before and previously blogged about it so I'm not going to repeat details this time.  Perhaps the one interesting note came from the fact that the states are now allowed to replace their two statues with other famous people from the state if voters choose.  Allen from Ohio was standing in Statuary Hall for perhaps the last time that  I would see; Ohio has decided to replace him with Edison, I just don't know how long the process will take.

Following our tour, we finished viewing the exhibits in the Visitors' Center.  The exhibits do a nice job of showing how the Senate and House of Representatives have evolved over the last two centuries.  Viewers are introduced to major players and issues for the two chambers.

dollhouse porch

We had to switch trains twice on our way home but we made it to the Bob Evans in Bowie before dark for dinner.  My parents had dinner food; I had breakfast food :)  The blueberry crepes are good!

Back at the townhouse, my cat decided that she preferred my mom's lap and we watched my new DVD of When in Rome.  Yes, I know it's a basic chick flick but it made me laugh so I'm happy to have my own copy now.  We also discussed plans for Sunday before I drove my parents back to their hotel.

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New Jersey room
New Jersey room
California room
California room
skylight in genealogy room
skylight in genealogy room
decorative work in genealogy room
decorative work in genealogy room
state flags in genealogy room
state flags in genealogy room
dolls in New Hampshire attic room
dolls in New Hampshire attic room
dollhouse porch
dollhouse porch
Virginia dining room
Virginia dining room
Connecticut board room
Connecticut board room
Texas
Texas
New York
New York
Massachusetts: oysters from an int…
Massachusetts: oysters from an in…
Michigan
Michigan
Vermont
Vermont
OByrne Gallery
O'Byrne Gallery
pink glass of Ohio
pink glass of Ohio