Thomas Peter, son of the first mayor of Georgetown, and his wife Martha Custis, granddaughter of Martha Washington, purchased an 8 1/2-acre city lot in 1805 with an $8,000 legacy from George Washington. A grand residence was designed by Dr. William Thornton, a self-taught architect, on the land to overlook the Potomac River. Thornton's other Washington buildings include the first United States Capitol and The Octagon. A National Historic Landmark, Tudor Place is known nationally and internationally as a premier example of American neoclassical architecture.
During 179 years of single-family ownership, an impressive collection of European and American decorative arts were amassed. Highlights include over 100 objects originally belonging to George and Martha Washington, an outstanding 19th-20th century American silver collection, and an extraordinary porcelain collection. An extensive collection of furniture, glassware, sculpture, portraits, prints, and textiles tell the story of each generation. The house, furnishings, and grounds are well documented by a remarkable archival collection including letters, diaries, books, bills, and photographs.
First Floor Plan
This room was used as a bedroom/sitting room by Martha Custis Peter up until the late-19th century. Martha Custis Peter and Mrs. William Thornton, the wife of Tudor Place's architect, watched the burning of the U.S. Capitol by the British from this window in 1814. It was turned into a Dining Room in the early 20th century.
The Parlour, less formal than the Drawing Room, was used as both a parlour and a dining room through the late-19th century. During the Civil War, Britannia Peter Kennon took in Union boarders and it was in this room that they took their meals. In the 20th century the Parlour was used as a Living room. Today, this room showcases many Peter family treasures once owned by George and Martha Washington, including a tea table, Revolutionary War camp stool, and important pieces of porcelain purchased by Washington when he was President in New York.
Visitors to Tudor Place entered through the vestibule and walked straight into the Saloon. The circular portico that extends into the space of the room is a prominent architectural feature of the house. The visitor is delighted by a floor to ceiling wall of glass with panes that appear to be curved. The architect is practicing an optical illusion, however, for it is the woodwork that is curved and not the glass. Access to the South lawn is provided by the center windows of the Saloon. The name Saloon is taken from the British adaptation of the French term, Salon.
The Drawing Room is the more formal of the two parlours. During the construction of Tudor Place, an African-American craftsman named Sam Collins cast the plasterwork for this room in the Conservatory. It was the scene of many formal entertainments, such as a reception for the Marquis de Lafayette in 1824. Today this room features a portion of the Peter family's extensive porcelain collection, including examples from the Meissen, Derby and Bow factories.