by Mary Donofrio and Lydia Baxter
Georgetown is one of Washington D.C.’s most famous and desirable neighborhoods. Its residential charm, proximity to the rest of the city, and collection of thriving businesses make it an important mainstay of D.C. life and culture.
Originally founded in 1751, colonial Georgetown quickly became an important shipping hub due to its proximity to the Potomac River, and additionally developed a reputation as an industrial center with the construction of flour mills and wharves. This is where Georgetown developed its reputation of being a fashionable and upscale district.
Despite a brief period of economic hardship in the early 20th century, this neighborhood has long been the center of social and political life in our nation’s capital. Home to the world-renowned Georgetown University, this vibrant neighborhood has maintained its historic charm while also integrating elements of contemporary urban life.
The architecture in Georgetown is as varied as the people who have called this neighborhood home over the years. Because of the desirable location, real estate values are incredibly high, with some homes valued well over a million dollars or more. From federal estates, to colonial and Queen Anne-style townhomes, as well as more modern apartments and condominiums, one can follow the development of the area through the growth of residential buildings.
One of the oldest residential buildings in Washington D.C., the Old Stone House, is located in Georgetown. Built in 1765, The Old Stone House is the only pre-Revolutionary Colonial building still on its original foundation. Another notable home in Georgetown is Dunbarton Oaks, an estate that once housed Vice President to Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun. Dunbarton Oaks is now a museum and houses not only most of the original furnishings, but historical artwork as well. Built in 1796, the City Tavern served as an inn and was frequented by Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other Founding Fathers. Today, the City Tavern is a private social club that hosts special events and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Another important landmark in the neighborhood’s history is Mount Zion Methodist Church, which consists of the oldest African-American congregation in Washington DC.
Whether visiting the 75 extremely steep stone steps where Father Karras plunged to his death in The Exorcist or soaking up some live jazz at Blues Alley, there is something in Georgetown for everyone.